also known as miniature nuns is a technical challenge from the Great British Bake Off Everyday recipe book. I baked these last weekend for a family tea.
This was the first time I’ve ever made choux pastry and this went rather well. Quite often, my baking lacks something in presentation, but usually makes up for it in taste, however this time I was sure it was going to be the opposite as I had issues with the crème patisserie in that it was so lumpy I had to sieve it!!
I also think the recipe advises you to use too much chocolate, after decorating the Religieuses there was half a cereal sized bowl left over and they had been generously covered.
What you need:
You will need 1 large baking sheet, or 2 medium ones, lined with baking paper
For the choux pastry
60g unsalted butter, cubed
75g plain flour
2 medium eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
For the crème patissiere filling
500ml full-fat milk
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
6 medium egg yolks, at room temperature
75g caster sugar
25g plain flour
For the chocolate ganache
150ml double cream
200g dark chocolate (about 36% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
For the collar
150ml double cream, well chilled
What you do:
Prep – heat your oven to 220°c. Draw eight 5cm circles and eight 2.5cm circles on the paper lining the baking sheet
Make the choux pastry – put the butter and water into a heavy pan and heat over a medium heat until the butter has completely melted, then bring the mixture to the boil, taking care not to burn the butter. Remove from the heat and tip in the flour. *note, at this point it looks like slop and you’ll think it’s all gone wrong…just keep stirring and then it just happens!
Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a soft ball. Set the pan back on low heat and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly, to dry out the dough.
From this >> to this!
Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition, to make a smooth, shiny paste.
Spoon the choux dough into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm plain tube. Pipe discs inside the drawn circles on the baking sheet. Dip your finger in water and gently smooth the top of each disc. Place in the heated oven and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 190°c and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until a good golden brown.
For once, my piping went rather well 🙂
Remove the buns from the oven and pierce each one to allow the steam to escape. Return the choux buns to the oven and bake for 4-5 minutes so they dry out. Transfer the buns to a wire rack and leave to cool.
Make the crème patissiere. Pour the milk into a heavy-based medium pan. Using the tip of a small knife, scrape out the vanilla seeds from the split pod and add to the milk. Slowly bring to the boil, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside. Put the egg yolks and sugar into a heatproof mixing bowl and whisk together until pale, then add the cornflour and flour and whisk in. Continue to whisk as you pour on the hot milk in a thin steady stream. Pour the mixture back into the pan. Set over medium heat and bring to the boil, whisking constantly.
*I don’t know what happened here but my custard was horribly lumpy and I had to sieve it to make it usable
What you don’t want!
Cook for 1 minute until smooth and thick. Pour into a bowl and cover the surface of the crème patissiere with clingfilm (this prevents a skin from forming). Leave to cool, then chill
Make the chocolate ganache by bringing the cream to the boil in a small pan, then remove from the heat. Add the pieces of chocolate and stir until melted and the mixture is smooth and shiny. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool, then cover and chill until the ganache has a thick coating consistency.
Assemble the religieuses by spooning the crème patissiere into a piping bag fitted with a long thin tube ( or use a jam or icing syringe) and fill the choux buns through the ‘steam hole’ made earlier. It’s a good idea if the custard is quite thick otherwise it’ll just run out the holes when you fix together later…mine went everywhere!
This is a really messy bit >> dip the tops of the filled buns into the chocolate ganache to coat them halfway up the sides. Set a small bun on top of each large bun.
Whip the cream until it will stand in peaks. Spoon into the clean piping bag fitted with a star tube. Pipe a line of cream around the join where the two buns meet to form a white collar. Serve as soon as possible after assembling.
Despite my previous worries, these actually were rather delicious and the family loved them. In all honesty, they’re a faff and I’m not entirely convinced that spending 2-3 hours doing this for 9 buns was really worthwhile when you can pick up a pack of 12 profiteroles in Sainsbury’s* for a quid!
*other supermarkets are available 😉
Until next time…Happy Baking!