Friday, April 5, 2013

E = Eton Mess and Eclairs

e
A friend mentioned on Facebook that she was making dinner and etonmesssaid the dessert was Eton Mess. I had vaguely heard of this before but didn’t remember what it was. Basically it is fresh strawberries, crumbled meringues and whipped cream in a dish which, basically, looks a bit of a mess. It was invented at Eton College which is one of the best know public schools in Britain (public schools are actually private schools and parents are charged school fees) at which no fewer than 18 British Prime Ministers have been educated. The school was founded in 1440 by Henry VI. Not sure why I, born and bred in the UK, have to learn about Eton Mess from a friend in South Africa. Here is a recipe and article about it from The Joy of Baking. I love meringues and cream (especially English cream) so it wouldn’t take much for me to love this.

Matt loves éclairs. Many years ago, before I knew him, he used to buy a couple of boxes of éclairs to take home, by the time he got home, there was only one box left.


Eclairs
Homemade éclairs are a labour of love, but the reward will be a decadent mouthful of crisp pastry oozing creamy vanilla custardEclairs
Ingredients
  • 140g plain flour
  • pinch of sugar
  • 125ml milk
  • 100g butter
  • 4 eggs
FOR THE CUSTARD FILLING
  • 300ml milk
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tsp each plain flour and corn flour (corn starch)
  • 300ml double cream (or the heaviest cream you can buy)
  1. Start by making the custard filling. Heat the milk until almost boiling in a saucepan. Meanwhile, mix together the sugar, egg yolks and vanilla in a bowl, then stir in the flours, a couple of tsp at a time, to a smooth paste. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, pour everything back into the saucepan and cook over a high heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 mins until thick - it will go alarmingly lumpy but don't worry, just keep stirring it vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth. Lay a sheet of cling film directly on the custard surface, then cool and chill until you're ready to fill the buns.
  2. To make the choux buns, heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Sift the flour with the sugar and a pinch of salt into a small bowl. Put the milk and butter into a medium saucepan with 125ml water and gently heat so the butter melts but the liquid doesn't bubble. Once the butter has completely melted, increase the heat until the liquid comes to a fast rolling boil. Immediately turn off the heat, tip in the sifted flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until you a have a smooth dough that comes away from the sides of the pan (see picture 1). Spread over a large dinner plate to cool to hand temperature.
  3. Once the dough mix has cooled, scrape it back into your pan. Using your wooden spoon, beat in each egg, one by one, until you have a smooth, shiny mixture.
  4. Cut 2 large sheets of baking parchment. On each one draw 2 sets of 'track' lines with a 10cm gap - these will be your guidelines so your éclairs will all be roughly the same size (see picture 2). Use the paper to line 2 large baking sheets - penside down. Spoon your choux mixture into a piping bag with a 1cm wide nozzle, or into a disposable piping bag with a similar-size hole snipped off for piping. Pipe 2 rows of well-spaced, squashed 'S' shapes on each sheet between the guidelines (see picture 3). Bake, one tray at a time, on a highish shelf for 25 mins, reducing temperature to 200C/180C fan/ gas 6 as soon as they go in the oven.
  5. After 25 mins, poke a hole in the end of each bun, or using a small serrated knife, split down the middle and return to the oven, upside-down, to dry out for 5 mins until crisp and golden. Set aside to cool.
  6. While the buns are cooling, finish your filling. Whisk the cream until thick, then use your electric whisk to beat the cooled, set custard until just smooth again. Fold in the cream. Spoon your filling into a piping bag - use a small nozzle if you're filling the buns through the holes you've pierced, or a large nozzle if you've split the buns in half. Carefully pipe the custard into each cooled bun - they should feel heavy once full. Arrange the buns on a wire rack and spread each with a little of your chosen icing (see below). If you can't decide, it's really easy to split your batch of choux buns, halve icing quantities, and make a selection to keep everyone happy.
Have a great day
Jo_thumb[2]

47 comments:

  1. You had me at Eton Mess, but thanks for the eclair recipe - I made them once, a few years ago, but not since. I recall it was a lot of work!!!

    Hopped over from A-Z Challenge (http://www.ittakesawoman.co.uk

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    1. They are a lot of work, but homemade eclairs are delicious. In the UK they are often made with fresh cream.

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  2. Elton Mess is a favourite with my husband, or was until he was warned about his blood sugar levels! It's too sweet for me and though I love chocolate I don't like the texture of choux pastry. Fussy aren't I!

    Rosalind Adam is Writing in the Rain

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    1. My husband is the eclair person in our household. He used to eat a box full on his way home from work on a Friday.

      I have diabetes, but I wouldn't hesitate to eat Eton Mess now and again. Here again, you do need English cream to make it properly.

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  3. Hi Jo .. I think I'd rather have Eton mess - especially with meringues from the Aga! - and fresh soft fruits straight from the garden .. with Cornish Cream ... definitely one of my mother's easiest and best ways of giving us pud!!

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. I had never heard of it before talking to my friend. Certainly not when we lived in England. When strawberries are around I will have to try it although it won't be the same without Cornish Cream.

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  4. I love Eton Mess. I'd never heard of it until we lived in the UK, but I make it myself now. Anything with meringues is good in my book : )

    Visiting from the A-Z today...have a nice weekend and good luck with the challenge!

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    1. Thanks Joyce, I will have to try making it myself.

      Thanks for dropping in.

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  5. OMG... now I want an eclair! But I have never heard of Eton Mess before this post :) I had heard of Eton, of course. :D

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    1. Me neither.

      Thanks for dropping by

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  6. Why do I keep reading about things I am not allowed. Nevertheless I'm glad it's not just PMs who came out of Eton. Now I wait to see if you can come up with an Harrowvian dish.

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    1. No such luck Bob, I've never heard of one anyway. I read PMs differently.

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  7. This sounds heavenly! I'm a public hazard in the kitchen, but I might just give these a try :) Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Sorry you are not too kitchen savvy. However, it shouldn't be too, too difficult.

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  8. Never a big eclair eater, and now I can't have them.

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  9. I've made eclairs from scratch, but have yet to try the Eton Mess. Looks delicious.

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    1. It would be best with thick English cream though.

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  10. Replies
    1. I'm glad you like the sound of it.

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  11. Ive never taken to eclairs but the mess is a personal favorite from my England days.

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    1. Funny you know it and I'd never heard of it.

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  12. Eton Mess - sounds delicious, I'm trying that! Pavlova gone wrong perhaps? A month of Blog...

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    1. Could well be, dunno how long they've been eating it at Eton.

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  13. I've made éclairs before. It was fun, although I am a bit of train wreck so you can imagine the mess. This is a yummy post!

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    1. I have never made eclairs, only profiteroles, much the same process however.

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  14. Eton Mess is delicious, a great dessert now that Spring is coming (I think).

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    1. Once I can get fresh local strawberries I am certainly planning to try it.

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  15. Oh, my! You had me at the word, "eclair". Yum! I think I need to go find some! Oops, not today! I'm in my night gown and housecoat. Darn! Well, then, for sure the next time I'm out. Maybe if I can remember it. Best regards to you, my friend. Ruby

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  16. Thanks Ruby, why find some, why not make some?

    Thanks for dropping by.

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  17. Jo - I sooo did not need to read this! You have ruined me for the weekend. ;) I'll have to go out to the store tomorrow.

    They both sound wonderful.

    Barbara
    E is for Evidence Found in A to Z
    The Daille-y News

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    1. I didn't do my weekend much good either, however, we have got cannoli for dessert tomorrow - guests for dinner.

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    2. Lucky guests!

      Barbara
      E is for Evidence Found in A to Z
      The Daille-y News

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  18. Now I'm hungry. I"m going to make Eton Mess sometime soon. Sounds yummy and with can be made low fat. Which would be great. Although, it's the eclairs that have me drooling.

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    1. I don't believe in low fat. Make the real thing, full fat etc. and just have less of it. It will taste better.

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  19. Your recipe sounds like a blessing for the mouth but the ruin for the diet. Okay, let's throw the diet out of the window, hahaha.

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    1. Dragons don't need to diet surely?

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  20. Educational and delicious. I think I gained a few poundsjust reading the recipe. Youhave to love a good eclair!

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    1. As Bob commented, Eton didn't just produce Prime Ministers.

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  21. I do believe I would enjoy some Eton Mess!

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    1. I know I would, meringues and cream, can't beat it, throw in a few strawberries and wow.

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  22. Oh, yum! I'm made many cream puffs, but have never tried Eclairs - now I may have to!

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    1. Sure, give it a go. If you have made cream puffs, its gotta be easy.

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  23. hi Jo, sorry for the comment prior to this, i was trying my hyperlink hoping that it will appear like yours, obviously, i typed the wrong things :) please delete my attempt at commenting with my signature hyperlink ... still, I am drooling with your yummy posts!

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    1. Hyperlinks are really quite easy, but you have to be careful to type everything, not just letters. I have mine saved in an easy way so I just copy and paste it.

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  24. Never heard about Eton Mess .. but I like what I saw on the link .. and the eclairs they can you husband keep all to himself. *smile
    I think I don't like them because they have always been such a headache to make for me. *smile They are all his.

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    1. He wouldn't know how to make them Viveka, but he certainly knows how to eat them. I think I will be trying Eton Mess this summer.

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