I was going out with my now husband about six months when we were about to celebrate our first Valentine's Day. I was harbouring a deep dark secret that had haunted me for many years. I was seeking help every Tuesday for weeks previous in secret to address my problem, but I didn't want him to know. And now I faced a dilema. Valentines fell on a Tuesday. I could either confess to my secret or I could make an excuse and tell him I couldn't rendezvous with him as I had a previous engagement and risk letting him thinking I was off with another man. So I broke down and told him. I couldn't swim. I was taking swimming lessons. I didn't tell him I had to wear arm bands and would end up pleading with my instructor to let me off going into the deep end because I didn't want to be fished out with a long pole with a hook on it again. It was too humiliating. He took the news well and didn't even laugh. I suppose it made me like him even more.
Now seven years later, I can swim and we normally take it in turns to cook each other a three course dinner to celebrate the big V day and I'm in luck this year as it's Chub's turn to cook! I still wanted to make something to mark the occasion though and I also wanted to enter something into English Mum's 'Baked With Love' competition. What could be more rosemantic then love swans. I love when we go holidays and we get love swans made from towels at the end of the bed. We once got a towel mermaid but I didn't like her as much. It wasn't as romantic.
So what else could I make for Valentines Day but love swan choux pastry. I hadn't made these before and struggled a little finding finding exact cooking times so I had to keep oven the oven and checking them with made them a little deflated. BUT I have put down better times for you below so you will have more puffy, fluffy and voluptuous swans than mine.
The recipe for choux pastry comes from Leiths Techniques Bible. This book is awesome. It has great step by step instructions to master everything you need to know in the kitchen. It also covers what went wrongs and has lots of great recipes.
Choux Pastry Ingredients - this amount of pastry will make about 10 swans.
85g butter, cut into small cubes
220ml water - weigh it to make sure it is accurate, it will equate to 220g
105g plain flour
a pinch of salt
3 eggs, beaten
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees or 180 degrees if fan assisted.
Sift the flour and salt at least three times onto a piece of greaseproof paper. To make this easier, fold the rectangle of greaseproof paper in half and open out, this gives a sharp edge for pouring the flour.
Add the butter and water to a medium sized saucepan and put on a medium heat until the butter has melted.
Bring the butter and water mixture to a fast boil and shoot in the flour mixture.
Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the liquid to form a firm, smooth paste. Beat the mixture until it comes away from the sides of the saucepan and forms a ball.
Tip the ball of paste onto a tray and smooth it into thin layer. Leave to cool until it feels just warm to the touch.
Return the paste to the pan or put in a freestanding mixer and add the beaten eggs a tablespoon at a time. Beating well after each addition.
Continue until the mixture is of a reluctant dropping consistency, hold its shape and has a slight sheen.
You are now ready for piping out the swans. This video will be really useful to watch, but I will go through the process below.
Do the swan necks first, put the mixture into a piping bag and pipe out about 10 necks, making a number 2 shape. Bake in the preheated oven for about 17-20 minutes, remove from the oven, turn them over and pierce them with a sharp knife. Return them to the oven for 3 minutes. Remove and leave on cooling rack.
Now do the bodies, you are aiming for a large almond shape. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, remove from the oven, turn them over and pierce them with a sharp knife. Return them to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove and leave on cooling rack. When cool, cut the body in half along it's length and the cut the top in half to make the wings.
Assemble with whipped cream, creme patisserie or ice-cream. Serve with chocolate sauce.
off with your Valentine. Enjoy!