A light choux éclair with an (optional) vanilla biscuit topping
For the choux pastry:
120g plain flour
1 pinch salt
100mL whole milk
80g unsalted butter
4 large eggs
10g caster sugar
For the smooth vanilla crème:
1 vanilla bean
30g corn flour
400mL whole-fat milk
4 egg yolks
25g unsalted butter
80 caster sugar
1 cup double cream
For the biscuit (optional):
100g unsalted butter, very cold
125g caster sugar
125g plain flour
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the biscuit topping: (optional)...Cut the chilled butter into pieces and mix into the flour sugar and vanilla until combined and resembles breadcrumbs.
Bring the mix together into a ball by using your hands and refrigerate for one hour
For the Éclairs: Pre-heat the oven to 180°C degrees, melt the butter into the milk & water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Add the flour, sugar and salt all at once and rapidly mix with a wooden spoon till the dough comes together into a ball.
Transfer the dough to a bowl and allow to cool. Mix in the eggs with a wooden spoon, one at a time, till the dough is smooth and glossy.
Fill a large piping bag with a 1" / 2.5cm nozzle and pipe out long ‘sausages’ about 6cm long onto a tray lined with baking paper. Make sure to leave about 10cm between each pastry to leave room for them to spread.
Once this is done, take the biscuit topping out of the fridge and lightly knead to soften, and then place between two sheets of non-stick baking paper or plastic wrap and roll flat to about 1-2mm thick. Cut into rectangles about 4cm x 12cm, to make sure that it completely covers the éclairs and hangs off the sides.
Place each rectangle of ‘biscuit’ topping on top of each éclair, then bake for 10 minutes, then jam the oven door open about 3mm (the handle of a wooden spoon is great for this) and allow to bake for another 20 minutes or till they are golden on top and fully puffed up. Set aside to cool before filling.
For the vanilla créme: Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar, then add the corn flour and whisk till mixture becomes pale yellow and thickened. Set aside.
Pour the milk in to a pan and scrape the vanilla into the milk. Bring to a simmer.
Slowly pour the milk into the egg yolk mixture in a thin stream while constantly beating.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and bring to a boil while whisking constantly, making sure to scrape down the sides.
Leave the mixture to cool for about 10 minutes so that it’s no longer boiling, then briskly whisk in the butter until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
Scrape the mixture into a non-reactive bowl and keep tightly covered with plastic wrap till ready to use. Once you’re ready to fill the éclair’s, beat the cream to firm peaks then carefully mix together the cream and the pastry cream with a spatula.
Fill a piping bag with the mixture then pipe each éclair with the pastry cream in three places and dust with icing sugar before serving.