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I quickly found out when I started dating my husband, that he had a soft spot for éclairs. Naturally, I used it to my advantage and would order 30 mini éclairs from a local bakery whenever he would come visit me from abroad. At the time, I was still too shy to show him just how many desserts I could actually eat in one go. But he’d just open the box every now and then and before we knew it, they would all be gone.
I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who didn’t like éclairs. Especially nowadays, when there are so many incredible options for customizing an éclair. You can select the flavor or color you like the most. But even the texture, by adding a crunchy craquelin layer.
What Is An Eclair?
An éclair is made of choux pastry piped into an oblong shape. The sky is the limit when it comes to the éclair flavor profile. For a traditional éclair, fill it with pastry cream and cover it with chocolate glaze or fondant. Are you a caramel lover? Well then, how about salted caramel éclairs (yes, please!). Fruity fillings such as lemon or raspberry can transform your choux pastry into such colorful and bright desserts, that are too pretty to eat!
I strongly encourage you to get comfortable piping choux before you attempt piping éclairs. Choux are much more forgiving and will not show all their flaws as easily as éclairs will. If you are wondering what flaws I am talking about, don’t worry, I have tons of pictures for you! Yes, I’ve tried making éclairs so many times!
Piping éclairs is not quite the same as piping cream puffs. First off, it’s harder! And secondly, while you pipe cream puffs at a 90° angle, éclairs should be piped at a 45° angle. Use your left hand as a support to hold the bag (if you are right-handed) and your right hand to exert pressure on the piping bag.
Start piping and move in a straight line. When you are happy with the length of the éclair, stop applying pressure and bring the piping tip down, along the end of the éclair towards the baking sheet so that it sticks to it. Try to lift the piping bag quickly to avoid getting a peak. But don’t worry too much if you get one, you can always press it down with some egg wash.
By position, I’m actually talking about two things: the position of your piping bag and the position of your body.
Some people suggest piping straight onto the parchment paper. So your piping tip is constantly touching the paper while you are piping. Others recommend piping about 1cm (approximately 1/2 inch) above the pan, and letting the “log” of dough gently drop onto the paper. I’ve tried both methods and haven’t found any significant differences.
Piping straight onto the paper did produce slightly flatter and wider logs but it was hard to tell the difference once they were baked. Piping straight onto the paper is slightly easier to do, especially if you are not used to piping, since you can use the surface as a support. No shaky hands in the air!
Next up, the position of your body! This is also quite personal I have found. I’ve seen chefs pipe towards them, so top to bottom, diagonally. And I’ve seen others pipe from left to right in straight lines. I personally prefer piping left to right. I feel like I have more control over my hands if my hands stay at the same level and just move from one direction to another. When I pipe from top to bottom, I tend to want to readjust my body or hands and change the pressure while piping.
Height of baking sheet and table
Another thing to pay attention to is the height of your baking sheet. You probably won’t have this issue, but when I was testing out éclairs, I ran out of baking sheets and used my oven sheet which has high edges. Well, it was incredibly hard to pipe at a 45° angle since I couldn’t lower my hands.
The height of the table will also affect the ease with which you pipe. If it’s too high for you, it will be harder for you to control your movement so try to put your baking sheet at a comfortable level.
Securing your parchment paper and baking sheet
Have you ever tried to pipe but your parchment paper kept sliding? To avoid that, you can put a little bit of choux pastry between your parchment paper and your baking sheet and it will stick.
I personally have more of an issue with a rotating baking sheet. This might sound strange to some of you but if I pipe on light baking sheets, they will just start turning. To stop this, you can put a towel under it or an oven mitt.
Ideally you want to use a large star tip with a lot of teeth. This will allow the éclair to expand without cracking. I use Wilton 4B. If you don’t have something similar, you can just use a wide round tip and using a fork dipped in egg wash, gently draw lines on the eclair. Don’t press too much!
Removing air bubbles
It took me a while to figure out how to do this and also how important it actually is. I kept thinking I could just skip it but had to finally learn how to do it when my choux and éclairs had holes and bumps in them. We went through this when discussing choux pastry but I’ll quickly remind you again how to do it.
- Place your piping bag filled with choux pastry on a flat surface.
- Flatten the choux pastry as much as possible with your hand, being careful not to press it towards the piping tip. Ideally, you should have twisted your piping bag close to the tip so the choux pastry doesn’t come out. My piping bag is too small so I couldn’t do that.
- Using a pastry scraper or a spatula, start pushing all the choux pastry towards the piping tip until it is all collected in one place.
- Twist the top of the piping bag to close it and pipe a little bit into a bowl to get rid of any air bubble that might be left close to the piping tip.
- You are now ready to pipe, bubble-free!
My piping was completely random! I put uneven pressure on the piping bag so my éclairs were sometimes wide then suddenly narrow. Well, there were so many mistakes that all I could do was spoon everything back into a piping bag and try again! And that’s ok! Do it as many times as you need.
If you are just starting out, I strongly recommend using a template .
I know it may not look like it, but I was actually trying to pipe the bottom éclairs in a straight line!! I was so focused on piping each individual éclair, that I ended up piping in a completely random direction!
So what templates can you use? Well, you can simply draw lines on the back of your parchment paper, about 12cm (4 3/4 inches) each. Make sure to stagger them and keep some space between the lines (about 5cm/2 inches) as the éclairs will puff up (fingers crossed!).
But if you are a complete beginner, you probably won’t know how much pressure to apply and you might end up with very thin éclairs, or very wide ones. I found that using rectangles as a guideline was much easier to understand. The width should be about 2.5cm (1 inch) while the length should be about 12cm (4 3/4 inches).
If you pipe very long éclairs, you will have trouble dipping them in chocolate glaze and filling them. Not to mention that they will be harder to hold while eating!
Perforated silicone mat
If you are completely obsessed with choux pastry like I am, then you can buy a perforated silicone mat with an éclair template on one side and a choux template on the other side! I was so excited when I found this! I was actually just looking for a normal perforated silicone mat for my tarts (and choux pastry) and came across this. It’s not very easy to clean what gets stuck in the holes though. I’ll let you know when I figure out how to do that!
Freezing piped éclairs
One technique which I discovered recently is to pipe logs of éclairs on a piece of parchment paper and freezing them. Once they are completely frozen, you can cut off the éclairs in the same size and you’ll get nicely shaped éclairs. If you really want them to be the same size though, use a ruler. Don’t eyeball it like I did in the pictures below!
Pros of this technique
- Their shape is quite nice and uniform and you can cut off the uneven parts like the edges of the logs.
- You’ll be able to bake éclairs whenever you feel like it. All you need to do is pull the logs out of the freezer, cut them in individual pieces and let them warm up at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking them.
Cons of this technique
- There is a bit of wastage with this technique since you cut off the parts you don’t like. You could probably just put the leftover pieces in a piping bag and just pipe them again once the choux pastry is warm. Or just spoon them onto the parchment paper because, let’s be honest, who wants to use another piping bag for the leftovers?
- If you are not very good at piping, then it might be hard to pipe long logs that you can cut. I usually start going in random directions after a few seconds and end up with a crooked log. I’m much more at ease piping individual éclairs.
But no matter what size or shape you want to pipe, the bottom line is you can actually prepare the éclairs in advance and just freeze them. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the different stages of éclair preparation when you are just starting out: baking, filling, glazing. Freezing them is very practical if you don’t have much free time.
To freeze them: Simply pipe the éclairs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about an hour or until the piped éclairs are frozen. Transfer the éclairs to a zip-lock bag and freeze for up to a month. To bake, simply thaw them at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Be sure to check out my post on “How to make choux pastry” for an in-depth troubleshooting section. I won’t mention everything again here but we’ll go through some of the issues you could have when making éclairs.
If your choux pastry was runny when you were piping and the éclairs are completely flat and impossible to fill, you probably added too many eggs. Solution: Just because you can’t fill them doesn’t mean they can’t be really tasty. Cut them up into small pieces and place them in an ice-cream bowl. Top with pastry cream or ice-cream and drizzle with chocolate sauce. Innovation is what we’ll call it, not failure!
Eclairs have a cracked surface
This could happen if you haven’t added enough eggs in the dough and it is too dry. It will start cracking. Another factor could be the oven setting. If the temperature is too high, the surface of the éclair will set while the steam inside the éclair is still pushing to expand it. As a result, the surface will crack.
Eclairs have an uneven surface or bumps
This could be caused by air bubbles in the piping bag. I clearly recall piping the éclair shown above. When I was piping, I got air bubbles in two spots and as a result, the dough suddenly splattered out afterwards causing the bumps you can see. I didn’t notice a big irregularity before baking the éclair but you can clearly see the flaws now. Solution: Make sure you get rid of all the air bubbles from the piping bag next time (see “Removing air bubbles” section).
The bottom of your éclairs rose, creating an inward curve. As a result, you have practically no space left for the filling. This one is a bit more of a mystery to me but I’ll tell you what I noticed. I have found that this happens when the bottom of the éclair doesn’t have anything to hold on to or stick to while rising.
This happened to me when:
- I buttered my perforated silicone mat.
- Using a silicone mat with a slippery surface.
- My silicone mat was on an oven grill with wide gaps.
Solution: The bottom of the éclair should have some support while it is rising so don’t butter your mat and make sure you place the parchment paper/silicone mat on a baking sheet and not a grill with large gaps.
Eclairs are stuck to the mat
This could happen if the éclairs aren’t fully baked and dried out. Solution: Try baking a bit longer. If they are still stuck, slide an offset spatula under the éclairs to release them. Don’t pull the éclairs or you will end up with holes on the bottom of your éclair.
Filling For Eclairs
Hopefully, the tips were helpful and you managed to bake an amazing éclair shell. Time to fill it!
What filling to use
This is really where you can let your imagination run wild. If you like more traditional fillings, then vanilla pastry cream, chocolate pastry cream or lightened pastry cream are incredibly tasty options. But you can also go with salted caramel cream, or fruity fillings such as lemon curd lightened with some whipped cream.
How to fill éclairs
- Using a sharp knife, slit the éclair in 3 places: the middle and the sides.
- Insert the piping tip in the hole and fill until the éclair feels heavier and full. Repeat the same process in the other holes if needed.
- Wipe the excess filling with a clean finger.
Troubleshooting the filling process
Yes, another troubleshooting guide! I tend to make every possible mistake when baking so I always have to add that section!
The éclair cracks during filling: You’re too generous with your filling! Don’t fill it until it explodes but just until you feel some pressure.
The piping tip left big holes in the éclair: You are using the wrong piping tip. It should be quite small and not long or you will just pierce the éclair from the other side like I did. I initially used a long piping tip for filling choux and cupcakes, which was a disaster for éclairs. I thought I could bend it sideways to fill everything! Not my brightest idea!
When to fill éclairs
You can fill your éclairs once they have cooled down fully. But keep in mind that filled éclairs will get soggy so it’s best to do this step as late as possible to retain the crispiness of the éclair shell. You can prepare the éclair shells and the cream ahead of time and then assemble and glaze before serving.
Chocolate Glaze For Eclairs
A few things are important when coating éclairs with a chocolate glaze:
- The glaze must be runny enough so that you can easily dip your éclair into it.
- But thick enough that it doesn’t leak everywhere once you do. It should also actually cover the éclair and not be see-through which happens if the glaze is too thin.
- The glaze should also be shiny and not dull.
The two most common ingredients to make a chocolate glaze are chocolate and heavy cream. Some bakers will add butter or glucose syrup for shine. You can use any chocolate you like but you’ll have to adjust the amount of heavy cream used to get the right consistency. The darker the chocolate, the more heavy cream you’ll need. I love the intensity of dark chocolate but I add a little bit of icing sugar to please the sweet tooth crowd.
The recipe I’m using is actually for a tart filling. Since I want the chocolate to be slightly thicker and set faster than it does in a tart, I decreased the amount of heavy cream. So really, if you have a recipe you love, make a small portion and just play around with the amount of heavy cream until you get the result you are looking for. More cream will give you a runnier glaze while less cream will make it thicker.
But I’d be more than happy if you also tried out my version of a chocolate glaze.
Making the chocolate glaze
- Stir until combined. The chocolate will initially look grainy but don’t worry it’s normal!
- Add the remaining cream in two more additions and stir until fully combined. Try not to use a whisk or something that will incorporate air bubbles.
- Transfer to a wide bowl that will fit your éclairs and start dipping! Keep them upside down for a few seconds to get rid of any drips. If needed, use a clean finger to remove any excess chocolate from the éclairs.
Troubleshooting the chocolate glaze
Too thick: The glaze is hard to spread and you end up with an uneven surface. Solution: If the glaze was initially at the right consistency but thickened, warm it gently in a double-boiler. If it was too thick to begin with, add warm heavy cream, a little at a time, until you get to the desired consistency.
Too thin: The glaze leaks everywhere and doesn’t cover the éclair properly. Solution: Add more melted chocolate until the glaze is thick enough to hold on the éclair shell.
Chocolate glaze has air bubbles: If you used a whisk or an immersion blender which wasn’t fully immersed, you probably incorporated air bubbles. Solution: Try straining the glaze through a fine-mesh sieve. You could also try pressing some cling film on top of the glaze to get rid of the surface bubbles.
And there you have it! Time to make some éclairs! I covered everything I could think of based on my own failed attempts. I hope it will be useful to you. And I can’t wait to see some pictures of your amazing creations!
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Eclairs filled with lightened pastry cream that melts in your mouth, topped with a craquelin for a nice crunch and coated with chocolate glaze.
- Choux pastry: The quantities given are enough to make 11 éclairs of 12cm (4 3/4 inches).
- Chocolate craquelin: The craquelin softens very quickly. This is why it is separated into 2 balls. Half of it is kept refrigerated while working with the other batch. The craquelin should be enough for 11-12 éclairs. The craquelin is optional but strongly recommended. You can make the regular craquelin (without cocoa powder) if you prefer.
- Chocolate glaze: Using a sweeter chocolate will make the glaze more fluid so you will have to decrease the amount of heavy cream used (as well as the sugar since the chocolate will provide the sweetness). The glaze should be enough to cover at least 14 éclairs.
Everyone loves to pamper themselves, relatives and guests with delicious sweets. I propose a simple recipe for winners of audience sympathy – eclairs, which can be filled with a variety of sweet cream or salty filling.
How to bake eclairs?
- Step by step cooking
- Video recipe
Eclairs are exquisite descendants of profiteroles, and in our country they are better known as choux pastries. The author of the dessert is a French chef – Antonin Karem. Eclair is a small airy cake made from choux pastry. This airy dessert is simply created for temptation and only at the sight of it there is an unsurpassed appetite. It is not difficult to bake such a cake on your own at home, the main thing is to know certain culinary secrets.
The most important thing is that the blanks are airy and tender. To prepare choux pastry, you do not need a lot of products – you need to be careful and diligent. At the same time, the embodiment of the recipe will be within the power of even novice young housewives. The main thing to pay attention to is one thing – when baking eclairs, you should never open the door near the oven, otherwise the dough will settle, and then pancakes will turn out. And in all other respects, strictly adhere to the recipe, and then you will get mouth-watering and tender cakes.
- Caloric content per 100 g – 260 kcal.
- Servings – 20
- Cooking time – 1 hour 20 minutes
- Wheat flour – 200 g
- Drinking water – 100 ml
- Butter – 100 g
- Eggs – 2 pcs.
- Salt – a pinch
Butter in a saucepan
1. Cut the butter into pieces and place in a bowl, which is placed on a saucepan filled with water.
Butter melted in a water bath
2. Pour drinking water into the butter, add a pinch of salt and heat the food over medium-high heat in a steam bath, bringing them to a boil to obtain a homogeneous liquid consistency.
Flour is poured into a container with butter
3. Add a little flour into the hot water and continue to knead the dough vigorously with a wide wooden spatula so that there are no lumps.
4. You will have a flour lump. Then put the dishes with the dough on the steam bath again and grind the dough to a smooth and shiny mass. It should loosely lag behind the bottom and sides of the cookware. Leave the mass to cool.
Eggs are connected in a container
5. Pour the eggs into a deep bowl.
one egg at a time is added to the dough
6. Whisk them well to mix the whites with the yolks. You do not need to beat with a mixer.
The dough is kneaded
7. Egg mass of 2-3 tbsp. add to chilled dough and stir until smooth.
The dough is kneaded to a liquid consistency
8. Do this with all the egg mass so that the consistency of the dough becomes like thick sour cream. The finished dough should be smooth, shiny and thick enough.
The dough is poured onto a baking sheet
9. Cover the baking sheet with parchment for baking and with a tablespoon spread the dough at a distance of 2-3 cm. eclairs when baked will double in volume. The dough on the baking sheet should not spread, but keep its shape steadily. You can also drain the dough out of a pastry bag.
10. Heat the oven to 200 degrees and send the eclairs to bake for 15-20 minutes. Do not open the door of the brazier, otherwise they will not rise. Then reduce the heat to 150 degrees and dry the items for another 15 minutes. Then turn off the oven, open the door and leave the eclairs to cool completely.
See also a video recipe on how to make eclairs.
According to The Chambers English Dictionary, at least in a pre-1970s version, an éclair is “a cake, long in shape but short in duration”. In a standard French dictionary, you’ll find that an éclair is not only a pastry, but also a flash of lightning.
Food historians don’t quite agree as to why the pastry’s name means a flash of lightning in French—some believe the pastry’s moniker is a result of how quickly its eaten (“eaten in a flash”), while others claim its due to the fact that it sparkles when coated with glaze, like lightning. Regardless of its name, éclairs are undoubtedly delicious if made correctly. But they’re usually not.
The Five Deadly Sins of Éclair Baking
A quick Google search will reveal that most éclair recipes available online have severe flaws. I was able to identify five main problems when browsing recipes I had found online, which I’m going to call “The 5 Deadly Sins of Éclair Baking”. You’ve committed one of these deadly éclair sins if yours are
- Under-baked: Éclairs should have a rich, brown colour. They should not, by any means, be a pale, light brown. Under-baking results in a soft shell that fails to deliver the much needed textural contrast a good éclair provides. Under-baking éclairs can also cause them to collapse when removed from the oven.
- Old: Éclairs should be served the same day they are filled. Delays in serving éclairs result in the moisture from the filling (usually pastry cream but sometimes ganache or whipped cream) seeping into the shell. When this happens, the éclair loses the textural contrast between its crispy shell and velvety filling. It just tastes soft.
- Cracked: This is probably the second most common sin, right after under-baked éclairs. A good éclair should not have large cracks running through it. Large cracks make glazing almost impossible and filling far trickier.
- Sloppy: A properly made éclair should not be dripping with glaze, but rather have a clear, straight division between the glaze and the rest of the pastry.
If your éclairs have any of the preceding problems, you shouldn’t be disheartened. Most people screw éclairs up. In fact, when I posted a recipe for raspberry éclairs two years ago, I committed all five of these deadly éclair baking sins. Oops.
But here’s a good question: why are we, collectively, okay with mediocre éclairs? Why was I okay with mediocre éclairs?
I think it’s because most of us don’t know any better. Online, you can find so many quests bakers have gone on for perfectly fluffy cakes, lightly crisped croissants, or hollow-free French macarons. But there’s almost nothing out there for éclairs. There’s just not enough good éclairs out there for us to even know what the perfect éclair is. How can we strive for perfection when we don’t even know what perfection is? Well, folks, that’s about to change. Today, we’re breaking down the perfect éclair.
Sources and Inspiration
This tutorial is a combination of findings from my baking experiments (where I held everything constant except one factor to determine its effects), Eddy Van Damme’s recipe, Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode, and a video that I found online of the legendary Japanese pastry chef Sadaharu Aoki making éclairs.
What’s Choux Pastry?
Éclairs, profiteroles/cream puffs, croquembouches, churros, crullers, funnel cakes, some beignets (not these), St. Honoré cake, and gougères are all made from a type of paste called choux (pronounced SHOE). Since this tutorial covers how to make excellently-crafted choux pastry, a necessity for the perfect éclair, its helpful advice is not just limited to the oblong pastry. I highly suggest that you use the strategies discussed in this post in all of your choux endeavours to achieve the best possible results (that means that if you wish to make the choux recipes that I linked to in this tutorial, like the profiteroles or the funnel cake, use the new recipe at the bottom of this post for the paste instead).
Choux paste (or pastry) uses the power of steam to puff up, whether in the oven, hot oil, or boiling water. Choux has no special leavening agents—it’s just made from water, milk, butter, flour, salt, sugar, and eggs.
Achieving a Browned, Crispy Shell
My recipe for éclairs uses both milk and water in the choux paste, as many do. You may see some recipes that just use one or the other (like the old one I used for raspberry éclairs and profiteroles). Leaving out either milk or water, like I did before, is not a good idea. Both are very important and serve different purposes. The water in choux paste helps give the éclairs a crispy shell, while the sugars in the milk add colour and the proteins in it help support the éclair’s shape.
My new recipe starts off fairly simply: bringing milk, water, butter, salt, and sugar to a simmer. Bringing everything to a simmer ensures that the sugar and salt are properly dissolved. If they aren’t, the chunks of sugar and salt crystals will promote cracking when you bake the choux.
Avoiding Cracks: Salt, a Key Ingredient
Salt has a very important function in choux paste recipes. Simply put, it helps avoid cracks. Generally, the more salt you add to the dough, the fewer cracks you will end up with in your éclairs. That being said, the more salt you add the saltier your final result will be (obviously).
Not using salt in the filling and glaze and increasing the salt content of the choux paste is the best way to address this problem. Of course, if you’re making savoury choux pastry like for gougères (cheesy profiteroles), salt isn’t an issue for choux. (That’s a pun.)
Which Flour Should I Use?
Using the proper type of flour in éclairs is a necessity if you wish to avoid sin #2, flat éclairs. Flat éclairs not only look ugly, but they’re also very difficult to fill properly. I’ve seen éclair recipes that use, in order from least to most protein content, cake flour, all-purpose (AP) flour, and bread flour. The higher the protein content of the flour (i.e. the closer it is to bread flour), the better the éclair will be able to support itself and stay puffy. The more protein in the flour, the crispier the shell will be too.
Don’t believe me? Check out the picture below. The éclair on the left was made using AP flour, while the éclair on the right was made using bread flour. All other variables were held constant. The éclair on the right is far better. Just try filling the one on the left!
You shouldn’t take this experiment, however, to mean that you can’t make éclairs using all-purpose flour. You can. It will work. However, recipe for recipe, I’ve found that my results are far superior when I used bread flour. I committed fewer of the deadly éclair sins.
Regarding cake flour, which has even less protein than all-purpose flour, I would suggest avoiding it for choux paste. For some strange reason, Sadaharu Aoki seemingly uses cake flour in his éclair video. I think he either misspoke or the video was incorrectly translated because the results you’ll get with cake flour are definitely no good.
Adding & Cooking the Flour
After the milk, water, butter, salt, and sugar are brought to a simmer, the next step is to take the pot off the heat and add the sifted flour all at once. Why all at once? Your goal is to shock the flour with heat so that, according to Alton Brown, the starch molecules in the flour gelatinize and are able to hold onto all the water in the batter. Well, at least, that’s his reason. I’m not so sure. I didn’t have a chance to test out the effects of adding the flour all at once vs. slowly.
Regardless, once the flour is added, the mixture needs to be stirred, still off of the heat, until the flour is no longer visible.
Adding the flour when the mixture is not being heated is important to avoid chunks of flour in your choux paste (along, of course, with sifting the flour before adding it). When I made two batches of choux paste, one where the flour was added and combined off of the heat and one when it was not, the batch that was heated during flour addition had many more clumps of flour in it. These clumps formed cracks in the éclairs when they baked.
Once the flour is incorporated, the pot should be returned back to the stove for about two minutes. Heating the choux paste after mixing in the flour is essential. Doing so evaporates any water that isn’t trapped in the complex starch network of the dough. If you don’t do this, your éclairs will not rise properly because instead of the steam expanding the dough in a predictable fashion, it will be quite random and you’ll see lots of flat, cracked éclairs.
How do you know when you’re done? You should see a thin starch coating at the bottom of your pot. This is good. Sadaharu Aoki, however, warns that with some pots you’ll never get this coating. That’s why he recommends heating the dough until it reaches 75°C (170°F). That’s what I do too, just because I enjoy knowing exactly when it’s ready.
Since this coating forms while cooking the dough, you need to be careful not to mix it into your choux paste while cooking. If you do, you’ll end up with a non-smooth dough that promotes cracks. Therefore, when cooking the dough, do not mix as you would with most anything else. Mix with your spoon or spatula slightly above the surface of the pot so you do not scrape the coating into your paste.
Eggs are probably the most important ingredient in choux after water, which helps provide the steam necessary for the éclairs to rise. Egg yolks provide emulsifying power and flavour, while the proteins in the egg whites help support the éclair shell so that it doesn’t collapse. In fact, the proteins in the milk, flour, and egg whites work together to support the shell.
Adding the eggs is a simple process, but you need to be careful that the dough is not too hot before mixing them in or the eggs will curdle and promote cracking. Thus, before adding the eggs, it’s important to mix the dough for about a minute and thirty seconds to release the steam and let it cool down to about 60°C (140°F). At that point, you can add half of the room temperature, lightly-beaten eggs. Lightly beating the eggs before adding them helps ensure that the egg whites and yolks are properly distributed throughout the dough.
Once the first half of the eggs are incorporated, the rest should be added slowly, with the mixer still running, until combined. A bit more mixing after that is a good idea, too. You’ll end up with choux paste that is smooth, shiny, and hopefully lump free.
If you dip your finger in cold water and drag it through the choux paste, you should end up with (a) a trough that doesn’t collapse into itself and (b) a peak of dough where you lift your finger. This test helps ensure that you have the proper dough hydration (i.e. the right amount of liquid in it to help the choux puff up evenly in the oven). I got this idea from Sadaharu Aoki, and it’s lovely. When I was testing out different recipes with different hydrations, some would pass this test and others wouldn’t. The ones that passed the test produced the best éclairs.
Piping Éclairs: Preparing the Pan
Éclairs should be piped onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet as the proteins in the eggs would cause the éclairs to otherwise stick to the pan. However, if you line a baking sheet with parchment paper, it will likely slide around. That’s not very helpful when you’re trying to pipe a straight éclair. That’s why I secure the parchment paper to the sheet pan by dabbing on some choux paste between the parchment and the pan I’m placing it on. The choux acts like glue and prevents sliding paper while piping.
If you’re having issues with differently sized éclairs, consider marking down how long the éclairs should be on your parchment paper with a pen or a pencil before piping. Guide marks will help ensure each éclair is the proper length, around 13cm (5 inches).
Piping Éclairs: The Piping Tip
The single most important way to reduce cracking in éclairs and ensure that they are puffy instead of flat is to use the proper piping tip: a star-shaped tip, about 1.5cm (1/2 inch) in diameter, with as many fine teeth as possible. The teeth create ridges in the dough that helps it expand without cracking. If you use a round piping tip, you will get cracks.
That being said, if you only have a round piping tip, you can minimize cracking by running the tines of a fork lightly through the piped dough to create ridges. However, you will still have some cracks with this method. It’s not perfect. I highly suggest investing about $1.50 and getting the right piping tip. This is probably the most important take-away from this tutorial: get the right piping tip for éclairs. I use a piping tip similar to this one.
The Actual Piping
After filling up your pastry bag with choux paste, pipe the dough in straight lines at about a 45° angle to the pan. I’ve tried piping parallel to the pan and perpendicular to it, and I’ve found that 45° is the best way to get éclairs that are neither too thick nor too tall, but just right. (It’s the Goldilocks angle.)
Width and height are important here. Éclairs that are too thin and not tall enough will have minimal room for filling.
If you press lightly and move the bag quickly, your éclairs will be too thin. The trick is to press very strongly and move the bag at a medium speed. That way, you’ll end up with decently thick éclairs (about 2.5cm/1 inch) that are also quite straight.
When you get to the end of the éclair, there are two general ways that you can stop the stream of choux paste: shake the pastry bag to release the paste or drag it back over the already piped section.
I’ve had far better results with the former method. While most pastry chefs use the latter method, I’ve found that my control with the piping bag is not good enough for it. I tend to bring the bag too far back and destroy the ridges in about one-third of the éclair, which ends up cracking. On the other hand, most pastry chefs, who have far better pastry bag control than I do, are able to stop the flow in a much speedier “flick of the wrist” type motion and only destroy the ridges in a very small section of the éclair so they don’t get much cracking. Assuming your piping skills aren’t very good or you like to play it safe, I’d go with the shaking method. It’s only disadvantage is that it’s a little bit slower.
Weighing Browning Power vs. Cracking Power
With an egg wash, you’re facing a seemingly impossible situation: you can either brush the éclairs with an egg wash and end up with browned, cracked éclairs or not brush them and bake up pale, crack-free ones. So, which sin do you choose to commit? Sin one or sin four?
Don’t be silly. You don’t have to do either.
Here’s the deal: you can use an egg wash on your éclairs. But, and this is a big but, you need to be careful. If you apply too much egg wash, such that it spills over the sides of your éclair, the egg will trap the éclair to the pan and prevent it from puffing up. This will result in cracks as the éclair tries to break through the egg barrier. But, if you apply the egg wash gently, an egg wash is fine.
But who has time to be careful??
I use icing sugar instead of an egg wash on éclairs.
A quick dusting of icing sugar will help encourage browning (caramelizing the tops of the éclairs) and let the éclairs puff up properly. Plus, it’s much quicker than carefully applying an egg wash.
Thou shalt not sin with icing sugar!
Some recipes suggest starting at a high oven temperature and then lowering it when baking choux. The reasoning is that a high temperature will help the éclairs puff up, and then after that a low temperature is necessary to simply dry them out.
Frankly, I’ve played around with temperatures, and they haven’t made much of difference for me. I just start with one temperature, 180°C (350°F), and stick with it. It works fine.
Once the éclairs are done baking, I like to cut a little slit at the bottom of each one with a paring knife to release steam. Otherwise, when they cool, the steam will condense into water and the inside of the éclair will end up soggy. They may also deflate.
But, if you add the slit, you’ll end up with the perfect éclair shell: lightly crisped, a perfect shade of brown, and a large inner cavity ready to accept a creamy filling.
I don’t have any photographs for this step because it’s relatively simple. Whip up a batch of pastry cream, whipped ganache, or whipped cream and fill the éclairs. You can either cut them in half and pipe the filling in decoratively, or you can make three holes at the bottom of the éclair with a round piping tip or pen and then fill the éclair with a pastry bag. If you choose to go the latter route, make sure that you use enough filling. There’s nothing worse than an empty éclair. That should probably be sin number six.
While Bismarck pastry tips (with a long nose) are often suggested for filling éclairs, I don’t like them very much for this purpose. Their opening is too small to use for pastry cream, which is quite thick. They work much better for thin fillings, like mango curd for mango doughnuts. I just use a piping bag with a large, round tip for éclairs to fill them after I made the holes (I don’t make the holes with the tip in the bag since it’s messy). Works like a charm.
I’ve seen four types of glazes for éclairs: chocolate ganache, melted chocolate, poured fondant, and a simple icing sugar glaze. All of these work great and can be modified to suit the flavours you’re working with (e.g. by adding colourings, flavourings, and decorations). A simple icing sugar glaze (made with icing sugar and a splash of milk or water) is the easiest option, but it may crack. Melted chocolate or a simple chocolate ganache is most common.
A key note for glazing: make sure that your glaze is thick enough! A translucent glaze will reveal the éclair shell under it and it will also drip, preventing you from achieving a neat, professional coating on your éclair.
Unlike what some may suggest, glazing an éclair is a four step process.
First, dip the éclair into the glaze and move it side to side to ensure that its top is completely coated. Then, take it out of the glaze. This is usually where most people stop, and they end up with sloppy glazing work. You don’t want to be like most people though, right?
Second, use your finger to return the excess glaze on the top of the éclair back to the bowl by dragging your finger through the “stream” of excess glaze. (P.S. sorry for the blue hue in the next few photos; I had to switch lighting sources.)
Third, use your fingers to wipe off excess glaze on the sides of the éclair and get a straight edge.
Fourth, use your fingers to wipe off excess glaze at the curved sections. At this point you can add any toppings you wish (like candied nuts, fruit, etc.)
Ta-da, the perfectly glazed éclair!
Éclairs are special treats; they deserve more than haphazard technique. Focus. Refine. Practice. Eventually, you’ll get the perfect éclair.
Below, you’ll find my meticulously tested recipe for choux pastry. You can use this, as previously noted, for a variety of applications like éclairs, profiteroles/cream puffs, croquembouches, churros, crullers, funnel cakes, some beignets, St. Honoré cake, and gougères. To make the classic éclair (this recipe makes about eight 13cm/5 inch long ones), fill the baked dough with a vanilla pastry cream and dip in melted chocolate.
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Éclairs & Choux Paste
- 75g water
- 75g milk
- 75g butter
- 5g sugar
- 100g bread flour, sifted (note: if frying or boiling the choux, you can replace with AP flour)
- Icing sugar, for dusting
- Bring the water, milk, butter, sugar, and salt to a strong simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Remove the pot from the heat and add all the flour at once. Stir vigorously until the flour is completely incorporated.
- Add half of the eggs and mix, still on the lowest speed if using a stand mixer, until combined.
- With the mixer still running, or your hand still stirring, add the rest of the beaten eggs slowly while you continue to mix. Once incorporated, mix for an additional minute until the dough is smooth.
- Prepare a parchment paper lined baking sheet by dabbing a bit of choux between the paper and the pan at each corner to secure the paper to the pan.
- Dust with icing sugar.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F) for forty minutes, or until slightly darker than a golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and make a thin slit at the bottom of each éclair while still hot to let the steam escape. Let cool completely before filling and glazing.
Eclairs are delicious small cakes thatare made from a custard pasta, and then filled with cream. The filling for eclairs can be a custard, protein, oil, and top eclairs are covered with powdered sugar, chocolate glaze or nut crumbs. Baking eclairs – not a difficult occupation, so prepare these cakes, even a beginner mistress.
Cottage cheese eclairs
- 200 gr. flour
- 200 gr. cottage cheese
- 100 gr. butter
- 4 eggs
- 250 gr. powdered sugar
- 200 gr. cream (33%)
- 250 ml. water
- vanilla sugar
- powdered sugar for decoration
Cooking method: How to cook eclairs with cottage cheese? For this, it is necessary to pour water into the sauté pan, and then add salt to taste and butter. Bring to a boil over low heat. Then gradually add flour to the water and grind it with a wooden spatula until a smooth, smooth mass forms. The resulting mass cool to a temperature of 40 degrees, and then, constantly stirring to drive in eggs and knead, thus, a homogeneous dough. Cover the parchment with parchment paper. Dough for eclairs, put in a pastry bag, and then squeeze into small baking sheets, 5-7 cm long. Put the baking sheet in a preheated oven (200 degrees) for 10 minutes. In the meantime, beat the cottage cheese, add the powdered sugar and cream. The resulting curd mass, using a pastry syringe, is filled with baked eclairs pre-cut with a knife on one side. Cottage cheese eclairs – ready! Eclairs sprinkled with powdered sugar. Bon Appetit!
Eclairs with protein cream
- 200 gr. flour
- 5 egg whites
- 100 gr. butter
- 4 eggs
- 250 gr. Sahara
- 250 ml. water for dough
- 250 ml. water for cream
- powdered sugar for decoration
Cooking method: How to cook eclairs with protein cream? For this, it is necessary to pour water into the sauté pan, and then add salt to taste and butter. Bring to a boil over low heat. Then gradually add flour to the water and grind it with a wooden spatula until a smooth, smooth mass forms. The resulting mass cool to a temperature of 40 degrees, and then, constantly stirring to drive in eggs and knead, thus, a homogeneous dough. Cover the parchment with parchment paper. Dough for eclairs, put in a pastry bag, and then squeeze into small baking sheets, 5-7 cm long. Put the baking sheet in a preheated oven (200 degrees) for 10 minutes. In the meantime, prepare a protein cream for eclairs. In the saucepan pour the water, add sugar and cook until the caramel state of the future cream turns out. Then remove the saucepan from the heat and cool it. 5 whites to beat in a foam, and then without stopping to beat, gradually add sugar syrup. The resulting mass, using a confectionery syringe, fill the baked eclairs, previously cut with a knife on one side. Eclairs with protein cream – ready! Eclairs sprinkled with powdered sugar. Bon Appetit!
Eclairs with cream
- 180 gr. flour
- 160 g. butter
- 250 ml. water
- 4 eggs
- 70 gr. Sahara
- 270 ml. milk
- 200 ml. cream
- 30 gr. starch
- 10 gr. vanilla sugar
- 100 gr. chocolate
- 0.5 teaspoons of salt
Cooking method: How to make eclairs with cream? For this, it is necessary to pour water into the sauté pan, and then add salt to taste and butter (100 grams). Bring to a boil over low heat. Then gradually add flour to the water and grind it with a wooden spatula until a smooth, smooth mass forms. The resulting mass cool to a temperature of 40 degrees, and then, constantly stirring to drive in eggs and knead, thus, a homogeneous dough. Cover the parchment with parchment paper. Dough for eclairs, put in a pastry bag, and then squeeze into small baking sheets, 5-7 cm long. Put the baking sheet in a preheated oven (200 degrees) for 10 minutes. To prepare the cream, you need to bring the milk to a boil, add half the sugar and mix thoroughly. Dissolve starch in a small amount of hot milk, mix and pour into a basic saucepan with milk. Mix quickly. Milk cool. The remaining oil is ground with the remaining sugar, add the vanilla, mix and add to the milk. With a mixer, whip the cream, until thick, and then add them to the milk, mix again thoroughly. The resulting cream, using a pastry syringe, is filled with baked eclairs, previously cut with a knife on one side. Chocolate melt and dab into it every eclair. Eclairs with cream – ready! Bon Appetit!
Eclairs with custard
- 250 gr. flour
- 150 gr. butter
- 7 eggs
- 350 ml. milk
- 250 ml. water
- 250 gr. Sahara
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla sugar
- 0.5 teaspoons of salt
- powdered sugar