Strawberry Eclairs / Boiled Icing (c.1909) ★★★★



This is a recipe I've had in my drafts for quite a while now, but just never got around to making.
It comes from The Good Housekeeping Woman's Home Cook Book, published around 1909. This cookbook is a good example of an early publication from a magazine. These kinds of cookbooks, compiled by readers and tested by committees became quite popular. For example, in Canada in the 20th and 21st century you can find a lot of cookbooks from Chatelaine, a women's lifestyle magazine.

This recipe sounded like a fun and summery take on the traditional eclair. Here in Japan it's already averaging 25 degrees during the day, so it's perfect weather for such a treat.


Original Recipe:


Strawberry Eclairs
Boil together in a saucepan one cup of 
boiling water, one-fourth cup of butter 
and a speck of salt. As it begins to boil 
stir in one cup of sifted flour. Stir con-
stantly until the mixture leaves the sides 
of the pan and cleaves together in a ball.
When partly cool add four eggs, beating 
them in one at a time. Drop carefully
in long narrow strips, some distance
apart, on buttered tins, and bake in a 
moderate oven until well risen--about
thirty minutes. Leave the oven door 
open a few minutes before removing the
eclairs, to prevent their falling. When
they are cool split one side, fill with
sweetened strawberries or jam. Spread
with boiled icing colored with strawberry 
juice.--Annabel Lee.


Boiled Icing
Boil one cup of granulated sugar with
one-fourth cup of water, until the syrup
hairs when dropped from a spoon. Have
ready the beaten white of one egg. Pour
the syrup slowly upon the egg, stirring
constantly. Flavor the same as the cake
and spread on the cold cake, when the
icing is stiff enough not to run. Cut in
squares or slices.

Notes:

Because I have only a Japanese measuring cup, I adjusted the measurements.

The choux pastry:
For the water, I used 237ml.
For the butter, I used 57g.
For the flour, I used 125g.
I only added 3 eggs, to account for modern large sized eggs.
I baked at 180C in a convection oven for around 25-35 minutes, depending on size.

The icing:
For the sugar, 200g.
For the water, 60ml.




The Verdict:

Overall, not too bad.
The pastry itself is kind of bland and gross on its own. It is a tiny bit eggy in taste, which I dislike. They were also a bit soggy inside, since the recipe didn't say anything about letting out the steam. However, these work alright as a vessel for a filling and icing.
I used a combination of fresh strawberries and strawberry jam as a filling. It worked nicely. Just jam on its own it alright, but using fresh strawberries really makes a difference. The icing is lovely and marshamallowy. I am a big fan of boiled icing. However, my icing didn't get very pink (I used the juice of 4 medium strawberries). Also, there was a ton of icing left over, which was kind of wasteful.
So, these aren't my favorite dessert, but they have some nice aspects to them. They were pretty quick and easy to prepare, as well. I probably don't like these enough to make them again, but if I did love choux pastry, I would probably enjoy this dessert a lot more. It's mostly personal preference here, so I give this recipe four stars.

Modernized Recipe:

(Adapted from The Good Housekeeping Woman's Home Cook Book)

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
pinch of salt
1 cup flour, sifted
3 eggs
strawberries, or jam to fill

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 egg white
juice from strawberries, for color

1. In a saucepan, add the water, butter, and salt. Bring to a boil and let the butter melt.
2. Add the sifted flour and stir until the dough leaves the sides of the pan and comes together in a ball. Set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If desired.
3. When the dough is partly cool, add the eggs, one at a time. When the dough is smooth, put it onto the prepared baking sheet in fairly narrow strips. I used a plastic bag with the corner cut off to pipe the filling on.
4. Bake at 350F for 25-35 minutes, depending on the size. They should be crisp and golden.
5. When done, cut them in half or poke a hole in them to let the steam escape. Return them to the oven for 15 minutes to cool (oven off). Then let them cool completely before filling and icing.
6. To make the icing, mix the sugar and water in a saucepan. Slowly bring to a boil and simmer for about 3 minutes or until it reaches 245 degrees. Add the strawberry juice. Have the egg white beaten to stiff peaks in a mixing bowl. Slowly pour in the hot sugar syrup, while beating the egg white. Beat until cool and fluffy.


Anje graduated with a Honours Bachelors degree in History with a minor in Museum Studies. She currently lives and works in Japan's least populous prefecture as an assistant English teacher.

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