A seasonal affair: Rhubarb, Strawberry and Thyme tarts

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Rhubarb, strawberry and thyme tarts

We’re now well into winter. Now having passed the winter solstice, it means the days will get longer and eventually, warmer days will be here. I keep dreaming of the gorgeous berries and stone fruits that are in season during the warmer months. But right now, I keep seeing a lot of rhubarb.

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Choux Party

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Profiteroles and tea cups

Choux Pastry is a pastry that I love to make. I love how methodical and easy it is to mix, and love watching it rise in the oven. It was almost 2 years ago when I first attempted making this pastry (and you can check my blog post about it here) and since then, I have always found a sense of comfort while making this.

When I was younger, my favourite thing to eat were eclairs. My aunt made them and at that time, I watched her make it and ate with awe. I only got eclairs at special occasions and it was always such a wonderful and rare treat for me.

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Tasty choux treats

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My love for my food processor has been further justified, thanks to another successful choux pastry. The trusty recipe by Stephanie Alexander (The Cook’s Companion) certainly helped but the processor made it foolproof. Several times my husband has suggested culling it, but I stand firmly by it despite its bulkiness.

It was easy to dream up the delicate and colourful eclairs I had seen on a Masterchef episode, but recreating them was quite another matter. While my pastry was on point, I lacked the knowledge of how to pipe the pastry. Yes, I vaguely remember a suggestion of sizes for the piping nozzle and lengths in centimetres, but who has the time for that? Of course, this was pastry, so ignoring that and going by assumptions meant my eclairs turned out short and chunky. The bottom wasn’t flat and they wobbled around on the plate. I was chuffed at the texture of the pastry, but any hope of it being the aesthetic star at a dessert table quickly faded.

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I used a Donna Hay filling instead of a creme patissiere, simply because I didn’t have the time. But it turned out fine. One of the disappointments was the raspberry glaze I made. It wasn’t glossy and it just dried on the pastry and did not look at all appealing, even with the gold leaves that complemented the red.

It is tempting to delete the unfavourable photos. It was even more tempting to scrap out this blog post because my eclairs didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. Our social media profiles show the  good times, carefully curated photos of the best. I am someone who doesn’t post photos in bad lighting on Instagram and take several snaps of my teacup flat-lays before I choose my favourite. But writing and photographing my chunky eclairs puts it on the map of my food adventures. While I was photographing, I did get a bit disheartened, specially looking at how badly the raspberry glaze had turned out. But I decided to go ahead with this because it helps me commit to what I have started and I know the next batch of eclairs will only be better.

I made the eclairs for a baby shower. You can read all about it and see some photos on stammeringmannequin.