Joe asked if I'd make pastries for his birthday today -- profiteroles or eclairs, he had in mind -- and I said BAKING = LOVE, KID. So this afternoon I mixed up a batch of choux pastry and popped it in the oven.
The first couple of times I made choux pastry I had trouble with soggy insides, but I'm better at getting the innards dry these days. I baked my buns at 400 for 20 minutes, poked holes in them and then dried them out in the oven for another five minutes. The trouble I keep having is that most of the round buns defy gravity. Just a tiny thin crust sticks to the baking sheet, and the rest of the pastry hurls itself skyward. This makes for buns that look pretty but aren't really fillable. It's possible that the trouble comes from piping spirals -- I wonder if I'd have better luck if I piped out a single big blob instead.
Then I ran into trouble with the crème pâtissière. I've made incremental progress from my first few attempts, when I wound up with something tasty but totally drinkable. I was hoping for something a little better than incremental progress, though. This afternoon I took it off the heat when the flour started thickening up, thinking that it would keep on thickening as it cooled. But clearly I needed to be a little braver. This was milkshake consistency rather than milk consistency, but still not thick enough to stay put inside a choux bun. It oozed out gently rather than pouring out, but let's hope for a bigger step forward next time.
It worked well enough. I'm not baking for Paul Hollywood over here-- except that Joe loves to trot out his Paul Hollywood impression. "Underproved!" he shouted as I stirred the ganache. "Sweetheart," I told him, "you do not want me putting yeast in your chocolate ganache." Undeterred, he moved on and inspected the custard. "Underproved!" he told me again. "Underproved!" he said insistently as he picked up a bun. (That sounds obnoxious but it was all in fun. He's the most willing to bake something complicated, and -- perhaps in consequence -- particularly appreciative of complicated baking efforts.)
This is what fifteen looks like: fascinated by magic, enthusiastic about Miles Davis, full of jokes and plans, and somehow two inches taller than me. Happy birthday, sweetheart.