Week 6 of Bake Off saw the tent taken over by Pastry Week with a technical that saw filo pastry return to the tent for the first time since Series 7 as the bakers made a large baklava and a showstopping terrine pie using hot water crust pastry. The signature is the challenge that I have attempted this time and the bakers had to make chouxnuts, doughnuts made using choux pastry that is fried instead of baked. I decided to flavour my Chouxnuts with a matcha glaze and a cherry glaze!
My recipe is based off Edd Kimber’s French Cruller recipe. He uses strong bread flour for the choux pastry for its higher gluten content which will help the chouxnuts to keep their structure after frying. But apart from the different flour used, the process remains the same. The margarine is melted in the water until the water boils, then the flour is added immediately to the liquid and cooked out over heat until a film forms on the bottom of the saucepan. Then egg is beaten into the pastry dough until it has the correct consistency and piped and fried.
And with choux pastry, the flavour often comes from its filling and glazes. I wanted to keep the chouxnuts unfilled here and simply glaze them and I wanted glazes with strong flavours and also strong colours – matcha and cherry fit that bill. For the matcha glaze, I simply add matcha powder to icing sugar and a little bit of green food colouring to make the green stronger. For the cherry glaze, I warm up some cherry conserve and mix into the icing sugar with some lemon juice and water. This gives such a strong hit of cherry flavour and is super vibrant!
For the choux pastry dough:
- 125g margarine or unsalted butter
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 135g strong white bread flour
- 4 large eggs, beaten together
For the matcha glaze:
- 100g icing sugar
- 3g matcha powder
- Green gel food colouring mixed into water
- Melted white chocolate, to decorate
For the cherry glaze:
- 100g icing sugar
- 50g cherry conserve
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Melted white chocolate, to decorate
In a saucepan, place 250ml of cold water with the margarine, sugar and salt. Cook over a medium heat until the margarine has all melted and the water has started to boil. Once the liquid is at a rolling boil, remove the pan from the heat and add in all of the flour all at once and stir quickly until the dough begins to come together. Return the pan to a medium heat and cook the dough until a floury film forms at the bottom of the pan. Allow the mixture to cool for around 15 minutes. Once cool, transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl.
While the dough cools, prepare the baking parchment. Cut out squares of baking parchment that measure at least 12cm square. Depending on the size you pipe your dough, this will make anywhere from 12 to 15 chouxnuts. Set these aside. If they curl up, place a weight on top of them to flatten.
To finish the dough, begin beating it with the mixer and gradually add in the beaten egg, adding in more only once the previous addition has been added. After half of the egg has been added, you should add less egg each time until the correct consistency has been achieved. The choux pastry should be glossy and smooth and able to hold its shape. When you take a small bit of dough between your fingers, you should be able to stretch it 2cm to 3cm. If the dough tears or rips, it needs more egg and anything else and there is too much egg. Then beat the dough for 2 to 3 minutes to smooth out the dough and develop gluten.
Place the choux pastry into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Pipe rings of the choux pastry onto the baking parchment squares, leaving a circle in the middle about 3cm wide until you have used up most of the dough. Save a little bit to test the oil temperature.
Pour oil into a large pan or a wok. Place the oil over a medium heat until it reaches a temperature of 190°C. You can test the oil temperature by placing a little bit of the reserved dough and the dough should start to bubble as soon as it hits the oil. Lift the piped choux rings with the baking parchment and carefully place in the oil with the baking parchment upwards, the piped side down in the oil. After a few seconds, you can lift off the parchment. Fry the chouxnuts for around 5 to 6 minutes total, until the chouxnuts are an even strong golden brown colour and are well risen, ensuring you press down during the frying process to cook through fully and turning after halfway. Once they are cooked, place them onto kitchen paper to drain any excess oil. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before glazing. Repeat with the remaining chouxnuts.
For the matcha glaze, mix some green gel food colouring in some water. In a bowl, stir together the icing sugar and matcha powder until well mixed. Add the water gradually to form an icing that is thick but also fluid enough to not drip down the chouxnuts. For the cherry glaze, heat the cherry conserve in the microwave to slacken and add into the icing sugar and begin to stir until the conserve absorbs the sugar. Gradually add water to form an icing of the same consistency.
To glaze the chouxnuts, dip them with the piped side down into the glazes, pressing down to ensure it is glazed well but being careful not to break the chouxnut. Use a spoon to fill in any gaps on the surface. Set on a cooling rack to allow the glaze to harden, about 20 minutes. Before the glaze sets fully, drizzle one half of the chouxnut with white chocolate and set.
The chouxnuts are best eaten on the day they are made.
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