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Afternoon Tea - Cream Puffs

The afternoon tea ideas are continuing today with a pastry element. Dreamy, light, golden, crispy, airy choux pastry; topped with a crackled effect and filled with Chantilly cream and fresh strawberries – what is not to love!?

These look amazing and are a perfect addition to your afternoon tea party. Please don’t be scared that this involves making pastry, or even that with this pastry you make it on the hob – it is just a matter of beating with a wooden spoon – it’s as simple as that! Follow the recipe point by point and you will be fine.

As with the Friands I shared at the beginning of the month, you can replace the fresh strawberries with another fruity filling to the base. Lemon curd works a treat too!

You will need to make these as close to serving them as you can, keep them as the last job to do as they do go soft after a time.

The cream filling and the crackle topping (called craquelin) can be made in advance so its just the choux buns to make at the end.

Berry Cream Puffs

For the choux

40g plain flour

45g strong bread flour

60g unsalted butter, cubed

1 tsp caster sugar

2 large free ranged eggs

1/4 tsp salt

120ml water

For the craquelin

25g plain flour

25g caster sugar

20g unsalted butter, room temperature

For the filling

300ml double cream

1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted

1/2 vanilla pod seeds

100g fresh strawberries, diced or any berries

  • First make the craquelin, which will be small discs that sit onto of the choux balls before baking and melt over the top to create a beautiful crackled effect. To make the craquelin, beat the sugar, butter and flour with electric beaters until combined and it forms a dough.

  • Removed the dough and roll it to 2mm thin between two sheets of greaseproof paper. Pop into the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove from the freezer and cut 4cm round discs from it and then place the discs back into the freezer until you are ready to use them.

  • To make the choux pastry, place the sugar, butter, salt and water into a medium saucepan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted, add both the flours and beat strongly with a wooden spoon until it looks like a dough. Turn the heat down to low and continue to beat for 3 more minutes.

  • Remove from the heat and continue stiring to help it cool down. Once it has stopped steaming, add one of the eggs and with a wooden spoon, beat again to combine. Then add the second egg and beat again. It should now be looking glossy and thick, when you lift the wooden spoon out you should see a ‘V’ shape of pastry hanging from the edge of the spoon. Allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a large piping bag.

  • Preheat oven to 180ºC

  • Line 2 baking sheets and pipe 4cm dollops with a 3cm gap in between each one. Once you have done them all, lightly wet your finger with water and tap down any little peaks that may have formed from piping to create a smooth surface.

  • Top each one with your prepared craquelin from the freezer and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a lovely golden colour and puffed up. Once baked turned the oven off and leave the oven door open slightly to allow the heat to escape slowly and the choux buns to cool gently.

  • Whilst they are cooling you can make the Chantilly cream filling. Pour the double cream into a medium bowl and add the icing sugar and vanilla bean seeds. Whisk until soft peaks form.

  • Once the choux buns are cold, cut the tops off with a serrated knife and add a few diced strawberries into the bottom, then dollop or pipe in the Chantilly cream to fully fill the choux buns before popping their little hats back on top.

  • Serve as soon as possible to keep them crisp.

How glamorous do they look!? It seems fiddly to do, but like I said before, there are a couple of steps you can get out of the way first and then its just baking the choux buns.

Next week is the last in the afternoon tea series, so head back next Friday to get the final recipe and the finishing details.

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