Day 27: Choux pastry and pasta magic

It’s hard to worry too much about memorising your bittercress from your landcress when there are so many other exciting things going on in the kitchen. This week I was back in Kitchen 2 with the lovely Annette as my teacher. I had a whole section to myself as Lucy, my partner, cut her finger last week and was out of action for a week.

This meant I got my pick of what to make every day. Tuesday’s line up? Eclairs, fresh pasta and spelt brownies.

The line up

First up was the magic choux pastry. Tuesday afternoon saw me make eclairs; those lovely long, light and crisp pastry shells filled with something creamy and topped with something sweet.

Because the shell is just so delicate and crispy it’s made in a completely different way that any other type of pastry we’ve made. Butter and water are brought to the boil on the hob, then flour stirred in and then 3 and a bit eggs are vigorously beaten in one by one. The mixture is piped into long sausage shapes and then baked in the oven. A few minutes before they’re ready to come out you put a small hole in each one – this will be where you pipe the filling in later.

Once cooled, I piped in crème Chantilly (basically freshly whipped cream slightly sweetened with icing sugar) and then dipped them into a dark chocolate icing and sprinkled with chopped pistachios. That green and chocolate thing going on again.

Oh my goodness just so delicious. As light as a feather and completely irresistible.

Rory demonstrated them on Monday afternoon’s class and I completely agree with him on this point:

“It’s very disappointing if you ever eat an eclair and it doesn’t have the cream properly piped down one end. In fact, I’d go as far to say as it’s one of life’s great disappointments” – Rory

The other extreeeemely exciting new thing I did this week was make fresh pasta! I know Italy, I know. You guys do this all the time. But somehow, in my 34 years of life and in all my years of pasta eating I have not once made fresh pasta myself. And the process of making it, rolling it out and then cutting it into noodles was just so much fun.

Possibly the best part about the whole thing though is the pasta dough. It’s so smooth and wonderful to touch. I couldn’t stop stroking my ball of dough before I rolled it out. The recipe I made had a mixture of 00 flour, which gives that irresistibly smooth finish) and semolina. Which along with fresh Ballymaloe egg yolks gives the pasta this insanely bright yellow colour and rich flavour.

After the making, chilling, rolling multiple times and then noodling, you are rewarded with the noodles being ready to eat in about 1 minute. I kid you not. They simply need to be dropped into boiling, salted water, swirled around then tossed in a pan with melted butter and sage leaves. And then secret ingredient – a few spoons of the pasta cooking water. Stirred through this gives a wonderful creamy emulsion. Perfect simplicity. Those Italians are definitely onto something.

(And a pasta machine is now definitely on The List)

Oh and the spelt brownies! I snuck these onto my order of work as I was on biscuit duty today. Brownies and slices all count as biscuits and after Pam demonstrated these last week they have been on my hit list to make. This recipe comes from the Violet Bakery in Hackney who I have often visited for a tea and cake pitstop during weekends in London.

Chocolate spelt brownies from Violet Bakery

Hard and cracking on top but gooey and almost raw underneath. These were so so good. (And clearly just what was needed with everything else on the menu!)


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