|By Andrew Knowles|
Years later, once I’d left home, I tried making choux pastry. It was an inedible disaster. I never got as far as experimenting with any classy fillings or toppings. Then the Great British Bake-Off started on TV and I decided to try again. I used the basic choux recipe from this Bake-Off challenge (I wasn’t mad enough to think I could construct religieuse, I just wanted to get the pastry part right!). The result was at least edible, but as DD said, they looked like “fried pinwheels”. I adjusted the oven temperature, in case my oven wasn’t hot enough. Batch two was better, but still heavy and close textured so I gave up. Then OH reminded me that my home-made bread improved enormously after I watched Daniel Stevens baking on TV. Before that, I'd been following recipes to the letter but the texture of perfect dough was something I needed to see before I could get it exactly right.
That sent me straight to YouTube, where I found this 101 on choux pastry...
and yes, there's a world of difference between following written instructions and actually watching someone work. I didn't use the quantities in the film, it was the consistency of the paste while cooking and when ready for piping that I needed to see. My next batch of choux pastry turned out perfectly, and was filled with crème pâtissière and topped with shiny chocolate ganache (though I still didn’t bother turning them into religieuse). If only I’d been able to see Gran working with the right consistency of choux dough years ago, I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort.
What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned online? There’s a signed book from my backlist for a comment drawn at random on Monday, 18th November.