In this post I am sharing with you the detailed step by step recipe of eclairs. It’s indeed more difficult to have nice, smooth, cracks-free shells of eclairs than for choux.
You can prepare them in advance and store them in an airtight box in the freezer for up to one month. Whenever you need to fill them, just reheat them at 170°C for 2/3 minutes.
- Stainless steel mixing bowl
- Stand mixer equipped with flat beater
- Wooden turner or spatula
- Baking tray lined with Silpat mat
- 140 g Eggs Less than 3 eggs
- 90 g Flour
- 75 g Butter
- 190 g Full fat milk Fresh if possible
- 3 g Sugar Use precision scale
- 2.5 g Table salt Use precision scale
- Bring the eggs to room temperature. Whisk them lightly to combine the whites and the yolks so that when added to the dough later, you get an even mix of whites and yolks at each addition.
- Preheat the oven at 240°C.
- Sieve the flour.
- Cut the butter into small cubes (maximum 2cmx2cm).
- Place the milk, the butter, the salt and the sugar in the saucepan and heat them.
- Stir from time to time to dissolve the salt and sugar, and so that the butter melts before the mix comes to a boil.
- As soon as it starts boiling, remove from the heat (but don't switch off the stove).
- Add ALL the sifted flour in ONE GO. Mix immediately (off the heat) using the wooden turner (or a spatula not too flexible).
- Ensure there are no lumps at this stage, so do not hesitate to flatten any lumps with the spatula as you mix. This step is important to ensure that the flour absorbs the moisture of the liquid mix. And the absence of lumps reduces the risk of having cracked shells once baked.
- Place the saucepan on the stove again (at medium heat) and mix energetically to dry the dough and evaporate the excess moist. This step should take approx. 1 to 2 minutes (depending on the flour).Take your time at this stage but don't overheat the dough otherwise the butter will split from the dough and it won't have the right texture.
- The dough is ready when it pulls away very cleanly from the sides of the pan, and either it forms a thin film at the bottom of your stainless steel saucepan OR small oil droplets at the bottom of your non-stick saucepan. The ideal temperature should be around 78°C.
- Transfer the dough into the bowl of the stand mixer equipped with the flat beater. Mix at low speed for 1 minute to cool it down and avoid cooking the eggs while adding them. The temperature should be just below 45°C. Do not over-work the dough, and use the lowest speed, otherwise the butter will split from the dough, and it will look oily and won't have the right texture.
- Add the eggs a little at a time (4 to 5 times) and mix (at low speed) after each addition. You can start by adding the 1/3 of the eggs, then the second 1/3. and make sure the eggs are combined properly at each step, but do not over-agitate the dough.
- Then add the rest of the eggs little by little until getting the right texture. It's important NOT to add all the eggs at the same time, because the quantity required depends on many factors such as the flour (and its capacity to absorb moisture), how much water evaportated during the cooking step...
- The dough is ready when it becomes smooth and glossy and it holds its shape.
- You can do the V-test to ensure you have the right texture: stir the dough a little with the spatula and slowly lift it. The dough should form a V shape at the end of the spatula.
- You can also do the finger test: drag your finger along the surface of the dough to draw a straight line. The sides of this trough should stay upright and not collapse into the dough.
- Prepare the piping bag with the French star tip. Push the bottom of the bag towards the tip to close the whole and avoid the dough from spilling.
- Transfer the dough in the piping bag. If you don't have a stand to hold your piping bag you can DIY by cutting out a plastic bottle.
- Make sure there are no air bubbles trapped in the bag before starting piping by squeezing the bag and pushing the dough towards the tip.
- Pipe 10 to 12cm long eclairs on the Silpat mat, at an 45° angle with a constant pressure. Make sure to leave 5cm gap in between. I place the dough scraper and pipe each eclair right next to it to make sure they all have the same size. You can use a damp finger to pat down the pointed ends of your eclairs.
- I do not recommended to use parchment paper otherwise the eclairs will not have a flat and neat base, as the paper will be distorted under the dough and the heat will not be conducted evenly.
- Bake the eclairs as soon as you pipe them. There are various techniques, this is the one that works best for me. The goal is to have smooth shells (almost) without cracks, and to have them puff vertically rather than horizontally.
- SWITCH OFF the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Switch on the oven at 170°C on STATIC mode (without opening the door) and continue baking for 15 minutes. This static mode diffuses the heat vertically (while the fan mode diffuses it evenly in all the directions), which allows the eclairs not to puff too much on the sides and have a neat shape.
- Open slightly the door of the oven (you can place a thin spoon to block it) and continue baking for 15 minutes. You may need more time depending on the size of your eclairs, your oven and how much you opened its door.
- The eclairs are done when they have a nice dark golden color. If you don't bake them enough they will collapse once out of the oven.
- Let them cool on a cooling rack.
In general I do not use craquelin on eclairs, because in general it allows the dough to puff too much. But if I do, I use a very thin one.
To fill the eclairs, you can either cut them horizontally and pipe the cream/crémeux… or make holes at the back using a 3 or 4mm tip. Here is an example using the second option. Make sure to remove the excess cream once you fill your eclairs, otherwise their base will be soaked with cream and will not be crispy anymore.
Make 2 holes at the back of the eclair.
Fill it with the cream using a piping bag with 4mm round tip.
Remove the excess cream by pressing the bottom of the eclair against the edge of a bowl.
The base of the eclair once clean.
If you wish to decorate your eclairs, here are some options:
– tempered chocolate that you cut out to the size of your eclairs
– fondant pâtissier (which is different from the fondant to be rolled out), to be used at 37°C
– chocolate glaze (like a ganache)
– caramel (prepared without water, only by melting sugar)
The technique of glazing the eclairs is the same whatever option you choose, here is an example with fondant:
Dip the eclair in the melted fondant (around 37/38°C) and turn the eclair gently side to side to get an even coating.
Hold the eclair vertically to allow the excess fondant to drip down.
Finish cleaning the edges with your fingers, and make sure the coating is thin.
In order to avoid having soggy eclairs I recommend to:
– bake them until they become really golden brown, so that the shell is crispy enough and will not become too soft once filled,
– fill them just before consuming them, the taste will be much better than filling them hours earlier and refrigerate them (unlike professional fridges, the humidity rate in domestic fridges is in general not controlled and is quite high).