By Veronica

Choux à la crème

Lézignan has a large and well-appointed apprentice training centre, where among other trades, they teach would-be chefs. Back in December they started trial running half-day workshops for the general public on Saturday mornings. So I signed up for today's choux pastry workshop to see what it would be like. Yes, I do already know how to make choux pastry, but I find it's always worth listening to and watching professional chefs because they show you better ways of doing things.

After coffee (with very good freshly baked croissants, bien sûr !), there were ten of us in a vast kitchen dedicated to baking and patisserie; each of us had ample bench space and a dedicated heavy-duty mixer. Round one was a batch of choux pastry which we made into buns and chouquettes (small choux buns topped with coarse sugar). I never pipe stuff at home, I just use spoons to dollop with, so this was a learning curve: my piped buns looked like dog turds. However once I'd patted them into shape and glazed them with egg, the oven did the rest and they came out looking quite presentable (blip) -- if uneven in shape and size (extra).

While they were cooking we made some crème mousseline. Again I know how to make classic crème pâtissière, so it was good to learn a variation: crème pâtissière with an unspeakably large amount of softened butter beaten into it. Yum :) 

While that was chilling, we got to have a second go at choux. With the opportunity for more practice and a slower and steadier approach to piping, my cheese gougères were much more shapely, and absolutely delicious. While they were baking, we piped our crème mousseline into our choux buns. I arrived home with industrial quantities of patisserie, some of which I gave away, before we had a very choux-laden lunch. It was worth going; I'd do it again for the right topic. And I'll be more confident with a piping bag now.

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