19 Dec 2012

Cream Puffs with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Sorry for the long halt, my life have been miserably quiet and uninteresting for a while.
Had a lot of shifts at work so the majority of my week was filled with a lot of standing infront of the cashier, taking orders, making coffees and washing dishes. Typical days ..
But I'm not complaining. Thank God for my funny workmates! They make my days much more interesting.
And I find it very sweet and rewarding when (even though it's very rare) 2 out of 10 customers really appreciate small gestures like a simple smile that you gave to them during a busy day.

Camberwell Market on a rather bipolar-weather day.
I haven't been cooking or making anything (apart from fried eggs and cereals), because I'm broke as hell. Thanks to the recent trip to Camberwell market with my friends where I spent a good portion of my salary on thrifting.
Yes, i am very fond of vintage stuff, especially clothings. I wonder where those guys at Camberwell market got their stuff... Some were very historically old in my opinion.
There's one guy selling a set of cake icing equipment with very adorable vintage pinup girl on the box that looked like it came from those old TV commercials in early 70s and when I opened the box, the pipping bags and nozzles were all black-brown-stained and rusted. I don't think it's safe to be used anymore.
By the way, hot jam donuts at Camberwell market is the bomb. Cheap sweet warm treats to nibble on while digging treasures out of other people's trash (you know, one man's trash could be another man's treasure).
Just make sure you wipe off the excess sugar and jam off of your fingers before touching anything, because it'll get sticky.
I would come back just for the donuts. Hmm


After days of being unproductive in the kitchen, I decided to rang my friend Aurelia and asked her whether or not she wants to bake something on the weekend, and she said yes (hurraahh!).
We made these yummy creampuffs on a rather gloomy Friday night.
It was Friday night, for heavens sake. We didn't go anywhere because we were equally broke at that time but we still need something fun to do, right?
I stupidly made most of the puffs too small and only got a few in the right size for a creampuff, but they're both really nice. Aurelia and I even prefer the tiny ones because they're slightly more crunchy.
And the custard..
Let's just say, cold custard is just addictive. Ours needed some rum though (but the rum is quiet expensive so we'll save that for later!)

Cream Puffs with Vanilla Pastry Cream
Adapted from theKitchn Azelia's Kitchen  & Graces Sweet Life

Ingredients (vanilla pastry cream):
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk 
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Heat the milk in a pan over medium heat until it comes to a gentle simmer
2. While waiting for the milk to warm up, mix sugar and egg yolks in a bowl until well combined and then add the flour, salt and vanilla extract . Mix well
3. When the milk is ready, take it off the heat and let it cool a little bit until it is warm to the touch.
4. Pour a bit (not all!) of the milk into the bowl of yolk mixture and stir until combine (we are tempering the yolks so it wont scramble). After that, pour all the yolk mixture which have been tempered back into the pan of warm milk on a medium heat. 
5. Keep stirring until the mixture thickened and resembles a pudding mixture.
6. When big bubbles starts to form and pop on top of the mixture, it's nearly done. Keep stirring for about 2-3 more minutes. 
7. Turn off the heat, transfer it into a clean bowl and let it cool before chilling it in the fridge (covered with plastic wrap. Make sure to press the plastic wrap onto the custard to avoid the top forming a film)
8. Chill in the fridge until needed (while we make the puffs!)

Ingredients (puffs):

  • 1 cup water
  • 150 g original butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 large eggs
1. Preheat the oven to 220 Celcius and prepare a baking tray lined with baking sheet
2. Boil the water in a saucepan together with butter, salt and sugar on medium heat. Make sure that the butter is completely melted during the process.
3. When the water is boiled and the butter is completely melted, turn the heat down to medium-low then add all the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon.
4. Continue stirring the mixture until it turns from a lumpy mixture into a smooth sticky dough that will stick together and pulls aways from the sides of the pan. 
5. Keep stirring vigorously for 5 minutes until all the visible lumps are gone
6. When the dough is done, transfer it into a clean bowl and let it cool for 3 minutes. You can help the cooling process by keep stirring it to release the hot steam from the dough
7. When it has cooled down, add an egg and stir until well combined (it will start looking like it's curdling, but keep stirring! it'll turn smooth soon!). Add the rest of the egg one by one, make sure that each egg is well mixed with the dough before adding the next egg.
8. Put the dough into a pipping bag with a medium sized nozzle (ask a friend to hold the pipping bag for you, or put the pipping bag on a tall glass so you will have both hands to pour the dough in), leaving some space on the top to make the squeezing easier
9. Pipe out mounds of dough (by squeezing the pipping bag, and then flicking it upwards when it reaches the desired size of puffs) onto the lined baking tray, giving them an inch space from each other. Wet your finger with water and then tuck in the pointy tips on the puffs to prevent it from burning. With the excess dough, you can make tiny little puffs too. 
10. Bake for 25 minutes until the puffs are golden brown and puffed up
11. Turn off the oven and let the puffs rest in the oven for 5 minutes to let more moisture evaporate 
12. Remove from oven, let it cool for a while and when they are cool, slice it halfway in the middle and fill it with the chilled custard.
13. Dust it with powdered sugar for extra dazzle

Straight from the oven!
Golden Brown puffs with chilled custard!
I personally love the tiny mini puffs since they're such a cute and crunchy one bite delights! 
We ended up dunking the mini puffs in the left over custard, which was actually the highlight of the day. 

I watched tons of videos, read blog posts, recipes and the comments people post on choux pastry in advance and found out that a lot of people have different techniques in their choux pastry procedure. Some uses milk, some uses half milk - half water, some uses sugar for the dough, some don't. 

From all of those articles, these are the things that I took notice and believe that they're important (hence the multiple appearance in different recipes):
1. You MUST stir the dough vigorously. Some chefs said that if you don't sweat during this process, you're not doing it right. Take your time, and work those muscles.
2. Resting the puffs inside the oven is a must. It will evaporate the excess moisture out of the puffs
3. Use wooden spoon to stir the mixture (I don't know why, but all the recipes said so)
4. Mix in the egg one by one. Let the egg mixed well before adding another one!

I'm quiet satisfied with the ones that I made and I will continue making it the way I made it. 
Another Friday night alternative activity done well!

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