I decided to bake my way through the Great British Baking Show (GBBS for short) and write about it. Don’t know much about GBBS? No worries. Check out my first blog in this series to learn more about the show and about why I decided to do this, for better or for worse (so far, mostly worse).
So, it’s been awhile since my last bake. I had hip surgery last month and I didn’t think my already-lackluster baking skills would be improved with me on crutches.
And all in all, I’m glad I waited because these eclairs I made for the Season 1 Episode 7 showstopper challenge were a smashing success – as in they looked like I’d smashed them repeatedly with my fists and then dropped them on the floor.
They were a mess – a delicious mess.
In this episode of GBBS, contestants were challenged to make 24 eclairs of two different varieties. I didn’t do that because I figured eclairs were best served fresh and I didn’t really have 24 people to share eclairs with at 9 p.m. on a weekend when I decided to make these. (Note to self: I need to make more friends). Also, laziness. Laziness is why I didn’t make 24 eclairs of two different varieties.
Though, in my defense, I think all laziness in the months post-surgery is called recovery. So I recovered my butt off by making only 12 eclairs of one variety.
Wanting to keep things classically GBBS, I used Mary Berry‘s cookbook. For the uninitiated, Mary Berry is everyone’s favorite judge on GBBS. She’s the queen of baking and the British fairy godmother we all dream of. (We all do that right?)
P.S. Do not talk to me about the new shows with the new judges. I cant even handle that right now…just no.
Besides, after being away from baking for so long, there’s no one I’d rather bake with then Mary Berry herself. So I used Mary’s cookbook Baking with Mary Berry: Cakes, Cookies, Pies and Pastries from the British Queen of Baking.”Get it on Amazon: here. (Then while you’re there, get my books. That was a truly tacky segue into that but I don’t care. I’m just excited you can buy my books on Amazon.)
I used MB’s coffee eclair recipe which, bless her, was simple and only had a few ingredients.
The first thing I had to do was make the choux pastry which, bless Mary Berry again, is explained step-by-step with pictures at the beginning of the book.
It’s pretty simple. You just put butter in a heavy saucepan with some water until the butter melts and it comes to a boil. Then you take it off the heat and add some shifted flour and a pinch of salt.
From there you stir it quote “vigorously” until it all comes together in a soft ball. Then, once it’s cooled a bit, you gradually add in two lightly beaten eggs, one at a time. You beat that all together until it forms a shiny paste. Which I was totally able to do ya’ll.
Then I had to put the choux into a piping bag with a half inch nozzle and pipe it on to a prepared baking sheet that had been buttered and sprinkled with water. (The water helps to create steam which gives the pastry a crispy crust.)
And here’s where I made my first mistake, folks.
I didn’t read the instructions fully. I just assumed since I was making 10-12 eclairs with a top and bottom half that I would pipe 20-24 things. You know, because of math. Had I read the instructions correctly (or just completely) I would have realized I was only piping 10-12 eclairs that I would then cut in half to get a top and a bottom.
At this point, I could have scrapped the pastry dough off the baking sheet, put it back in the piping bag and started again. But, I didn’t do that. (Because laziness, er, I mean recovery.)
I baked the pastry for 10 minutes at 425 degrees and then lowered the temperature to 375 degrees and baked them for another 20 minutes.
Meanwhile I made the filling which was just whipping cream, whipped.
Maybe it’s just me, but straight-up whipping cream didn’t do it for me. So I broke from Mary’s recipe and added 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and a 1/2 tsp. of vanilla to the whipped cream. I thought it tasted better.
Then I made the coffee icing which was just instant coffee, butter and water, mixed with some powdered sugar. To make it, you put a bowl over a pan of simmering water on the stove. You put the instant coffee, butter and water in the bowl and heat it until the butter melts. Then you take it off the heat and mix in the powered sugar.
Then I had to assemble the eclairs with the coffee icing on top and the whipped cream in the center. And this is where it turned into a real mess – my frosting was pretty thin so it may have been smart to let it chill and thicken a bit before I attempted to frost my eclairs but I didn’t because – impatience.
From there, my lack of patience and watery icing led to a sort of coffee flood. The icing was too thin to stay on top of my eclairs so it basically just got everywhere.
This would have been a problem, had I not just decided to just scoop it all up and eat it with a spoon.
I am nothing if not a problem solver.
It was freaking delicious. And the eclairs were delicious too, despite their looks. They were so delicious, in fact, that I was planning on sitting down with a cup of tea and eating one like a proper English lady. But I’m not a proper English lady so I ate an eclair while I was waiting for my tea water to boil. Then I ate another one while the tea was brewing.
Shhh…don’t tell anyone.
All in all, I might actually make these again, and if I actually follow the directions, who knows, they may get even better.
P.S. Any mistakes in this bake are fully my own and do not reflect any wrongdoing or miscommunication on the part of Mary Berry – who we all know is the queen of baking (and our hearts.)
Next time, I’ll move on to Season 1 Episode 8 “Advanced Dough” where I’ll have to make an enriched sweet fruit loaf. Yeah, I’m not totally sure what that is either. But I’ll be okay right?