These delicious eclairs are a light yet decadent summer treat – the vanilla Chantilly with thyme and fresh strawberries are bright and flavourful and perfect for a garden party or special occasion.
This is a great challenge for experienced bakers; choux pastry is notoriously difficult – just watch the Great British Bake Off for evidence of that – but also a satisfying project that’s as much about baking as it is presentation.
For a professional finish, pipe the eclairs carefully onto your baking sheet, as imperfections will bake into place.
Prep time: 25 minutes Cook time: 45 minutes
For the crunchy topping
- 75g caster sugar
- 75g plain flour
- 60g unsalted butter
For the choux pastry
- 60g unsalted butter
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 60ml whole milk
- 60ml water
- 40g plain flour
- 45g strong white bread flour
- 2-3 large eggs, beaten
For the filling
- 400g strawberries
- 2 sprigs of lemon thyme
- 2 tbsp. caster sugar
- 600ml double cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
What to do
- To make the crunchy topping for the eclairs mix together the sugar and the flour, add the butter and rub together until it starts to form a dough. Use your hand to press together into a uniform dough. Place between two sheets of parchment and roll out until it is about 2mm thick. Place onto a baking tray and freeze until needed.
- To make the choux pastry place the butter, sugar, salt, milk and water into a medium sized saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Once at temperature pour in both of the flours and immediately mix together with a wooden spoon, until it forms into a ball of dough and there is a dry layer on the base of the pan. Tip the pastry into a large bowl and set aside for 5 minutes.
- Add the eggs a little at a time beating until combined before adding more. Add enough egg until the pastry is thick, glossy and has reached dropping consistency. Place the pastry into a piping bag fitted with a plain round piping tip (roughly 1cm wide).
- Line two baking trays with parchment paper and draw ten 12cm lines onto the back of the parchment, 6 per sheet. Pipe the choux pastry into eclairs, using the lines as guides. Remove the crunchy topping from the freezer and cut into strips 12cmx1.5cm and place one of top of each eclair (this gives the eclairs a crunchy topping but also helps give a uniform shape, making them look more professional).
- Bake in the oven at 180c (160c fan) for about 30-35 minutes or until the choux is golden brown. Set aside until cooled.
- To make the filling hull 300g of the strawberries and cut into small dice. Mix together with 1 tbsp. of the sugar and the thyme. Set aside for an hour or so to macerate.
- Place the cream, vanilla and remaining sugar into a large bowl and whisk until the mixture holds soft peaks.
- Cut the eclairs through the middle and fill the base of each eclair with the strawberries (leaving the juice in the bowl).
- Place the cream into a piping bag and pipe the cream on top of the strawberries. Hull the remaining strawberries and cut into quarters, pressing into the sides of the cream as decoration. Top with the eclair lids and dust with a little icing sugar.
- Once filled the eclairs are best served within a couple hours of assembling but the baked eclairs can be prepared a day ahead.
Recipe courtesy of BerryWorld