Sunday, September 9, 2012

Swan Lake - Choux Swans from the GBBO

I've had my eye on making Choux Pastry Swans for a little while. I first saw them in Le Cordon Bleu Patisserie Foundations Classic Recipes and they seemed quite daunting, however I recently bought the Great British Bake Off - How to turn eveyday bakes into Showstoppers book which also features Choux Swans so I thought I would give them a go as I'm determined to master choux!
I have to say the GBBO didn't let me down, it was a really clear recipe to follow and the choux turned out successfully! The idea for the almond beaks came from the Le Cordon Bleu recipe book and I think they're a great addition to make the swans look even more realistic!
To make the swans I followed the Choux recipe below. In order to make my swans a uniform size I marked out the specifications on the back of the greaseproof paper and used it as a guide. If you wish to make choux swans, then to make the necks you need to pipe out 10 'S' shaped necks about 9cm long. To do this use a round piping nozzle about 6-7mm wide (or a Wilton 2A). You can either gently push in the almond beak just before cooking or alternatively when baked, cut a little notch and slide in the flaked almond. Gently glaze with beaten egg before baking.
For the body I marked out ten 8 x 4cm shape on the paper. Use two spoons to make an oval of choux this size. It should be roughly 2.5cm high. I didn't spoon the choux pastry terribly neatly which means any lumps and bumps are exacerbated during baking. Try and get a smooth oval, maybe by trying more of a quinelle action with the spoons to create the oval. Finally, brush with beaten egg before baking.
To construct the swans you will need to make a raspberry coulis (instructions available on the internet), this is just raspberries, icing sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice blitzed in a food processor and then passed through a sieve to remove the seeds. Also make up some Chantilly cream which is whipping cream and icing sugar. You will also need 1-2 strawberries per swan thinly sliced.
So once you have all the components in place spoon some of the raspberry coulis onto your serving plates to form a lake. Then cut your choux bun body in half horizontally, the top half can then be cut in half lengthways to create the wings.
The recipe suggests arranging the strawberries in the base of each swan but mine seemed to disappear down the sides. So I piped a bed of chantilly cream first and then arranged the strawberries before adding another layer of cream. The cream should be piped with a star nozzle. Next insert the neck before placing on the wings, these should be angled so they tilt upwards, allowing you to see the cream and strawberries. Et voila...serve immediately and enjoy!
I am entering these into Bookmarked Recipes as they've been on my 'to bake' list for about 6 months since seeing them in the Le Cordon Bleu recipe book. When I finally got round to making them, I used the GBBO book and Le Cordon Bleu for reference. Bookmarked recipes is hosted by Jac from Tinned Tomatoes and was originally founded by Ruth from Ruth's Kitchen Experiments.
Lottie from Lottie's World of Cakes and Bakes is hosting a GBBO blog challenge for the duration of the current series. If you have been inspired by the series and make any of the things you have seen or bake something related to the GBBO you can enter it into this challenge. It would seem appropriate to enter these swans as they are featured in the book accompanying the latest series.
Finally, I'm also entering my swans into Blue Kitchen Bakes 'Classic French Challenge' with the challenge this month being choux pastry.
Choux Pastry Recipe

100g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
75g unsalted butter, diced
3 large free-range eggs beaten

It may depend on what you're making as to what oven temp you require but for this recipe it was 200c/180c fan/gas 6.

When making choux you need to be ready so start by sifting the flour onto a piece of greaseproof paper, this makes it quick and easy to tip into the saucepan. Put the butter and salt in a saucepan along with the butter. Melt the butter gently but do not allowed to boil. Once completely melted, turn up the heat to a boil and then immediately tip in the flour. Remove the pan from the heat and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon, this should give you a smooth dough. You should then return the pan to a low heat and continue beating a bit more gently. This cooks out the flour a little and you should end up with a smooth, shiny ball of dough which has come away from the sides of the pan completely.

At this stage, place the dough into a bowl and leave to cool, it will be ready to use when it is only slightly warm (this took a little while surprisingly). In the meantime break the eggs and beat them together. When the dough has cooled use an electric mixer and add the eggs a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. This should make the dough into a shiny paste which should fall off the spoon with a shake. You may not need all eggs, it doesn't want to be wet. Save the remainder of the egg as a glaze. If you do make the dough too wet it will not puff in the oven. It should be a pipeable consistencey.

You can pipe your choux pastry into swans, profiteroles, eclairs and many more. Follow the baking instructions from your recipe but for the this recipe the necks took 15 minutes and the bodies baked seperately took 30 minutes, then open and close the door quickly and reduce the oven temp to 180c/160c fan/gas 4 and leave fcr another 5 minutes. Finally, remove the bodies from the oven, make a small hole at the end of each one to let the steam escape and bake for a final 5 minutes, they should be crisp and dry.

* Adapted from The Great British Bake Off - How to Turn EveryDay Bakes into Showstoppers.


  1. good LORD lady... these are stunning!... such a steady hand and so much patience... mine would look more like ducks i'm sure x

  2. These are incredible. I love the idea of the almond beak - you're right, it does make them more lifelike! :)

  3. Beautiful! I'm running a challenge this month where the theme is choux pastry. If you want to enter the linky is here

  4. Love your swans - your the first person I've seen to use a flaked almond for a beak...and it totally makes it!

  5. Wow, so beautiful. I've been tempted to buy this book for the last few weeks, and this bake is impressive x

  6. These are just beautiful, you should be very proud. The almond beak is definitely the piece de resistance for me!

  7. These look better than the ones in the book! I've bookmarked them but not sure when I'd get round to it.

  8. Wow! They're gorgeous! I think you should enter Bake Off next year.

  9. wonderful!! You are an artist. You have made this so well. Really really well done you!!

  10. Wow these look fabulous! Well done! Thank you for entering them into the Bake Off Challenge, I love them!

  11. Your choux swans are so delicately made! I think they are "swimming" very elegantly on a pool of coulis :D

  12. These look amazing!! I bet they tasted amazing as well!! xx

  13. Stunning!! Wow, the beaks are brilliant. These are wonderful!


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