blong and elegant, simple, but sophisticated, éclair is one of the French classics. The combination of freshly baked, crispy pâte à choux shell, light crème pâtissière and sweet fondant icing is a symphony of flavors and textures for your taste buds. No wonder the French are so proud and sensitive about their éclairs! And when it comes to making them, you’ll learn that it’s always the most difficult task to achieve perfection within simplicity.
How to Make Perfect Éclairs
This is not the easiest task, I have to tell you honestly, however, when you succeed, the feeling is indispensable! So let’s start!
First things first, you need to make . The next important thing is piping. Éclair should be 13cm (5 inches) long, perfectly straight and uniform. And the most efficient way to make your éclairs straight and uniform is to make a quick sketch on your parchment paper and follow it. If that doesn’t help – you can always scrape the piped choux off your parchment paper and start again!
Once you are happy with your piping, it is time for the egg wash. This is usually a tricky step because it is easy to damage the meticulously piped éclairs with your brush, or to apply too much egg wash, so it drips all over the pan and interferes with rising. What to do? Get the softest brush, be extra gentle, and take off the excess of the egg wash each time before applying it to your éclairs. The safest alternative to the egg wash – dust your éclairs with powdered sugar. When they bake, the sugar will caramelize, and you will end up with beautifully dark golden and crispy éclairs.
It is crucial that you bake your choux just right. The oven should be pretty hot; to be precise 200°C (400°F), and after 10-15 minutes when the éclairs rise, you should turn the oven down to 160°C (320°F). Continue baking for another 30-35 minutes. Of course, every oven is different, so you will have to experiment with the temperatures, and then you can determine what works the best for your oven. Well baked éclairs should be puffed, golden brown, and dry inside. If you are not sure they are done, you can break one and check if it’s wet and soggy inside. If so, continue baking for another 10-15 minutes.
What Can Go Wrong?
Éclairs are Wrong Sized
No matter you want to admit it or not, size matters! And the French are particularly sensitive about that, because when you make a good sized éclair, you get a perfect ratio of crispy choux, silky filling and a sweet glaze. The wrong size disturbs the balance. So, there are three options:
- Éclairs individuels (individual éclairs): 13cm (5 inches) long and 2.5cm (1 inch) thick
- Éclairs lunch: 6cm (2.5 inches) long and 1.5cm (5⁄8 inches) thick
- Éclairs carolines: 5cm (2 inches) long and 1cm (3⁄8 inches) thick
Your Éclairs are Flat
There can be several reasons for this kind of fault. The first one is that you opened the oven doors too early or too often during baking. Your éclairs could be underbaked, or you’ve put too much egg wash, and it prevented the rise of your éclairs. Anyway, if you are in this situation, don’t despair, you can always bake the flat éclairs until they are done, cut them horizontally and pipe your filling nicely, put some decoration, and I believe your folks at home won’t mind!
Mind the Crack, Please!
Crackly éclairs are not a great fault. However, the filling might leak out, and you won’t have a nice glaze no matter how hard you try. Éclairs with a crack are pretty ugly, to be truthful. So, make sure you add the salt to the recipe! That will prevent cracking if everything else is done well. There is one more important thing. You can pipe éclairs using a plain tip or a star tip. If you use a plain tip, you should scrape your éclairs with a fork lengthwise and create indents. That way when éclairs rise, the surface of the choux will stretch, and it won’t crack. The easier way is simply to use a star tip. There is one more thing that can cause crackly éclairs, and that is a fan in your oven. Choux pastry doesn’t bake well with the oven fan on, it prefers steady heat, so by all means, turn the fan off!
Soggy Éclairs – no, Thank You!
When I take a bite of an éclair, I expect it to be a little bit crispy, with a creamy filling, not too sweet, tasty and well chilled. I don’t ask too much, right? So, if the choux is so soggy that I even can’t tell that I ate it, that éclair is not good, no matter how beautiful it looks. Why? It is probably filled the day before or even earlier. The wet filling will soak the dried choux very quickly, and éclair will lose that perfect ratio of textures I mentioned earlier. The solution? Fill your éclairs an hour before the tasting and amaze your guests with a professional looks and taste of your homemade éclairs!
Well, what do you think about this post?
I read and really appreciate all the comments, even though I do not always have the time to respond to each one. So – keep me in the loop and try to create some sweetness every day because – Sweetness is happiness!!