The secret to making good beer, as with great culinary creativity, is balancing flavours to meld into an overall experience that meets with approval. I was curious to know what might happen if I combined the hop flavours of a good beer with the sweetness of a classic dessert. I knew it might not have worked, but as it happens I am very pleased with the results.
I decided to trial making choux pastry buns filled with creme patisserie and all with as much of the liquid replaced with Azimuth as I dare. In the end I managed to make sufficient for a dinner party of 4 and incorporated a full bottle of Azimuth in doing so.
Mindful of the need to avoid overheating of the beer, the recipe choice required the liquids to be boiled at some point in the process. This is breaking rule1 number 1 of making food with hoppy beers. I felt I had to try, and really, nasty industrial beer is pasteurised by heating it to silly temperatures, so I figured if I was careful it would work out OK.
For the choux pastry; I'm not here to replicate the plethora of recipes out there for general cooking well established classics. I'm trying help incorporate beer into these things. Good choux pastry recipes are all over the place on the internet, but they vary quite a bit. If in doubt I fall back on a book first published in 1950 with the edition we2 have reprinted in 1976 to include metric measures, if you please.
Despite the plethora of internet based information, you still can't beat a papery thing. Sadly this particular culinary bible seems to be out of print.
In this case I used 125ml out of a bottle of Azimuth to replace the water. The trick, as always with beer, is to only just take the beer to the temperature that is needed, and if at all possible avoid boiling. For choux the boil immediately prior to dumping in the flour is to distribute the melted butter. I got the mixture just under the boil and stirred it a little. Same thing really. After that I followed the recipe as if I had simply used water.
Once cool you can make the paste into whatever shape you wish to, using a piping bag if you are that way inclined. We aren't posh enough to have a piping bag, or arsed enough to make one from greaseproof paper, I simply dollop on a baking tray. Make sure you cook them well enough otherwise you get a soggy centre and they collapse when cooling.
There are a huge number of creme patisserie recipes, with great variations. I could not find a definitive one either to link to or to post a copy-write infringing photo on here. Anyway, I did dick with this a little, so here goes.
Dave's IPA Creme PatisserieIngredients;
200ml Azimuth (The rest of the bottle)
100ml double cream
4 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
20g plain flour
10g corn flour
knob of butter3
Mix the Azimuth and cream in a pan, split the vanilla pod down it's length and remove seeds, put seeds and pod in the beer cream mix. Gently bring to just under the boil, set aside and rest for a minute.
Mix the egg yolks and sugar together well and then stir in the flour, both types.
Pour the hot liquid onto the egg yolk mixture and whisk. Return to the pan and heat until just and so boiling stirring all the time.
Remove from heat, beat until smooth, add knob of butter and continue to mix.
For best results, to ensure a smooth mix and to get out that vanilla pod, pass through a sieve whilst still hot and beat again4 before covering with cling film and cooling.
Then, take your choux buns, or whatever shape they are, and fill them with the confectioners custard.
Decorate if you want to impress, or just shove them in your mouth and eat them. Either way, I'm truly impressed with the resultant flavours.
1My rules, I'm not sure if anyone else has made up a set of beer cooking rules, but I'm making my own up as I go along.
2I was going to say "I have" and I remember that there is an inscription in the inside cover clearly stating that it is Ann's, by rights. I'm sure my Grandmother had a copy too, which I believed I had inherited. Despite it's claim to be a "Northern Counties Cookery Book" I still find it to be a bedrock of general culinary information. Note use of salt, a pinch is great. Choux is generally considered used for dessert, and some call for sugar, but normally only if it's a Home Counties recipe. **rolls eyes** bloody southerners.
3Not margarine, or any sort of "I can't believe", butter tastes like butter, everything else is 5h1t3. However if you are concerned the butter is optional and just helps to add a nice sheen to the creme.
4On both occasions that I tried this there was evidence of the creme splitting after passing. I simply beat a little to recombine whilst it cools a little more. I guess it's the fact that I use double cream AND a knob of butter. Well creamy.
5It seems chefs use the word "pass" by itself to mean strain or pass through a sieve. Which is handy, and counters the word superfluation that irritates some pendants, as in the phrase "fry off the onions"