Choux pastry is a dream to eat, crisp and golden on the outside whilst light and airy on the outside. These miniature buns contain a layer of tart rhubarb, with creamy vanilla custard piped on top. This flavour combination is my all-time favourite; I could eat it until it came out of my ears, and I’m always so sad when rhubarb disappears from the shops. Rhubarb is a plant I’ve always wanted to grow in my own garden, but based on my recent efforts at cultivating kale I will be giving up on this idea for a while.
For the pastry
50g unsalted butter
80ml whole-fat milk
130g plain flour
For the custard
4 egg yolks
200ml double cream
60g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
For the rhubarb compote
~ 3 sticks of rhubarb
~ 60g caster sugar
4 tablespoons water
- Firstly, make the custard. Custard is great fun to make, although it can be a little temperamental. Whisk the 4 egg yolks in a bowl with the sugar, being sure to get a loose, bubbly mixture.
- Pour 200ml of double cream into a saucepan, along with a split vanilla pod, and heat over moderate heat until scalding. As the cream heats, the vanilla should infuse out of the pod and into the mix.
- Once the cream is almost boiling, pour half into the whisked egg and sugar and whisk furiously. Then pour back into the remaining half of cream and return to the heat. Continue to stir slowly as the custard thickens, being careful not to let the mixture boil. You will know the custard is ready when you can dip a clean spoon in and a thin coat of custard will remain on the back once removed, without slipping off.
- Spoon out the vanilla pod and leave to cool slightly. Once at room temperature, cover, and place in the fridge until ready.
- Preheat the oven to 180•C. Wash and trim the ends of the rhubarb. Chop into slices and place in a roasting tray along with ~4 tablespoons water. Sprinkle with the sugar then cook for ~30 minutes. This will bring out the tangtastic flavour of the rhubarb.
- To make the choux, mix the water and milk together. Place in a pan over a relatively high heat. Add in the butter and allow it to melt as your stir.
- This is where you need to roll your sleeves up and get ready for a workout. Once the mixture is almost boiling tip in the flour and beat the mix hard until a dough forms. Keep the pan over the heat during this stage. Once the dough forms, keep breaking it up and beating further. This is a really important stage as this is what creates the puff in the choux pastry. You ideally want to be beating for about 5 minutes.
- Leave to cool to room temperature.
- Once cool, beat in the 2 eggs until smooth and shiny. Now your choux pastry is ready to go. Pre-heat the oven to 220•C.
- On a sheet of baking parchment, draw out some circles for piping your choux pastry. I used a cookie cutter for my template. The buns will grow so use a slightly smaller guide than you are aiming for and leave space between them.
- Fill your piping bag with pastry and pipe out in the circle. They should be about 1.5-2cm high.
- Bake at 220•C for 15 minutes, and then at 160•C for a further 20 minutes. Don’t open the oven as this will disrupt the rise.
- Once baked, leave to cool. Use a serrated knife to chop in half then full with some rhubarb and a generous amount of custard.