The éclair is one of our most traditional pastries that is produced in our industry. Today, pastry chefs are pushing the boundaries of what an éclair can be! As an educator, it is my responsibility to be up to date on these trends and have the ability to facilitate these fashionable delicacies.
Pâte a choux, literally meaning “cabbage pastry” is one of the fundamental pastries in out profession. Traditionally, the pastry is made with water, butter, salt, flour and eggs. A roux is made with the water, butter, slat and flour, it is then cooled and eggs are incorporated. The mixture is then piped with a plain tip various shapes, including a finger sized product that will become the eclair. The pastry chef would then immediately bake the éclairs and the resulting steam that is produced in the baking process aerates and lightens the product. With this traditional method using water as the base liquid, more of a cracked and uneven surface is the result (somewhat resulting in a ‘cabbage’ like appearance.)
More recently, french pastry chefs led by Christophe Adams, have been experimenting and pushing the éclair to new heights. There are many variations to the formula, but with the substitution of milk for water as the primary liquid, a much smoother surface is achieved. Another important modification is the use of a french star tip in the piping process. This allows a scoring of the surface of the product and a more even release of the steam in the baking process. There are many more techniques and tricks that can be explored when perfecting this even, uniform type of eclair, but I choose to highlight these two, as they are fundamental to the final result.
And finally, now that the base of the éclair is suitable for precise decoration, they can be filled and glazed with an infinite amount of possibilities. Check out the link below to explore some of Christophe Adams creations! I pose a question: Will the designer éclair become North America’s next cupcake?