Who can forget Mary Berry’s choux pastry technical challenge in series 4 when the bakers were asked to make eight perfect ‘religieuse’? (Miniature nuns made of choux pastry and vanilla crème patissiere and decorated with a frilly white collar of whipped cream and dark chocolate ganache, in case you didn’t know!) If you want to impress but don’t feel up to the challenge of eight ‘religieuse’, why not just call them choux buns and have a go? Actually, even the name ‘choux buns’ sounds scary but they’re really very easy to make. I’m making some for my mother’s annual summer party next week because, as choux is the lightest, crispiest, airiest pastry, it always seems just right for a summer dessert..
Even a novice baker like me can make impressive choux buns and there are so many irresistible recipes out there just waiting for you to give them a try. To make a basic choux pastry all you need to do is to place 50g of unsalted butter, 120ml of water and half a teaspoon of sugar and salt in a pan over a low heat (I prefer to use a non stick pan).. When the butter melts, bring the mixture to the boil and remove from the heat and immediately add 75g of plain flour (all in one go) and stir until you have a firm, smooth paste. Return the pan to the heat so that your paste dries out and forms a ball. Transfer your paste to a bowl and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before beating in three eggs bit by bit, making sure that you incorporate as much air as possible. And that’s it! You don’t even need to pipe your buns – I find that a dessertspoon-sized dollop makes a perfect choux bun. Bake on a baking tray for 20-25 minutes - I use Judge’s non-stick baking trays as they come with a 5 year non-stick guarantee, they’re easy to clean and, most importantly, they give me excellent results time after time.
Top Tip: Sprinkle your baking tray with water to add steam during the baking process – this will help your pastry to rise
Now for the fun part – the filling and decoration. I’m going for a summer fruit and cream theme for next week’s party but there are endless delicious options to choose from. So, go on, why not have a go yourself? You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to impress!