Have you ever seen The Great British Baking Show? It’s a baking competition for amateurs, and it’s fabulous! On American cooking competitions people are all “That girl is so annoying, she’s got to go!” But these competitors are sweet, helpful, and genuinely sad when friends get eliminated. They’re all polite and just…British! I LOVE IT!
When I was “sick” a few weeks ago
I watched a few episodes, a few seasons, I watched all 3 seasons on Netflix. I want to go back and re-watch them so I can make a list of all the things I want to bake. One recipe that struck me, maybe because I’ve actually eaten it, was the eclair. If you’ve never had one, it’s like a cream filled long john donut with chocolate frosting, except a donut is the fast food version, $1 for one, and the eclair is the delicate French Bakery version, $5 or more for one.
One weekend, I felt ambitious and gave it a go.
First I made a pate a choux (pat-uh-shoe) by melting a bunch of crap together until it boils, then I stirred in the flour. I stir and stir and stir until it comes away from the edge of the pan. The instructions told me to put it into a mixer, and mix in the eggs one at a time with a kneading hook. That crap wasn’t working, so I got my wooden spoon, and stirred and stirred and stirred, until the egg was completely incorporated and my shoulder started to burn. I still had 3 more eggs, and yes, it does say to do them one at a time.
I rolled up my sleeves and stirred and stirred and stirred and stirred and stirred and stirred and stirred and stirred and stirred (you get the picture) until my whole arm felt like jelly. Then I put the glossy pate a choux into a pipping bag, oh uh, I don’t have one of those. I put it into a zip lock bag and cut the corner off, then “pipped” my eclairs onto parchment paper, and sent them into the oven.
Next the creme patisserie (said just as it looks). I put cream (or was it milk?) on to heat, and while that got going I put egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and no stirring this time, this time I got to whisk. I whisked and I whisked and I whisk until the mixture doubled in size. By now the cream is hot, and I quickly whisked the hot cream into the eggs. Then it all goes back on the stove, and guess what I did next? More. Cussing. Whisking.
Now at this time the directions say to lower the heat of the oven that the eclairs have been baking in for the past 15 minutes, and prop it open using a wooden spoon. SO I’m whisking and whisking and whisking and whisking, all while I’m standing over an open 375 degree oven, and just praying this cussing cream will thicken. I became a little too impatient, and scrambled my stinkin’ eggs. I pray that running it through a strainer will save it. (It doesn’t)
I peak at my eclairs, and they are really dark, so I think that they need to come out now or they will burn. This recipe doesn’t know what they’re talking about. WRONG! I am Ten minutes wrong. I pull the fluffy pastry sticks out of the oven, and they immediately deflate. After they cool I cut into them, and feel a slightly sticky interior. Underbaked you moron!
Well, at least I know how to make ganache (Guh-nah-sh). I heat my cream and my expensive dark 70% cocoa chocolate I got just for this fancy project and barf! The chocolate is WAY too bitter. So I pitch it and remake the ganache with semi-sweet chocolate chips from Aldi.
I Slit my “eclairs” down the middle, and spoon the creme patisserie in, then spoon some chocolate on top. I take a bite, and immediately I hear Paul Hollywoods voice “The flavors are good, but they’re underbaked. That’s a shame.”
The good news is my husband LOVED them. As you can see the photo of the final project only has 5 remaining eclairs, I started out with 8. I can’t wait until he has one that is properly made.
After an hour of work, I got flat eclairs, runny creme patisserie, bitter ganache, and no feeling in my arms. Though this was an EPIC fail, and I fell flat on my baking face, that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up. We all fail in the kitchen sometimes, but that doesn’t mean we quit. Learn from your mistakes, and try again.
Do you all have any good baking/cooking fails? Share in the comments below.
Food Tried and Approved by the Breedlove Kitchen