Do you think these eclairs look great?
They aren’t (anymore)! Great looking eclairs look like (click on>) these incredible examples. I’ve tried to make mine more “perfect” looking, like the ones in those photographs. I couldn’t get my pate’ a choux (the shells of eclairs and cream puffs) like those, no matter how hard I tried. I really couldn’t understand what those famous chefs were doing. It had be me, I just can’t pipe as well as them.
THEN I one day I found the secret to making perfect looking eclair shells (pate choux) by accident.
I was reading through some of Chef Francisco Migoya recipes and all of the sudden I found the secret, I was so thrilled! Buried in the instructions of Chef Migoya “Perfect Choux” recipe laid the secret I really wanted to know. Check out step #7;
“Pipe in a straight line and coat on all sides with an even mist of vegetable oil spray (this is part of the success of an even éclair; it prevents the surface from ripping). Freeze. Once hardened, cut into 15cm long sticks. Freeze sticks to re-harden if necessary because they need to come off cleanly from the parchment paper and if they are slightly soft they may deform from handling. “
All along I had thought all these chefs just must be better at piping then me (yes, when things don’t go well I blame myself). My shells burst out sideways and my ends went up like tails, no matter how gently I lifted up my piping bag. Perhaps everyone already knew about this and I’m the last professional pastry chef to learn? I don’t know, but this was big news to me! The next time I baked off pate choux I sprayed it with pan spray and it worked great, my sides didn’t rip at all. Every shell was exactly like the other! A small step with big returns.
Learn more from Chef Migoya at Being Fergus Henderson and at his current website The Quenelle. A few weeks after learning this technique I came across this article from Chef Johnny Iuzzini, if you look at his recipes he uses the same technique. So it appears that the “secret” is out, I just wanted to make sure you didn’t miss it.
More Articles and photos of eclairs:
Apple compote éclair, by Olivier Fernández (*check out how he forms these; it’s method I’ve never heard of before)