French Baking, Part 1: Éclair

So what about French pastries?  Are they really as good as their reputation?  The answer is:  Absolutely!

Going to a real pâtisserie is an amazing experience.  One of the modern laments in France in that neighborhood bakeries are getting fewer and fewer because of the growing number of supermarkets and that many bakeries attempt to be both a pâtisserie (pastry bakery) and boulangerie (bread bakery.)   It is a commonly held belief that a pâtissier (pastry chef) and a boulanger (baker), while both well-respected as professionals, have totally different skill sets.  Purists argue a good boulanger cannot also be a good pâtissier.  Visiting dedicated pâtisseries and trying their pastries have made me a believer of that assertion.

Pâtisserie
Pâtisserie

I thought I would discuss the classic French pastry, the éclair, first.  An éclair is made with pâte à choux, a light pastry dough.  The reason a pâtisserie’s expertise is required is that éclairs are baked without using any rising agent.  The pâtisserie uses only the moisture in the pâte à choux dough to create steam that “puffs” the pastry.

I visited my neighborhood pâtisserie saw and smelled some incredible treats on display.  The window had large empty spaces from early rising shoppers.

Pâtisserie Display
Pâtisserie Display
Pâtisserie Display
Pâtisserie Display

I purchased two éclairs and the pâtisserie proceeded to carefully box and wrap the pastries, in Tracy’s words, “like a Christmas gift from Nordstroms.”

Éclair Box
Éclair Box

So how do they taste? Incredibly good!  The  éclair’s exterior is tan and crisp with layers of soft pastry inside.  The filling is actually custard, rich and thick, not whipped cream or pudding.  Chocolate and coffee iced éclairs are the most common with matching chocolate and coffee custard filling inside.  The richness of the pastry and custard make a single éclair a complete treat.  Melt in your mouth delicious.

Éclair
Éclair
Advertisements

8 thoughts on “French Baking, Part 1: Éclair

  1. I will comment on the E’clair (can’t get that punctuation point on top of the “E) in and second.

    What was funny is I wanted to translate that the first comment to see what the person said in Italian. I was getting frustrated because it wouldn’t translate. That’s because it’s in French it appears they are talking about a plug in for an Android. Sorry, I just am fascinated with translating languages with my Iphone app or on the the computer.

    My mouth was literally watering reading this and looking at the pics! The header pic looks like maple?? And Tracy’s comment was spot on!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s