29 January 2017



For 8 eclairs and a few cream puffs:

Pastry cream:
1 large whole egg
2 large egg yolks
1 t kosher salt (or 1/2 t table salt)
1/2 c granulated white sugar
1/4 c corn starch
2 c whole milk
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
4 T cold, unsalted butter, cubed

You will have some pastry cream left over after filling the above 8+ eclairs.

Pate a choux:

1/2 c water
1 t sugar
4 T unsalted butter
pinch salt
1/2 c flour
2 eggs
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Chocolate ganache:
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 - 4 T heavy cream


Make the pastry cream first:

Mix the eggs, salt, sugar and corn starch in a bowl.
Heat the milk and scraped vanilla bean seeds to scalding in a pot.
Pour about 1/2 c of the milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking vigorously.
Pour the egg mixture back into the pot with the rest of the milk and heat on low, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens.
Remove from heat and add the butter cubes, mixing constantly until the butter disappears.
Pour the pastry cream into a bowl, press plastic wrap onto the surface, and chill for at least 2 hours.

In the meantime, make the pate a choux eclair shells:

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

Heat the water, butter, sugar and salt in a pot until the butter melts.
Add the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture comes together to form a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pot.
Place the dough in a bowl and stir for a minute to cool.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until thoroughly blended into the dough.
Put the dough into a piping bag fitted with a star (or many-pointed) tip, and pipe 4-5 inch wands of dough onto a parchment paper covered baking sheet.
Dust lightly with powdered sugar (I omitted this step).
Bake in an oven preheated to 350F for 40 minutes, propping the oven door open with a wooden spoon after 10 minutes, to allow steam to escape.
Once the 40 minutes have elapsed, turn off the oven.
Pierce each end of the eclairs with a skewer to allow steam to escape, and let the eclairs cool inside the propped-open oven.

Fill the eclairs:

Make 2 holes in the underside of each eclair with the tip you'll be filling them with, each about 1/4 of the eclair's length from the ends.
Briefly whisk the pastry cream to get rid of any lumps, and place it in a pastry bag fitted with the above tip.
Pipe the pastry cream into the eclairs, making sure the cream reaches each end.
Clean up any cream that is protruding from the holes with a butter knife.

Make the ganache:

Heat the cream to scalding in a pot, and pour over the chocolate.  
Let it sit for 5 minutes, then whisk vigorously to combine.
Spoon, pour or pipe the ganache over the eclairs.

Chill for an hour, and enjoy!

28 January 2017



500g flour
6-8g diastatic malt
30g softened butter or schmalz
10g table salt
7g dry yeast or 21g fresh yeast
275ml ice cold water

1/4c baking soda, dissolved in 4c (1qt) just-boiled water.  Stand back when mixing.
Coarse salt


Mix the dry ingredients, then add in the butter and water.
Knead for 10 minutes.
Rest the dough for 5 minutes, covered in plastic wrap.
Separate into 10 80g pieces
Roll each piece into a "cigar", rest 10 minutes, covered.
Shape into pretzels.
Freeze or refrigerate uncovered for 30 minutes, to firm and form a skin.
Dip pretzels for 1 minute in the baking soda solution.
Slash bellies of pretzels (deeply), sprinkle with salt and let air-dry.
Bake at 425F for 13-15 minutes, rotating halfway through.

Ingredients and methodology from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4oCx-JRFgE

Next time try it with lye (food grade):
Wear latex gloves (or longer dishwashing gloves), long sleeves, closed shoes, an apron and goggles.  
Place 4c (1qt) cold water in a glass or plastic bowl.  
Mix 1/4c lye into the water carefully (without splashing) until dissolved.
Dip prezels for about 10 seconds per side and place on baking sheets.  Then continue as above.

(from Smitten Kitchen https://smittenkitchen.com/2014/05/soft-pretzel-buns-and-knots/)

29 September 2011

27 September 2011

24 September 2011

Style Principles, No. 1: Feminine Details

I've been thinking about the details that set my favorites of the clothes I've made apart from ones that don't feel "right."  Consider this the first in a series of my style principles, illustrated.

When I think of my ideal style, it's very unembellished--very austere and 90s minimalist.  My style reality has a lot more frills and ruffles, but when I sew my own clothes, I try to make the embellishment count.

I love lace and piping inserted into seams, fullness from bias cowls at the neck or armscye, and godets inset into sleeves and skirts.  Soft pleats are a restrained alternative to ruffles, if the latter makes you feel like a cupcake (, if that's a bad thing). 

If you don't mind looking like a cupcake: Katherine Hepburn as Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story

When sewing my own clothes, I try to learn something new every garment (makes for slow sewing, but also rewarding).  I've got my eye on the following techniques for the feminine details in my fall sewing:

Padded trapunto or channel stitching, in a waistband, a collar, or around the hem of a skirt;
Kimono sleeves with gussets, with a cowl neck--this looks so sleek and seamless;
Double-needle pintucks down the front of a cotton batiste blouse;
Some kind of ruffles, using my new-to-me ruffle foot;
Long sleeves cut on the bias.

22 September 2011


Looking through old notebooks, found a page I wanted to share.