You might know by now that lemon is one of my ultimate favourite flavours – I especially enjoy a lemon meringue pie with the pastry, the lemony-goodness and cloud-like meringue all combined. Heaven on a plate. I felt like taking the classic Éclair and putting a bit of a fun twist on it. The result is a stunning, citrusy Éclair perfect with a cup of tea on a Sunday afternoon.
Yields: Approx. 8
80g plain flour – sifted
75g butter – unsalted and cubed
150g free-range eggs
pinch of icing sugar, optional.
pinch of salt
250ml whole milk
4 x egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp plain flour
zest of two lemons
tsp lemon extract
4 x egg whites
2 x tbsp caster sugar
Either store-bought or made beforehand using this recipe: Lemon Curd
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Choux pastry is one of my favourite pastries. Versitile, tasty and best of all you need little quantity of few ingredients – making it super simple.
Pour the cold water and milk into a medium sized pan and throw in the butter. Place on a medium heat and let it come to a simmer while the butter melts. You don’t want to let it boil for too long as the water will begin the evaporate which you don’t want.
Next, throw in all the flour – all in one go! Remove the pan from the heat and stir vigourously with a wooden spoon until the mixture is combined and forms a ball that has come away from the sides. Place back on the heat for a couple of m,inutes and continue to stir to cook the flour slightly. After that, you should have a ball of smooth, glossy dough. Place into a bowl and leave to cool slightly.
Whisk the eggs together. You want a weight of 150g which is probably close to 3 medium eggs. You’ll probably want all of this mixture but it’s best to add the eggs bit by bit so you don’t add too much and makwe the mixture too sloppy. So bit by bit add the eggs to the dough – you want to fully combine the eggs each time and you’ll notice the dough come together. The consistency you’re looking for is a smooth paste that drops off the spoon when shaken gently.
Transfer to a piping bag that is fit with a 1cm nozzle. Pipe a blob on each corner of a baking sheet to help stick down the baking paper. Then pipe the dough onto the baking paper – about 2.5cm in width and 10cm in length. Keep a 2” gap between each éclair.
Finally, sieve over the icing sugar. This helps brown the éclair without the trickery of egg wash – egg wash often prevents the choux pastry from rising properly.
Place into the oven for 40 minutes, but keep an eye out for the last 5 minutes.
Next, get onto making the custard. We’ve done this before, right? Pour the milk into a pan along with the lemon zest and essence. Get this mixture to a simmer. While that is heating, whisk four egg yolks together with the sugar, flour and cornflour. The mixture should be pale, so whisk for a few minutes.
When the milk is bubbling, pour a small amount into the egg mixture – whisk as you do. This will stop the rest of the milk from cooking the eggs. Pour the rest of the milk into the mixture – slowly, though and whisking constantly. Now you want to transfer it back to the pan. Pour the mixture through a sieve so you’re left with a silky smooth custard. Place back on a low heat and stir with a wooden spoon continuously. The mixture will thicken, eventually. Transfer to a bowl and place a sheet of cling film over the top, pressing it down so it sits on the custard to prevent a film from forming. Leave to cool completely.
Once the Éclairs are done, remove from the oven and prick the bottom of them to let the steam escape – this stops them from becoming soggy so it’s a crutial step. Leave to cool completely.
Once everything is cool, transfer the custard to a piping bag fit with a very small nozzle. Poke the nozzle into one end of the Éclair and fill each one until it starts to spill out the end.
In a bowl, use an electric whisk to whisk the egg whites until they’re frothy on top. Pour in the sugar and continue to whisk until you’ve got a glossy, smooth meringue with stiff peaks.
Just before piping the meringue recipe, spread the lemon curd on the top of each Éclair . You can use either store-bought or use my recipe: Lemon Curd.
Transfer the meringue to a piping bag and slowly pipe a blob from one end of the Éclair to the other. I find this works best when you pipe from directly above, applying very little pressure. Once you’ve piped on all the Éclairs you can either place then under the grill until the meringue starts to brown or if you have a blowtorch then I find this the easiest method – and the most fun. Once done, zest a lemon for extra citrus punch and enjoy!