Tuesday, 17 December 2013

It's All In The Booklet #2 - Petits Fours

It may seem bizarre for Fanny to dedicate an entire episode of her Cradock Cooks for Christmas series, and so a whole chapter in the booklet, to Petits Fours but what seems even stranger is that she only gives one recipe - for choux paste. I think if she was on TV today she'd have an array of Macarons and cake pops, but as her legacy is preserved in her very favourite aspic, it's choux paste all the way. Fanny reminds us however that she is helping us to dazzle our guests with a treat which is not available outside of France, which is simple to create (if you know how) and above all is so very economical to produce. All we need is some flour, butter, two standard eggs and some ordinary tap water, which by any reasonable person could not be considered extravagant, apparently.


With some help from poor darling Sarah, Fanny demonstrates the technique for melting the butter in the water, and when it reaches boiling point 'shooting' in the flour and beating before adding carefully the eggs. It should be very thick and absolutely smooth, past the globule stage, as Fanny points out 'such nasty little lumps'. Fanny reveals her own special trick to ensure that the finished baked buns don't contain any 'shameful goo' and that is to allow it to cool at room temperature and NEVER in a refrigerator. Fanny is particularly cross on screen about an un-named and shamed women's magazine who gave a perfectly correct recipe, except the stage where goo had to be scraped out. Made properly, there should be no goo. Fanny pushes her finger into her baked buns to prove it.

I am sure Fanny would be most pleased with my piped and baked eclairs, buns and little miniature buns - not a hint of goo anywhere. Baked high in the oven and on a high heat, they are light and crisp when cooled, although I couldn't bear to bake mine as long as Fanny recommends. Fanny reveals hers from the oven proudly, and claims they should be very dark brown, and not prone to the perils of humidity as they are baked solid. Mine are golden. Oh dear, sorry Fanny, I fear I will be in for some of the same treatment as poor Sarah. Once cooled however I push on, fill them with the required mix of confectioners custard and whipped cream, and top with flavoured and coloured glacé icing. Fanny recommends a gentle pink perhaps, chocolate or coffee coloured, but my modern day choux buns are slightly more vibrant than even Fanny herself would make.


The same process is used for eclairs and the larger buns. Fanny, in a moment of faux modesty, reveals that her reputation for producing these wonderful Petits Fours is quite unjustifiable, after all it is so easy.  Her piping technique, which includes cutting the choux paste from the piping bag with a wet knife, does indeed produce wonderfully shaped eclairs. I do need to improve my technique, as from time to time I did forget, pulling up the piping bag and ending up with 'dreadful tails', but as Fanny demonstrates these are easily snipped off and re-shaped without much fuss.


Fanny says you can make these six months ahead of when you want them and they are perfectly fine, if stored correctly in the freezer of course, but they are so very simple and quick it seems unlikely that you'd bother. Fanny stresses throughout the show, and of course in the booklet, how very simple it is, and fun. However she does appear to be a little fuddled on screen, forgetting which buns she's filled and so on, perhaps it's because poor darling Sarah has disappeared? She seems worried about the year ahead, perhaps she knew this might be her last time in the spotlight? Soldiering on, Fanny displays a full table of completed eclairs and buns, even a Croquembouche which she does not explain how to make, at the end. She warns any friends who are watching that she does not appreciate their nerve in asking for a doggy bag to take any home that may be left over from the party, how very dare they. I am guessing the guests were too dazzled by the sight of all those garish buns to eat them on the night.


I've entered these Petits Fours into this months #TreatPetite hosted by @Cakeyboi and @bakingexplorer


14 comments:

  1. Do love choux pastry and what brilliant colours!

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    1. I thought, well, Fanny never held back with the food colouring! Thanks!

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  2. How brilliantly gaudy are these?!! Love the colours and thanks for entering them into Treat Petite :)

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    1. My little homage to Fanny at Christmas! Thanks :-)

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  3. I have that book!!!! Love choux pastry, I always use Fanny's when I make it. This recipe was the first one I tried, must be a gazillion years ago, and I have never looked for another.
    Andrea

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    1. It works a treat doesn't it? Thanks! It's all in the booklet!

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  4. Can you please give me the quantities for this recipe? I know 2 eggs, but how much flour/butter/water? I ADORE Fanny!People say what they say about her and go to Delia for recipes, but every single recipe of hers I have tried (with some modern tweaks ofc) has been much more to my palate than anything Delia. Wished she had never rolled her eyes at that woman's menu and lose popularity.

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    1. Thanks, I will post the quantities/recipe later this week if that's ok, hope you enjoy it!

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  5. Ah so she does choux! These look so cute with the rainbow colours.

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    1. She was a huge choux fan, but never as sophisticated as yours!

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  6. I'm with Fanny on the goo. Truly shameful. The problem with choux is the baking and no-one seems to agree on the proper technique for a domestic oven. I think it's like macarons: find a technique that works for your oven and stick to it.

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    1. So shameful! I love working with choux, and I'm glad to say I think I've finally found a Macaron technique that works for me and my oven... Yipeeee!

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  7. Do you have the ingredients and quantities for the choux and how to make it. Complete novice here :)

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    1. I do, I'll update it in the recipe tab! Let me know how you get on...

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