Sunday, February 03, 2013

Easy When You Know How.

Sometimes, it seems as though instructions - especially when baking - are more complcated than they need be, with warnings of failure if the exact weights and mixing methods are not adhered to.
Whether I'm just lucky, but have 'discovered' that we can make adjustments - often quite large ones - and still the end product is as good as when made 'correctly'.  
An example.  Choux pastry is almost universally agreed to be 'difficult to make', and best made by experienced cooks.  Well it might be if we stuck to using the exact amount of ingredients, and yet as I can never be bothered weighing (say) four and a HALF ounces of something, decided to make my own version - this being 'one of everything'.   So easy, so simple, and no need to keep referring to a cookbook.

For those who might like to have a go at making choux pastry (profiteroles and eclairs), all you need do is put 1 fl oz of water and 1 fl oz of milk into a pan with 1 oz of butter.  Heat until the butter has dissolved and the water begins to boil, then tip in 1 oz of strong plain flour.  Using a wooden spoon, beat until the mixture has left the sides of the pan, remove from heat, wait 1 minute for it to cool, then beat in 1 egg until the mixture is smooth and falls from the wooden spoon like a thick ribbon.
(If there is going to any problem, it might be the consistency of the mixture.  If too 'runny' due to using a large egg, then beat in a teaspoon of flour.  If too thick, then beat in a teaspoon of warm water).  All this made in the pan, so no washing up of bowls to do.
Pipe the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment - the above is enough to form 10 small blobs - these, when baked rising to make 10 large 'blobs' (aka profiteroles), or pipe 5 or 6 'fingers' (to make eclairs). 
Bake as given with any recipe for choux pastry.  Once risen and brown, slit the buns/eclairs to let the steam out, return to the oven and cook for a few minutes more to dry out.  This can be done with the door left slightly open, or turn out the oven and keep the door closed.

Wasn't planning to mention the above, it was more to prove that even a 'classic' recipe can be adapted to make things easier for us, and having found the recipe for macaroons, can (almost) understand why they are costly to buy, not because the ingredients are dear, but we are always led to believe these are difficult, and best made by experienced cooks.  Maybe because the egg whites have to be treated in two ways, one being part made into an Italian meringue (this involves dissolving sugar in water to a high heat, then pouring this slowly into beaten egg whites, and continuing to beat until the mixture has cooled, This is nonsense.  However, there are some 'tricks of the trade' that do help, so will give these after I've given my EASY recipe.