It’s Friday – which I always think of my day as I was born and a Friday, and my sister, and my two children – therefore we must be loving and giving! it’s Friday on afternoon tea week, and on the cake stand we have a danish open sandwich called a shooting star sandwich, some treacle scones, carrot and pineapple cake and Thor cake, so maybe we need some éclairs.
Éclairs are made from choux pastry which is different from other pastries in that it is made by cooking the ingredients before baking them in the oven – the first time you make it (well, the first time I made it) the process seemed so strange i was sure I was doing it wrong. However all turned out well and we had delicious pastries, filled with cream and covered in chocolate. I know there can be different fillings and toppings, but to me only cream and chocolate will do.
Éclairs come from France as you might imagine, a couple of hundred years ago. the name means lightning – but does it really get that from the fact that it is eaten as quick as lightning or in a flash? I’m not sure, it doesn’t somehow seem very likely… but maybe it’s true! Although Carême the famous chef is supposed to have been the person who invented them, the fact that choux pastry was at least three hundred years old by the time he was cheffing makes me believe that long slim tubes of pastry filled with yummy stuff and coated with more yummy stuff had been going on for a long time by little bakers all over the place – but particularly in Italy.
My mum was a great pastry cook – my pastry isn’t bad but hers was superb! Pies, tarts, flans… the best pastry makers are supposed to have cool hands, but mum’s hands were always very warm and yet her pastry of whatever sort, sweet, plain or savoury was always melt-in-the-mouth delicious! She used to make choux pastry, more often as little buns, rather than éclairs, and the cream they were filled with was probably out of a tin, and the chocolate on the top was either ‘cooking chocolate’ or good old Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, but the delicious golden, crisp pastry shell was just delicious (we actually didn’t know anything other than tinned cream or ordinary milk chocolate, so we thought they were jolly good too!)
So I think I will change the offering on the cake stand, I think I will have bite-sized choux buns filled with whipped cream and topped with melted chocolate (but I will use plain!)
Links to my afternoon tea stories:
… and a link to my e-books and my recently published paperback, Radwinter: