The 3 Favorite Desserts thread has me thinking about Eclairs (one of my all time favs)… but it’s been a while as the local Safeway bakery rarely has them in stock whenever I order stuff.

So I looked online and came up with Laura’s recipe. One of the things I like about her is she doesn’t stress on presentation, and her method seemed the simplest of all that I viewed.

I don’t have piping nozzles so I would probably just cut these in half and make a sandwich out of them. Any thoughts on improving this? Or should I just do them? (c;

Eclairs are not simple by design, though yes, simplicity will depend on how much you care about what they look like. I have been baking lots of pate a choux desserts lately because I really do enjoy making pate a choux, and while I typically go with cream puffs due to my eating preferences, I made eclairs recently and they’re easily the most annoying and demanding choux item. And that includes croquembouche and the Paris-Brest a couple of days ago.:joy: Even if you’re not obsessive about presentation, they just tend to be really particular about things like baking conditions.

Really not a fan of that recipe for multiple reasons, but I can ignore most of them because I get that she’s not concerned with them looking professional. However, there’s one particular thing I can’t ignore and that’s her shells being pale. You really want a nice deeply brown shell because it will be crisp and dry, completely hollow, and will not taste eggy. Baking at 350 the whole way through produces better results than the blast of high heat for eclairs (which like to burst) and it also allows them to get a deep brown. Another important part is to sift powdered sugar over them for better browning. Powdered sugar works better than egg wash and I dislike suggestions of spraying them with a flavorless oil. The shells should cool in the oven to help crisp them. Even if presentation is of no importance, the taste of the eclair is much improved if your shells are crisp and brown.
And you kind of do need piping tips for piping the eclair shells at least.

General pate a choux tips to ward off failure:
When you cook pate a choux you want to cook the flour paste to 170-175 degrees Fahrenheit before taking it off the heat. This is an important step to ensure proper gelatinization and evaporation. Salt is very important as well and not just for flavor (under salted choux however is very bland so you definitely want to avoid that aspect), so it’s good to make sure to have 2% salt.
I prefer bread flour for eclairs because it makes for sturdier shells, but it’s not an absolute dealbreaker.

I don’t like desserts too sweet but personally think the pastry cream should be sweeter, and standard pastry cream does contain more sugar than that, but that’s preference. I love diplomat/crème legere, but pastry cream is perfectly delicious, too.

This is also a great tutorial, but it’s definitely more obsessive than you are likely interested in:


Also, if presentation is of no importance, and you plan to sandwich anyway, have you considered the simpler cream puffs? You can give them the eclair treatment and glaze them, but they’re a lot less demanding.


Ok… convection or no?

The first HR video you linked to says butter works better, and that water or PS both work second best. And in the 3.0 video she recommends using both water and PS. I have seen other tutorials that also recommended water. Thoughts?

It seems the majority of bakers feel this way, but I use an AP flour that is a bit higher in protein than most AP flours, and have never had a problem with recipes that recommend bread flour. Some say to sift it… is that just to reduce the possibility of lumps, or is there another reason?

Lastly… All of the recipes I have seen so far make a lot of these, but usually mention they do not store well. I have never bought enough of these where they would hang around for more than a day so have no idea how long they keep. I remember one tutorial that mentioned freezing… but it was not clear whether they were talking about the dough, the cooked pastry, or the entire assembled eclair.

If freezing is not a good option I will have to seriously scale down these recipes. Do you see a problem with that?



No convection. I use water because it produces steam and then powdered sugar. I just generally prefer not to brush the dough with anything, which can mess up your piping and also risk being too heavy. Powdered sugar gives you beautiful browning and it adds to the flavor. It’s pretty much my go-to for any sweet choux applications.

The one where I think it’s more important to use bread flour is eclairs because of their particular shape (and maybe Paris-Brest), but as I said, it’s not a dealbreaker and you can make them with AP just fine.

I think the eclairs are still wonderful a day later, but I try not to go longer than that because pastry cream tends to have a short shelf life. You can make a smaller batch of pastry cream to fill as many as you think you’ll eat and just freeze the rest of your baked shells. They really do re-heat nicely and taste freshly made after a quick toasting.
I make pastry cream with 2 yolks and 1 cup of milk frequently, and you can also make it with whole egg if you don’t want leftover egg whites.


You can easily make a half batch of pate a choux, too. It has the advantage of only having a single tray to bake, which helps because you ideally want to bake just one tray at a time.

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I have made eclairs without convection, but it has been a long time.

I like the kind with mousse inside, instead of white pastry cream.

I don’t know why, despite similar construction, I much prefer eclairs to cream puffs.

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I’m the other way because I prefer the simpler pleasures of a cream puff. I don’t have a great love for chocolate, so the glaze isn’t an upgrade for me, and eclairs require being made ahead of time for the glaze to set and get nice and cold after dipping, whereas cream puffs are ideally filled to order and the shell should be ultra crisp. Plus cream puffs are messier to eat, which is fun :laughing:.
This is good because making cream puffs is much faster than eclairs!

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I completely ignore cream puffs , profiteroles and Croquembouche, if èclairs are available!

I don’t like whipped cream, or vanilla pastry cream- the cream puffs I like are filled with fruit or chocolate mousse. There’s a French pastry shop that makes the mousse -filled cream puffs not too far from my apartment.

This was the most recent èclair I enjoyed, lemon raspberry rose, from Prairie Boy Bread in Toronto!


Shellybean, Thanks for the concise and helpful tips. Good for the old memory.
I printed and tucked in with my eclair recipes. Esp like the sprinkling of powdered sugar.
Some baking posters really stand out with their contributions and you are certainly one! Thanks!


I have to wonder if the eclairs you’ve had aren’t filled with legere/diplomat rather than mousse. Some might have mousse, but diplomat/legere is more common.
The one in the photo looks like lemon pastry cream. Or pastry cream and lemon curd folded in. Occasionally you might see cremeux or ganache in eclairs, too,
Thanks so much @Elsieb! I’m glad these were helpful!

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This particular one I posted might have been a lemon pastry cream. I have no idea.

I don’t know if the ones I have purchased in France and at some Canadian patisseries have been made with mousse or diplomat. The texture resembles mousse.

One èclair pâtisserie in Toronto calls their filling Cremeux

This is a popular èclair in Toronto

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I remember someone (think it was HR) saying water first, then PS… and that the PS is then absorbed by the water. How about just a simple syrup instead? What would you estimate the ratio of water to sugar to be in what you use?

That would be much more complicated than just a quick sift of powdered sugar. The water spritzing is really not necessary. It’s just an extra bit of steam insurance so that the skin of your dough stays moist while the dough is expanding. The sugar is for color, crust, and flavor. I’ve never tested, so I can’t say how simple syrup would work, but it tends to be sticky and I worry it would actual form a sort of seal on your dough. Probably it would be fine, but it’s far more finicky to make simple syrup and brush it onto your shells (which I really prefer not to do for eclairs because excess can affect rise) than to sift powdered sugar over them.

But you do spray water on them before the sugar, right? I am just trying to avoid buying stuff that will sit around for ages because I never use it, and PS is definitely one of those.

I can easily melt sugar in water and add to a spritzer… was just curious about the ratio. I’m guessing if you’re spritzing water, and then dusting with PS, it is close to the 50-50 ratio of simple syrup.

Yeah, but even if I didn’t spritz water on them I’d still sprinkle with powdered sugar, and I don’t necessarily bother with the water, but I don’t skip the sugar. Powdered sugar will disappear into the dough no matter what.
If you don’t want to use powdered sugar, just do the flavorless spray that sites like Serious Eats recommend. I personally only like using spray to apply to pans and not directly to food, but if you don’t mind it and have it, it works well. Or brush them with butter as Helen did during her initial attempts. As you said, you’re not looking for perfection, and it will help your shells brown and crisp more than if you just leave them plain before baking. You could even do the egg wash.

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Ha ha… I thought that was gross! Don’t use sprays, even on pans. I love EVOO and butter, and those grease anything I am told to use a spray on. I think when I try this I’ll do half with butter, and half with the sugar water and see what turns out best.

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I just came across this…

…and found the freezing points interesting.

But today Safeway had fresh made ones of which I bought 4! So more eating then making this weekend (c;


I know people freeze pate a choux, but I prefer to freeze already baked shells because I have found frozen pate a choux to be inconsistent. Plus making it is really quick while baking the shells takes a pretty long time plus the cooling. And the baked shells reheat really well. But others might find it more convenient that way.
For the record I have a few Bismarck tips and I find them really bad for piping things like pastry cream and diplomat. They’re really best for things like jelly donuts.

So just to be clear, you disagree with freezing the long piped batter, cutting, thawing, baking process?

BTW, thanks for all of your advice on this!

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