Mary’s Religieuses

also known as miniature nuns is a technical challenge from the Great British Bake Off Everyday recipe book.  I baked these last weekend for a family tea.

This was the first time I’ve ever made choux pastry and this went rather well.  Quite often, my baking lacks something in presentation, but usually makes up for it in taste, however this time I was sure it was going to be the opposite as I had issues with the crème patisserie in that it was so lumpy I had to sieve it!!

I also think the recipe advises you to use too much chocolate, after decorating the Religieuses there was half a cereal sized bowl left over and they had been generously covered.

What you need:

You will need 1 large baking sheet, or 2 medium ones, lined with baking paper

For the choux pastry
60g unsalted butter, cubedIMG_2162
150ml water
75g plain flour
2 medium eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten

For the crème patissiere filling
500ml full-fat milk
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
6 medium egg yolks, at room temperature
75g caster sugar
20g cornflour
25g plain flour

For the chocolate ganache
150ml double cream
200g dark chocolate (about 36% cocoa solids), broken into pieces

For the collar
150ml double cream, well chilled

What you do:

Prep – heat your oven to 220°c.  Draw eight 5cm circles and eight 2.5cm circles on the paper lining the baking sheet

Make the choux pastry – put the butter and water into a heavy pan and heat over a medium heat until the butter has completely melted, then bring the mixture to the boil, taking care not to burn the butter. Remove from the heat and tip in the flour.   *note, at this point it looks like slop and you’ll think it’s all gone wrong…just keep stirring and then it just happens!

Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a soft ball. Set the pan back on low heat and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly, to dry out the dough.

From this >> to this!

From this >> to this!

Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition, to make a smooth, shiny paste.

Spoon the choux dough into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm plain tube. Pipe discs inside the drawn circles on the baking sheet. Dip your finger in water and gently smooth the top of each disc. Place in the heated oven and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 190°c and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until a good golden brown.

For once, my piping went rather well 🙂

choux buns

Remove the buns from the oven and pierce each one to allow the steam to escape. Return the choux buns to the oven and bake for 4-5 minutes so they dry out. Transfer the buns to a wire rack and leave to cool.

Make the crème patissiere. Pour the milk into a heavy-based medium pan. Using the tip of a small knife, scrape out the vanilla seeds from the split pod and add to the milk. Slowly bring to the boil, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside. Put the egg yolks and sugar into a heatproof mixing bowl and whisk together until pale, then add the cornflour and flour and whisk in. Continue to whisk as you pour on the hot milk in a thin steady stream. Pour the mixture back into the pan. Set over medium heat and bring to the boil, whisking constantly.

*I don’t know what happened here but my custard was horribly lumpy and I had to sieve it to make it usable

What you don't want!

What you don’t want!

Cook for 1 minute until smooth and thick. Pour into a bowl and cover the surface of the crème patissiere with clingfilm (this prevents a skin from forming). Leave to cool, then chill

Make the chocolate ganache by bringing the cream to the boil in a small pan, then remove from the heat. Add the pieces of chocolate and stir until melted and the mixture is smooth and shiny. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool, then cover and chill until the ganache has a thick coating consistency.

Assemble the religieuses by spooning the crème patissiere into a piping bag fitted with a long thin tube ( or use a jam or icing syringe) and fill the choux buns through the ‘steam hole’ made earlier.  It’s a good idea if the custard is quite thick otherwise it’ll just run out the holes when you fix together later…mine went everywhere!

This is a really messy bit >> dip the tops of the filled buns into the chocolate ganache to coat them halfway up the sides. Set a small bun on top of each large bun.

choux buns

Whip the cream until it will stand in peaks. Spoon into the clean piping bag fitted with a star tube. Pipe a line of cream around the join where the two buns meet to form a white collar. Serve as soon as possible after assembling.

choux buns

Despite my previous worries, these actually were rather delicious and the family loved them.  In all honesty, they’re a faff and I’m not entirely convinced that spending 2-3 hours doing this for 9 buns was really worthwhile when you can pick up a pack of 12 profiteroles in Sainsbury’s* for a quid!

*other supermarkets are available 😉

Mary's Religieuses

Until next time…Happy Baking!

13 Comments

  1. 22nd May 2016 / 10:08 am

    These look amazing!! I haven’t made choux pastry since the sixth form when I made chocolate eclairs for a Food and Nutrition exam! But I love it and we had profitaroles for our wedding dessert as they are my favourite 😃

    • 22nd May 2016 / 6:26 pm

      Thank you! I’d never made choux before and if I’m honest I’m not in a massive rush to have another go lol…they are delicious though 🙂

  2. 22nd May 2016 / 12:15 pm

    They turned out really well in the end! 🙂 I think you’re right about the faff though. I think I’d just stick to making regular choux buns and plonking a jug a cream and another of melted chocolate on the table and telling people to sort themselves! 🙂

    • 22nd May 2016 / 6:26 pm

      Yeah that’s probably the best way to go but at least I had success with my piping this time 🙂

  3. 22nd May 2016 / 4:12 pm

    I think they look great! I understand the time factor, but perhaps it helps us appreciate the work that goes into these baked goods. No Sainsbury’s in Canada! 🙁

    • 22nd May 2016 / 6:27 pm

      Thank you! Yeah absolutely…but it took me about 2.5 – 3 hours to make 9..I’d be out of business 😉

  4. 22nd May 2016 / 5:14 pm

    Ah maybe but you learnt something 🙂 I admire you for trying and I think they always look gorgeous and I wouldn’t say no Lindsay!

    • 22nd May 2016 / 6:28 pm

      Well they were very nice and I’m glad I had a go…another method ticked off the list 🙂

  5. 22nd May 2016 / 6:44 pm

    I remember seeing these on one of the technical challenges on Bake Off and thinking who in their right mind would make these! And now I know !! As if choux pastry wasn’t fiddly enough. They did, however, look delicious on the programme and your end result looks magnificent. If this was your first go at choux pastry then huge congratulations! If things haven’t gone wrong for me before it is always the piping that lets me down. Your piping looks great!

    • 22nd May 2016 / 7:36 pm

      Thank you! I am a total beginner where piping is concerned but it all went remarkably well this time 🙂

  6. 22nd May 2016 / 7:00 pm

    They look delicious 😍

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