Between the perfectly-levelled cake layers shown on Pinterest and highly technical recipes from baking-101 style cookbooks, it's easy for aspiring bakers to feel deflated in the kitchen. Enter Charmian Christie, who specializes in approachable cooking from scratch. Christie has contributed to almost every well-known Canadian food media outlet, including The Globe and Mail, More, Edible Toronto, Canadian Gardening, and Recipes.ca. Her new cookbook, The Messy Baker, is a collection of 75 versatile and delicious recipes using natural ingredients, approachable techniques and some full-fat cream here and there. Consider The Messy Baker the Jennifer Lawrence of cookbooks.
Here's Christie's recipe on profiteroles, which is made with choux pastry done on the stove top. The key to the pastry is melted butter, heat, and a good stiff beating.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine butter, granulated sugar, salt, milk, and water. Heat until the mixture just begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low and dump all the flour into the pan. With a wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula, stir until the dough forms a ball.
Place the dough in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse once or twice. With the food processor running, add the 4 eggs, one at a time, until combined. Alternatively, you can beat in the eggs one at a time by hand or with an electric mixer. The dough should be smooth and shiny and hold its shape.
Drop the dough onto the baking sheets to create profiteroles. You can do this using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop, or 2 dessert spoons. The aim is to make balls of dough about 11⁄2-inch wide and tall so that filling them is easier. Regardless of the size you create, be consistent so they bake at the same rate. When all the profiteroles have been formed, tap down their points with a clean finger dipped in cold water.
In a small bowl, whisk the yolk with the cream or milk. Brush each profiterole with the egg wash. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the profiteroles are golden brown. Allow to cool completely before filling.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Fill the profiteroles immediately.
To fill the profiteroles with a tip:
Put the cream into a pastry bag fitted with a small tip. Using a skewer, poke a hole in the side of the profiterole, insert the piping bag tip into the hole, and fill until you feel resistance. Repeat with the remaining profiteroles and cream. To fill the profiteroles without a tip: Using a serrated knife, cut the profiteroles in half horizontally, spoon a dollop of cream onto the bottoms, and then place the tops on gently.
Chill the filled profiteroles until ready to serve. Profiteroles can be served as is or drizzled with Chocolate Anything Sauce (from the cookbook). Salted Caramel Sauce (from the cookbook) or Nutmeg Brandy Sauce (from the cookbook) makes a nice change of pace.
Note: Any uneaten, sauce-free profiteroles can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Tip: You can use regular or confectioners’ sugar for the chantilly cream, but confectioners’ sugar adds a bit of structure and makes the cream a bit easier to handle.
- 3 dozen