“One of the qualities I have come to appreciate in a bakery, is the community it draws around it. Whether it’s for croissants in the morning or cookies and an afternoon coffee, a bakery has a central place in our communities” – Thomas Keller
And so, late one afternoon, a small group of magazine editors and TV presenters find ourselves, gathered around the central pastry table in the kitchen of newly opened Bouchon Bakery in JBR to take part in a pastry masterclass headed up by the legendary Thomas Keller along with his pastry chef Ali. We were going to learn a little about French viennoiseries and pastry and to take part in a masterclass where we would put our piping skills to the test filling Mango Eclairs and TKO’s, Chef Kellers version of the Oreos.
Our class was casual, and started off with Thomas pouring me water and joking when I clicked a picture of him doing so, “yes, I am taking a photo” I replied, after all how many times can you say a chef who has Michelin star restaurants has poured water for you!*
*Thomas is billed as having seven Michelin stars, but that’s factually incorrect as the stars are awarded to the restaurant and not the chef. But he does come with Michelin star credentials through his business, Thomas Keller Group. Bouchon (not the bakery) located in Napa County, California has one star, The French Laundry also in Napa County, has three Michelin stars, as does Per Se (in New York)
For the love of Eclairs
“The éclair is a wonder French tradition. For decades-centuries, probably – the only type made in France was the traditional pastry-cream-filled éclair with a chocolate, coffee or plain white fondant glaze. As the craft of pâtisserie has evolved, eclairs with different filings and difference glazes have become common” – Thomas Keller, Bouchon Bakery Book
If you don’t have the Bouchon Bakery book, don’t worry, we managed to get hold of the recipe for the mango éclair which I filled during the class and which you can find on the shelves at Bouchon Bakery in Dubai.
Makes – 12 Eclairs
For the Éclair Shells
- 175g All-purpose flour
- 33g Granulated sugar
- 240g Water
- 120g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2.5g kosher salt
- 250g eggs
Make the Choux Pastry
- Combine the flour and sugar in a small bowl.
- Combine the water, butter and salt in a medium saucepan
- Place over medium heat, and stir as the butter melts (starting at too high a temperature will evaporate some of the water before the butter has melted).
- Once the butter has melted, increase the heat to medium high and bring to a simmer, then remove the pan from the heat and, with a still heatproof or wooden spoon, stir in all the flour and sugar mixture.
- Continue to stir then place over a medium heat and stir rapidly for 1 to 2 minutes, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and the bottom of the pan is clean; the dough should be glossy and smooth but not dry.
- Immediately transfer the dough to the mixer bowl and mix on low for about 30 seconds to release some of the moisture. Slowly begin adding the eggs, about 50 grams at a time, beating until each addition is completely absorbed before adding the next one.
- Continue adding the eggs, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl when pulled with the paddle but then grabs back on again.
- Increase the speed to medium and mix for 15 seconds to be sure all the eggs are incorporated. Stop the mixer
- When the paddle is lifted, the dough should form a bird’s beak – it should hold its shape and turn down over itself but not break off.
- Transfer the dough to a pastry bag and refrigerate until cold before using. *
*You’ll need a pastry bag with an Ateco #867 French star tip the book says, but I’m sure you can substitute with something else you have at home
Piping & Baking the Eclairs
Make a template:
- The guidelines for the eclairs should be visible through the lighter portion of a Silpat (non-stick silicone baking sheet).
- Using a fine-tip marker, draw six 6-inch lines 2 inches apart on a large piece of parchment paper. Place the parchment on a sheet pan and position the Silpat over it.
To Pipe and Bake the Eclairs:
- Starting at the side of the Silpat farthest from you, hold the tip of the pastry bag 1 inch above the pan and apply gentle, steady pressure as you pipe the first éclair following the template lines.
- Once you are about 1/8th of an inch from the end of the 6” line, begin to lessen the pressure, and then stop it as you bring the dough slightly back over itself.
- Pipe 7 more éclairs on the pan in the same fashion. Carefully slide out the template and repeat with a second sheet pan.
- Wet your finger in some water and press down the tip of each éclair, then spray them lightly with water.
- Place the sheet pans in the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 350F. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the eclairs are beginning to brown: rotate the pans halfway through.
- Lower the temperature to 325F and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Lower the temperature to 300F and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until the puffs are light and feel hollow. If you break one open, the center should be completely cooked.
- Set on a cooling rack and cool completely before filling.
- 112g Sugar
- 50g 40% fat cream
- 200g Mango, pureed
- 6g citric acid
- 20g Cornstarch
- 132g White Chocolate, Guittard
- 0.5g salt
- 155g Butter, cold
- In a mixing bowl, whisk cornstarch and cream to make a slurry. Make sure the slurry is smooth and has no lumps of cornstarch.
- Place sugar, mango puree, and citric acid in a pot and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, scale the white chocolate in a large bowl
- Once the mango mixture has come to a boil, whisk the slurry into the hot puree while on medium-high heat.
- Continue whisking vigorously while the mixture is at a rolling boil on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes to cook the cornstarch. The mixture will be very thick.
- Pour the mixture over the chocolate
- Use a hand blender to combine everything until it is fully emulsified. Add the salt, and then blend in the butter in 4 stages. Blend until everything is well emulsified and smooth.
- Stop and scrape the sides of the container to ensure all is truly incorporated and then blend for one more minute.
- Pour ganache into a shallow dish and cover the surface with cling wrap. Allow to chill in the refrigerator overnight before using.
- 250g Greek Yogurt
- 30g powdered sugar
- In a mixing bowl, combine the yogurt and powdered sugar
- Whisk until stiff peaks
- Peel a fresh mango and cut the mango pieces into 5mm cubes. Reserve to the side
- Using a serrated knife, cut the top off about 2 cmm deep so the éclair is flat and hollow. Discard top.
- Using a pastry bag filled with the Yogurt Cream, fill the eclairs until full to the top
- Fill the second pastry bag with the mango ganache
- Using a pastry bag fitted with a #9 star tip, pipe circling rosettes starting from the top of the éclair circling down to the bottom of the éclair
- Garnish the éclair with 7 pieces of cubed mangos on top.
- Chill before serving
Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
The Elair Pastry recipe is taken directly from the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook by Thomas Keller which was gifted to us during our Masterclass. Not only is it beautiful in terms of recipes and photography, it’s filled full of tips to help anyone to be able to try and replicate the recipes at home with useful diagrams, hints, tips and photographs of method etc. It’s a hefty addition to my cookbook collection, but one that seems to be just at home on a coffee table as it does in the recipe section of my growing bookshelf. The inscription from Thomas “Debbie – It’s all about memories” makes it all the more special.
PS – the yogurt and mango ganache recipe was provided by the Bouchon Bakery team in Dubai and we can heartily vouch for it, it’s divine!
Hints & Tips :
On Making Eclairs : Chef Sebastian * Says:
Pâte à choux (Choux pastry) is wonderful, but also unpredictable. It can puff out in all directions and often cracks. Especially if you don’t add enough egg. Perhaps people worry that the dough will become too loose if they add more egg, but not adding enough results in a stiff dough that’s likely to develop big fissures while baking. And the dough needs the suppleness and flexibility the egg white provides.
Other tricks of the trade: If piping the ough free-form onto a Silpat or parchment paper, chill it before you pipe it, so it doesn’t spread too much. Or pipe the dough into molds for perfect and uniform cream puffs every time. (they’re also much easier to make this way.) Mist the pâte à choux with water before putting it into the over to encourage a good even rise without cracking.
Tips from our Pastry Class – you might need to cook the choux for a few extra minutes to allow it to thoroughly dry out and to compensate for the humidity in Dubai.
* Sebastian Rouxel – Executive Pastry Chef for the Thomas Keller Group.
And finally, my tip … if all of this seems like a lot of fuss and bother and you don’t have the necessary prep time, pop to Bouchon Bakery and simply buy one 🙂
The French Breakfast
This was not my first visit, I visited Bouchon Bakery a few weeks ago for breakfast and found the breakfast menu a little lacking in “Frenchness” for my taste, possibly because I’d just returned from a trip to France and my expecations were matched to that trip. To be fair the bakery had not long been open and one of the waiters told me menu changes would be coming. That aside I had a really good mushroom quiche for breakfast whilst my pal had smoked salmon. Our savoury breakfast didn’t set our hearts pounding as much as a quick wander to the pastry counter did and we ordered a couple of items from the patisserie area. My pal enjoyed the Rosewater Paris Brest, a traditional French classic with the addition of rosewater for a Middle Eastern twist, which was light and delicate and delicious. I had the Blueberry Religieuse which was one of the best treats I’ve had in a long time. A heavier dessert than the Paris Brest, the blueberry filling was packed full of flavor and the crème patisserie was rich and decadent and the little bit of icing on the top, the perfect sweet ending. #swoon!
Visiting Bouchon? Watch out for some of the Bouchon Bakery specials including the signature Bouchons – which are rich, chocolately petite brownies filled with semi-sweet morsels – you’ll have to tell me how they are as I prefer creamy desserts, tart lemon ones, or shock horror white chocolate! Having said that the Macarons looked good too!.
TK Espresso Coffee
Coffee lovers will be interested to know that Bouchon has its own TK Espresso signature blend of coffee which is by Equator Coffee and Teas, but apparently is locally roasted. The blend has been developed to satisfy Chef Keller’s desire for an espresso that is not only rich and complex but, one that could stand on its own (as he takes his espresso) or in milk as many coffee drinkers prefer. I enjoyed the coffee as an Americano and espresso, but asked for an additional shot when served as a latte as personally I needed a little more kick than a single espresso delivered. That said it’s a decent coffee with good credentials. A quick chat with Chef Keller at the end was interesting as he revealed that he is a Speciality Coffee lover who really enjoys his single origin coffee, however he doesn’t see single origins making their way into his business, but instead he says the blend changes from time to time.
The blend comes with some great credentials and highlights a coffee that is produced by a small group of farmers who each cultivate one and two acre plots in the western part of the Indonesian island Java. A natural processed coffee from Sul de Minas, Brazil contributes body and delicate fruity and nutty tones. The blend also features two coffees from East Africa – a dried-in-the-fruit natural processed coffee from the Guji district in Southern Ethiopia and a fully washed coffee from cooperatives located on the southern slopes of Mt. Kenya.
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Blueberry Reliegieuse and Bouchon Bakery Book
Chef Thomas Keller Talking about TKO’s
Wandering around Bouchon Bakery we spy desserts!
The masterclass attendees with Thomas Keller