Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery is one of the most highly-regarded in the country. There are lines at both New York City locations on a regular basis, and the desserts and baked goods are impressive both for their uniqueness, and for the sheer artistry that's involved with making them.
One recent afternoon, we stopped by the Rockefeller Center bakery for an éclair tutorial with chef Alessandra Altieri. We made P-te à Choux pastry dough and then assembled a delectable and seasonal dessert: the summer raspberry éclair.
Here's how you do it.
Pâte à Choux ingredients
1 ¼ cups (175 grams) All-purpose flour
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (33 grams) Granulated sugar
1 cup (240 grams) Water
4.2 ounces (120 grams) Unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ + 1/8 teaspoons (2.5 grams) Kosher salt
1 cup (250 grams) Eggs
Yield: 16 éclairs(Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Combine water, butter, sugar & salt
Combine the water, butter, sugar 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. (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Add the flour
With a stiff heatproof or wooden spoon, stir in all of the flour. Continue to stir for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture has a paste-like consistency. (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Continue to stir
Place over 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. (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Transfer to mixing bowl
Immediately transfer the dough to the mixer bowl and mix on low for about 30 seconds to release some of the moisture. You will see some steam in the bowl. (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Add the eggs
Slowly begin adding the eggs, about 50 grams/3 tablespoons at a time, beating until each addition is completely absorbed before adding the next one. Continue adding the eggs, reserving 25 grams / 1 ½ tablespoons, 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 of 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. If the dough is too stiff, add the reserved egg.(Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Chill the dough
Transfer dough to a bowl. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for approximately 2-3 hours, or until it is chilled through. (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Make a template
Begin by making 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. (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Fill the pastry bag
Spoon chilled pâte á choux dough into a pastry bag that is fitted with a French Star Tip (Bouchon recommends the Ateco #867). (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Pipe the éclairs
Starting at the side of the Silpat (or parchment) 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.(Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Time to bake
Position the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375F.
Place the sheet pans in the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the éclairs are beginning to brown; rotate the pans halfway through. Lower the temperature to 325°F and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Lower the temperature to 300°F 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.(Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Slice off the top
Take your cooled éclair and carefully slice off the top and discard it. (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Filling 1: raspberry jam
Take your pastry bag of raspberry jam and pipe a thin layer into the bottom of the éclair. (Note: Bouchon makes its own raspberry jam, but any quality store-bought jam is fine.) (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Filling 2: diplomat crème
Take your pastry bag of diplomat crème, which is a mixture of pastry cream and whipped cream, and fill the remaining space of the éclair. (Note: Bouchon makes its own diplomat crème, but any quality vanilla pudding will do.) (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Take your pastry bag of sweetened whipped cream and pipe on the top of the éclair a decorative spiraling design.
Sweetened Whipped Cream (Makes 1 1?2 cups or 150 grams)
½ cup + 2 tablespoons Heavy Cream (150 grams)
2-1/4 teaspoons Powdered Sugar (5 grams)
1/2 Vanilla Bean, split lengthwise
Bouchon likes to use a high-fat cream (40%) and prefers powdered sugar because it dissolves more easily than granulated sugar. Whip the cream just before you need it: it can break break down in the refrigerator.
Place the cream and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them to the cream. Whisk at medium speed until the cream holds a shape when you lift it on the whisk and, if you will be piping it, is just stiff enough to be piped through a pastry bag; do not over-whip. It's best to spread or pipe the cream immediately after whipping.(Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
Decorate with raspberries
Decorate top with a row of fresh raspberries (approximately 8 raspberries per éclair). (Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)
We want to be eating the raspberry éclair from Bouchon Bakery all season long. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
This recipe is adapted from "Bouchon Bakery" by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel (Artisan Books). Copyright (c) 2012. Photographs by Deborah Jones.(Credit: GEORGIA KRAL)