I was invited by Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School to try one of their classes, and the choice was easy for me. I've attempted choux pastry a number of times and despite reading up on tips, trying different recipes, watching online videos, I just couldn't make them right. They were always under-developed and didn't puff up and were a soggy mess. It was so frustrating that I stopped making them, despite choux pastry being one of my favourite things to eat. So I picked the Choux Pastry Class to attend.
This particular choux pastry class runs for one full day. I thought it might be a bit of fun and giggles but let me assure you, it's fun and giggles amongst much serious baking. You start the day quite early and then really get cracking to make so many different types of choux pastries, cream fillings and decorations. By the end of the day, you'll get something that looks like the amazing eclair below.
The cooking takes place in a very large industrial kitchen with every piece of equipment you could want. We got divided into teams to work at each bench and given an introduction by the trainer as to what we will be doing for the day. My trainer for the day was Paul Kennedy, who besides having a wonderful accent and being the prince of bad jokes, was definitely very skilful with all aspects of choux pastry making. Just look at his piping of the eclairs below. He made it seem effortless. Later I would find it's not as easy as it looks. Throughout the day we would be left alone to make things and then called together to watch and learn another new element to which we would attempt. It was a great teaching method and you could ask questions to Paul if you didn't understand anything or wanted to know more about the science of baking.
With any choux pastry, it needs a filling, and fillings we made. We made chantilly creams, diplomat creams, creme patissieres, salted caramel buttercreams, chocolate buttercreams and white chocolate buttercreams. I learned to make so many amazing fillings and have used nearly all of them since in my cakes and desserts.
The part that was most fun was after we made all the elements of the pastries, we got to assemble and decorate. Paul gave us samples of what we should aim for, but ours never quite looked the same. His interpreted Paris Brest and Religieuse were stunning, so perfectly piped and decorated. Ours, well, they tasted good. Some of us, maybe me, also got a bit silly and did some crazy piping to which Paul said were an atrocity to choux pastry. Surely a triple layer Religieuse is just being inventive and taking it to the next level *boom boom, get it*. Ok I'm the prince of bad jokes too.
So, these were the final results. Not too bad I say. We made three types of profiteroles and three types of eclairs. They all had a mix and match of fillings and decorations. The profiteroles had fillings of salted caramel buttercream, chocolate buttercream and chantilly cream. The crust on the profiteroles is a croustillant, which is crunchy and really tasty. All the profiteroles tasted amazing and so crispy in texture. This choux pastry recipe is seriously one of the best I've tasted.
The eclairs were even more stunning than the profiteroles due to some bling in the form of gold nuts and chocolate transfers. We learned to make the chocolate transfers and they do look do-able at home but I've yet to try. Tempering chocolate is a whole other skill which I'll attempt in the future. The eclairs contained the creme patisserie, diplomat cream and chocolate buttercream. Again everything was super delicious. My favourite out of all the pastries is actually the super classical chocolate eclair with a creme patisserie.
Like I said, the classes are actually fun but also really informative and people take it seriously. Everyone is there to learn for one reason or another. Some people are just home bakers like myself, some aspire to be pastry chefs and some are already pastry chefs who want to brush up their skills. Everyone paid close attention on the day I was there and took lots of notes, as accuracy is the key for pastry. You get given the recipes in a booklet on the day but unfortunately I can't share that with you here. You can easily Google lots of recipes anyway. Instead, the class is most useful for the techniques, where you can watch what needs to be done, learn the consistency things need to be at, and know when something is ready, or wrong, and how to fix mistakes. I've taken the skills I learned from that day and have utilised it already, making lots of choux pastries. I've replicated the recipes perfectly and even experimented with different flavours of my own. Durian profiteroles anyone?
For the class, you don't need to bring anything except your enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Lunch is provided on the day and all the equipment you'll need is at the school. Obviously you get to sample everything throughout the class (just don't let the trainer see you pigging out too much) and you get to take home everything you make, which in my case was four massive boxes of choux pastries that I ate for a week and gave out to everyone. I highly recommend you take this choux class, or in fact any of the other Savour School classes. I'm already eyeing off the gateaux class next. I might even see you there.
I attended the Savour School class courtesy of Savour School.