Sunday, 30 June 2013

Respected, revered and admired - Ferran Adrià

There are countless fantastic chefs working around the world today, but only a handful can be considered truly great. Those visionaries, whose creativity, artistry and vision transcend the medium and whose impact is so monumental, that it revolutionises the gastronomic landscape entirely. Culinary alchemists such as Carême and Escoffier, whose culinary genius define their generation.

Ferran Adrià is one such chef. Pioneer of avant-garde cuisine and techno-conceptual cookery, champion of creativity and mastermind behind the now legendary elBulli, he is one of the greatest chefs of all time. A revolutionary, committed to changing the way we think about food. Yet despite his considerable achievements, he still retains a humility and generosity that belies his eminence. He is not only a culinary magician but a complete gentleman, so it was apt that I recently grabbed a few minutes of his time to ask him about his influences, the elBulliFoundation and cooking at home... 

You are one of the most important and influential voices in the culinary world, but who or what has influenced you the most over your career? 

I consider myself to be self-taught. I haven’t spent long periods working in other kitchens, but I have studied in depth the works of the great chefs, especially those of the Nouvelle Cuisine, which greatly inspired me during my early stage in elBulli. But one day, after hearing from Jacques Maximin the phrase “creativity means not copying”, I decided to search for my own line of cooking, using the knowledge and standards that I had gained, in order to be able to explore the limits of cookery within a well thought out logic. 

Where do you find your inspiration? 

There is no exact method to finding inspiration, it emerges from many different sources. I have found inspiration travelling, watching films, listening to an opera, reading a book... The wonderful thing is that the world and life itself is full of inspiring moments and situations; what’s important is to be prepared to capture the inspiration from each moment, and to have the capability to know how to utilise that inspiration in a concrete way, which, in our case, is to create a dish. 

What has been your proudest achievement? 

We have created many techniques and concepts of which we are very proud, such as the foams, the warm jellies, the airs, the spherification, etc, because today we could say that these things have triumphed in gastronomy, and it is not strange to find them in restaurants of all corners of the world.

But if I had to choose one thing, it would be achieving the global propagation of the Spirit of elBulli. Beyond the dishes, the techniques and the concepts, the thing that most fills us with satisfaction is that the way of thinking, of doing, of understanding cookery and life in general, has been propagated thanks to the extraordinary chefs that have come out of elBulli. In this way, our spirit will continue to live. 

What (if anything) do you miss the most about the restaurant? 

Honestly, I don’t have time to miss anything. I am currently working more than ever, and between the trips to explain the elBulliFoundation to the world, the development of all of the Foundation’s projects, and other things, we are super active.

The work that we are doing is thrilling, which is why I don’t miss the elBulli restaurant. That said, there are times when I am in a restaurant and I get the urge to get behind the stoves. But anyhow, soOn the elBulliFoundation will become reality and there I will cook more than ever. 

Tell me more about the elBulliFoundation and its three main projects. 

The activities of the elBulliFoundation will be divided into 3 projects:

ElBulli 1846 will be the space showcasing the history of elBulli restaurant, from its launch up to its transformation into the elBulliFoundation.

The Bullipedia is a creative archive of all existing knowledge of the history of cooking, which aims to help cooks all around the world to create and also to encourage the education and teaching of cooking.

ElBulli DNA will be the creative team, who will divulge all their work via the internet. 

What do you hope to achieve? 

To help in the continued advancement of cookery, using creativity as the main link, to make our work and our creative way of doing things more accessible to anyone who is interested, and to improve the understanding of cooking. 

What have been the biggest challenges you have faced so far with the Foundation? 

It’s a completely new project for which we have no existing reference and therefore we cannot compare ourselves to other experiences or past events.

This is the first project of its kind to be undertaken in cooking, which makes it a huge feat. But we are confident that with our motto: Freedom, risk and passion, we will make the elBulliFoundation a success in the world of cooking. 

When you are in the UK, where do you look forward to visiting (both food related and otherwise)? 

I love the UK. I travel quite a lot to London, it’s a city I am in love with.

In terms of the gastronomy, the fact that London is a multicultural city, makes it incredibly attractive. You get the convergence of local cuisine cooks (Heston being the clearest example) with those who practice foreign cookery of an extraordinary quality, which secures the UK as one of the countries with the best quality and most versatile gastronomy in the world.

In addition, the wonderful markets, shops and artisan producers that can be found in the UK make it one of the top gastronomic destinations of the planet. 

What do you like about British cuisine? 

That they have known how to maintain their cookery culture as well as being able to absorb all the cultural influences that have come from the outside. 

What do you enjoy cooking at home? 

Everything, whatever I fancy at any given moment, although at home I cook very simply. I enjoy making tortilla de patatas [Spanish potato omelette], for example. 

Are there any foods you don’t like? 


What one piece of advice would you give to amateur and home cooks? 

Eating in a fun, healthy, attractive and economic way at home is totally possible. In fact, a few years ago we made a book called “The Family Meal”, where we explained the recipes that we were cooking for ourselves in elBulli. In it, we demonstrated that at home anyone can cook in an amateur semi-professional way in terms of results. The important thing is to get organised, and to enjoy eating and cooking.

    We are what we eat, and eating well feeds the soul.

More information about the elBulliFoundation can be found at

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Double Chocolate Fridge Cake

When I first discovered my love for baking I felt truly blessed. Then somewhere along the way I found myself more than a little obsessed, before finally becoming completely possessed. My mind is awash with thoughts of baking, I find myself pacing the kitchen looking for excuses to bake and I lie awake at night thinking of recipes and ideas. Baking, talking about baking, writing about baking, it's all I want to do, all of the time. It can't be good for me, this infatuation. I really should give myself a break. But how can I indulge my adoration for sweet treats, without fully succumbing to the baking devil lurking just below the surface?

The answer sits in the corner of my kitchen. The hulking grey obelisk so frequently used, but rarely offered more than a little regard. The cooler, the chiller cabinet, the fridge. One of the most important inventions in the history of food, yet taken for granted by most of us, myself included. It deserves its time in the spotlight and can be equally as useful for producing beautiful cakes and desserts as your trusty oven. All you need is the right recipe.

Fortunately for both of us I have the right recipe. Well a recipe so wrong, it's right. A dense, rich, chocolatey gratification, with a dark chocolate tiffin base topped with white chocolate ganache. A luscious, luxurious, licentious extravagance which is stunning to serve and simple to prepare. It is more than just an alternative to a baked cake, it is an absolutely sensational dessert in its own right.

Prep time: 20 Mins
Baking time: Zero, but at least 5-6 hours chilling time
150g Unsalted Butter (Chopped into cubes)
100g Golden Syrup
300g Digestive Bicuits
50g Cocoa Powder
300g White Chocolate (Broken into squares)
150ml Single Cream
The seeds from 1 Vanilla Pod
25g Dark Chocolate (Broken into squares)

Take a 23cm springform tin (without the base) and line with two sheets of cling film, so the cling film overlaps both at the top and bottom. Fit the base and close the tin around it, locking it and securing the cling film in place. Make sure there are no gaps or tears in the cling film and fold any excess over the edges. You don't need to worry about lining the base of your tin. With that little chore done the real fun can now begin.

In a large saucepan melt together the butter and golden syrup on a low heat. Whilst they are melting place the biscuits in a large bowl and crush them finely. You can use a rolling pin for this and try to pulverise them as finely as you can, although a few odd lumps are fine. Tip in the cocoa powder and mix together, then set to one side. When the butter and syrup have melted together remove from the heat, tip in the crushed biscuits and cocoa mixture, then mix together until combined. Tip the mixture into your prepared tin, press firmly all over until evenly compacted and set to one side for an hour until cool.

When the base has cooled for an hour you can prepare the ganache. Sit a large mixing bowl over a pan over simmering water. Tip in the chocolate, cream and vanilla seeds then leave to melt together. You can stir occasionally but try to avoid mixing too much whilst it's on the heat. When the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and mix together until evenly combined, then pour over the cooled base. Slightly tip the tin in each direction to ensure the ganache mixture reaches the edges. Melt the dark chocolate, also in a bowl over simmering water or in the microwave (if you are confident in you timings). Dribble little drops of dark chocolate over the top of the white chocolate mixture, then place the tin in the fridge for 5-6 hours (even overnight) until set.

When the cake has set, it's time to carefully remove it from the tin. Before we start though, a tip. I place the tin in the freezer 30 minutes prior to removing the cake from it, which allows the edge to firm up slightly and makes it a LOT easier to remove. To remove the cake, loosen the tin, then very gently peel off the cling film. You can leave on the base to serve, or to remove completely slide a palette knife underneath the base, before easing the cake onto a serving plate. Congratulations, your work is done. Time to enjoy a slice or two.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Respected, revered and admired - Claire Clark

 Photo courtesy of André Bieganski

To call Claire Clark one of the best female pastry chefs in the world is doing her a disservice. Claire Clark is one of the best pastry chefs in the world full stop. A bold statement this may be, but it is not without merit. She has worked with some of the best chefs and in some of the most highly regarded kitchens in the world, from the Ritz and Claridges to the French Laundry in California. She has won countless award and accolades, including the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de la Grande-Bretange and an MBE for her services to the food industry and her desserts have graced both the House of Commons and Buckingham palace. She is a master of her craft, a supreme professional and not only committed to the pursuit of excellence but also to the development of the new breed of aspiring pastry chefs. Claire’s passion, creativity and dedication are an inspiration and recently I was lucky enough to be able to ask her a few questions of my own…

You have worked with some of the most renowned and prestigious restaurants, hotels and institutions in the world. Who has been the biggest influence on your career and why?

Without a doubt Thomas Keller, for so many reasons.  He is the most amazing man and restauranteur I know.  He remains humble and whilst working at the French Laundry I learned so much more than cooking.  Respect for my team, discipline, extreme organisation and true love of food. 

What inspires you?

Ohh just about everything, fashion, art, nature, people..........

What is your favourite sweet treat to eat and to make?

Gosh,  not sure I have a favourite, I love too many things.  It changes all the time.  At the moment its getting to Company Of Cooks Production kitchen in Park Royal at 4am and enjoying a warm, fresh out of the oven Eccles cake.  I also LOVE fruit cake, especially my recipe that Louise Ridgen makes, she put three bottles of Rum in it instead of one at Christmas and as its sooooo good she continues to put 3 in!!!!! If I'm working with her there will be a cup of Earl Grey tea and a slice of fruit cake ready for my arrival. 

Is there any dessert you dislike?

I'm not fond of egg custard, its a texture thing.  I will eat it but its not my favourite texture.

Baking and afternoon tea has seen a recent resurgence in popularity. Why do you think that is?

The Great British Bake Off made it fashionable at a time when there was a recession.  Baking at home became trendy, fun and cost effective.  In my view it always has been!

What in your opinion makes the perfect afternoon tea?

Balance.  Great cakes with different textures and flavours, fluffy scones and interesting sandwiches. Stick to good baking and don't make it pretty for pretty sake then lose the quality of the product.  That's disappointing.  Taste must come first. Oh and a great cuppa.  I adore tea, it calms me and makes me happy. Lalani and Co have some of the best. I took my own tea pot to French Laundry which was given to me when I left the Wolseley and my own tea.

What one dessert should everyone learn to make?

Lemon Tart, there are so many skills involved and its something everyone loves. If you can make a good Lemon Tart you can make anything, well nearly.

Why do you think home cooks are so fearful of making pastry?

Because they have to measure everything, they generally don't and then wonder why it didn't work out!!! Measure, measure, measure, follow the recipe.  There's no room for winging it until you learn the basics and the science behind it, this frightens most people.

What is the secret to perfect pastry?

Don't over handle the Pastry, don't over work it and rest it as long as possible. Cold hands do work better as does iced water if using in your recipe.

What's next for you?

I would dearly love to have my own all day lounge but I am still in need of investment.

For more information about Claire, including details about her book "Indulge. 100 Perfect Desserts" please visit

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Apple, Carrot and White Chocolate Cake

Traditional carrot cake is one of my favourites, but the classic, sweetly spiced version that we all know and love does not have to be the end of the story. Here I've replaced the spicing with the light fragrance of vanilla and lemon and infused the batter with rich white chocolate. I've then topped with thin slices of sugared apple, which caramelise beautifully in the oven. The result is a moreishly moist and fruity beast, with subtle contrasts in both flavour and texture. There are a fair few different processes involved in its creation, so more so than usual I recommend getting everything measured and prepared before you start. It is also admittedly a relatively long cake to bake, but we all know that the best things are worth waiting for.

Prep time: 25 minutes
Baking time: 90 minutes
200g White Chocolate
200g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
200g Light Muscovado Sugar
3 Large Eggs
The zest of 1 Lemon
1tsp Vanilla Extract
1tsp Baking Powder
200g Plain Flour
300g Grated Carrot
2 Large Dessert Apples
1.5tbsp Demerara Sugar

The first task required is to melt 100g of the white chocolate. It's best to do this now so it has a bit of time to cool before needed. You can do this over a bain-marie, or in the microwave if you are confident with your timings. Whilst the chocolate is melting preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a deep 20cm loose bottomed tin and line the base with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time, along with the lemon zest and vanilla extract. Sift in the baking powder along with the flour, then pour in the 100g of melted white chocolate and mix to a smooth batter. Finely chop the remaining 100g of white chocolate, add to the mixture with the grated carrot and fold through until combined. Spoon into your prepared tin and even to the edges.

Peel and core the apples, then thinly slice. Arrange a half of the sliced apple on top of the batter, sprinkle over half of the sugar, then repeat for the other half. You don't want any gaps at all, even at the edges, but you can decide on how you arrange them. Place in the centre of the oven for 90 minutes, until the apples are golden and starting to caramelise and a metal skewer can be cleanly removed when inserted into the middle of the cake. It's worth checking the cake after about 75 minutes and if the apples are already nicely golden then it's fine to cover the top with a sheet of foil to prevent them burning. Once the cake is cool, leave in the tin for 20 minutes, then carefully turn out. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack, and the cake is ready to slice and serve. As I mentioned above this cake does involve a few different techniques but for that reason it is great fun, not to mention delicious!

Monday, 17 June 2013

White Chocolate Coffee Cakes

Regular readers will be all too aware of my fondness for leaf tea. In fact I would even go so far as to say I love it almost as much as I do cake. For that reason coffee rarely gets a look in here at Le Château du Boulanger, but just to show there's no hard feelings I've come up with this easy recipe that showcases the beautiful roasted aromatics of black coffee with a cheeky white chocolate twist. Although I've used a muffin tray to bake these little lovelies in I've not lined it with paper cases, as I think you get a much more enticing and appealing finish this way, not to mention a deeper, more biscuity flavour to the crumb. Also, the butter icing is entirely unnecessary, which makes it all the more essential.

Prep time: 20 Minutes
Baking time: 25-30 Minutes
175g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
175g Caster Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1tsp Baking Powder
200g Plain Flour
3tbsp Strong Black Coffee (Cold)
100g White Chocolate (Grated or very finely chopped)

For the coffee icing
100g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
200g Icing Sugar (Sifted)
1tbsp Strong Black Coffee (Cold)
1tsp Cocoa Powder (For dusting)

We begin by preheating the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease a 12 cup muffin tray and place a little disc of baking paper in the base of each cup. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and the sugar, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift in the baking powder with the flour, then add the coffee and mix together to a smooth batter. Finally, fold through the grated white chocolate. Fill each cup evenly with the batter and bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes, until each cake has risen and a metal skewer can be cleanly removed when inserted into the middle of one of the cakes. When you are happy they are cooked remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 20 minutes. To remove the cakes from the tin, run a flat bladed knife around the edge of each cake, then gently coax them from their cups. Peel the baking paper from the base of each cake and place on a wire rack until cool.

For the icing cream together the remaining butter and icing sugar. Add the coffee and mix until smooth and silky. Spread the icing over the top of each cake and finish with a light dusting of cocoa powder. These won't last too long, partly because they are a light sponge, but mainly because they are so downright irresistible!

Friday, 14 June 2013

Orange and Cashew Sugar Cookies

The only thing better than a cup of leaf tea is a cup of leaf tea accompanied by something scrumptiously saccharine. These little sugar cookies are quite lovely served alone, but are practically perfect when paired with a piping hot cup of tea or coffee. Crisp and biscuity on the outside with a slightly chewy centre they can be made with a variety of different nuts. I have used creamy cashews, which I think work beautifully with a little orange zest, but almond and lemon or hazelnut and vanilla are just two of the countless combinations at your disposal. Oh and you should get about 24 little bite-sized cookies out of the mixture.

Prep time: 10 Minutes
Baking time: 12-14 Minutes
300g Cashews (Ground as finely as you can)
250g Caster Sugar
The zest of 2 Oranges
2 Large Egg Whites

Let's begin. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line two large baking sheets with baking paper. Mix together the cashews, sugar and zest, then in a separate large mixing bowl whisk the egg whites until creamy in colour and frothy. Fold through the mixed dry ingredients, until you are left with a sticky dough. Break off a small amount of the dough, roll into a little ball then press out between your hands into a round. Place on the baking paper and repeat for the rest. As I mentioned above you should get about 24 out of the mixture, 12 on each tray evenly spaced apart (They will spread a little during baking). Bake in the centre of the oven for around 12-14 minutes, until golden brown then remove and leave on the tray for 15 minutes, so they can firm up. Peel each cookie from the paper and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. That's the work done, now time to enjoy them!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

My Baking Month

Here are just some of the results of my recent baking adventures. Most of the recipes are on the blog, but if you have any questions or comments then please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Sunshine Shortcakes

I adore the gentle radiance that early summer brings. Almost at once the world becomes resplendent, with unclouded skies, warm days and cool soothing evenings. We all know it won't last, but even now as I stare wistfully out into the rain that has greeted me this morning I still feel inspirited at the thought of more sun to come.

These individual shortcakes are a wonderfully indulgent treat, perfect both as an accompaniment to an afternoon tea or coffee in the sunshine or as a remedy to the grey, devitalizing days we are all too familiar with. With sweet fruity jam and velvety vanilla cream enveloped in two light, crumbly and sugary biscuits, the pleasure you and your guests will take in devouring them belies their simplicity. I encourage you to be generous with your fillings, but as always you are free to experiment with a variety of combinations. Buttercream, fresh fruit, lemon/orange curd, even ice cream are certainly worth trying, although maybe not all together!

Prep time: 20 Minutes
Baking time: 12 Minutes
250g Self Raising Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
1/2tsp Salt
100g Unsalted Butter (Cut into cubes)
2 Egg Yolks (Beaten)
50ml Milk
2tsp Melted Unsalted Butter (For brushing)
Caster sugar (For dusting)

For the filling
250ml Double Cream
1tsp Vanilla Extract
300g Jam (I used raspberry)

Begin by sifting the flour into a large mixing bowl with the baking powder. Add the salt, then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, with no large lumps of butter left. Tip in the sugar and mix briefly with a wooden spoon, then pour in the egg yolks along with the milk and mix to combine. Once the mixture starts to come together use your hands to bring it to a soft dough. Tip the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and loosely knead the dough (pulling and folding the dough) for one minute until smooth. Shape into a ball and return to your mixing bowl for 20 minutes. 

Whilst the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7 and line two large baking sheets with baking paper. Dust a clean, dry surface with flour along with a rolling pin. Place the dough onto the floured surface and roll out, about 75mm thick, then using a 68mm pastry cutter cut into rounds. Place each round, evenly spaced onto your baking paper (you should get about 16 in total out of the mixture). You can re-roll the dough if necessary, but just remember to make sure the surface is still floured and the dough is shaped back into a smooth ball before rolling and cutting again. Lightly brush each biscuit with a little melted butter and bake in the centre of the oven four around 12 minutes, until the biscuits have risen slightly and are golden brown. When you are happy they are cooked, remove from the oven and leave for around 20-30 minutes, then carefully peel each from the paper and leave to cool completely.

When the biscuits are cool you can proceed with the filling. Pour the cream into a bowl with the vanilla extract and whip until thick. Take eight of the cooled biscuits and upturn onto you serving plate. Use the least attractive eight (if there are any!) as these will be on the bottom. Spread the jam onto each of the biscuits, taking care not damage or break them. On the other eight, spread the thick cream onto the bottom of each and sandwich with the jammy bases, gently pressing to secure. Dust each finished shortcake all over with caster sugar and they are ready to serve. Hooray!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Lemon Syrup Cake

Even a little sunshine is a wonderful thing and brings with it the promise of summer holidays, trips to the beach, picnics and other pleasures. I think I love this time of the year more than any other, with cool mornings and balmy late afternoons and I can almost feel my spirit warm as I bask in the suns gentle radiance. Despite this I still cannot be torn from my kitchen for too long and have (admittedly rather lazily) come up with with this simple lemon cake recipe. Light and crumbly, yet moist and syrupy it is both a perfectly piquant accompaniment to the summer sunshine and a fine way to illuminate your day when the skies inevitably grey once more. As a soft sponge it won't keep for too long, although if your friends and family are like mine that won't be an issue. However if you do find yourself with any leftover you can easily turn it into delicious cake balls by crumbling the remaining cake into a large mixing bowl, adding a couple of tablespoons of butter icing, mixing and shaping into balls. They are wonderful little lunch box treats and a great way of using up a variety of sponge cakes.

Prep time: 15 Mins
Baking time: 40-45 Mins
175g Unsalted Butter (Softened)
175g Caster Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1tsp Lemon Extract
The zest of 3 Unwaxed Lemons
175g Self Raising Flour
1tsp Baking Powder

For the lemon syrup
50ml Lemon Juice
50g Golden Syrup

Fortunately, this cake requires only minimal effort. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4, grease a 20cm deep loose bottomed tin and line the base with baking paper. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar, before beating in the eggs one at a time along with the lemon extract and lemon zest. Sift in the flour with the baking powder, mix until evenly combined then spoon into your prepared tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 40-45 minutes, until golden on top and a metal skewer can be cleanly removed when inserted in the middle of the cake. When you are happy the cake is cooked remove from the oven and set to one side whilst you prepare the syrup.

Add the lemon juice and golden syrup to a small saucepan and turn the heat up high. Bring the boil and leave to bubble away for around 2 minutes, before removing from the heat and stir to ensure the juice and syrup are thoroughly combined. Carefully remove the hot cake from the tin and place on a wire rack. Pierce the top of the cake all over with a cocktail stick or metal skewer then brush over about half of the hot syrup. Leave for two minutes, until the syrup has soaked in, the brush over the remaining syrup. Leave the cake on the wire rack until cool before slicing, serving and savouring!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Custard Filled Choux Balls

With summer holiday season fast approaching I thought it pertinent to post a recipe that will give you more of a workout than most. These little choux pastry buns are delicious luxury mouthfuls, but their creation is not without a little effort. It is important to beat the batter with vigour and vitality, so so prepare to feel the burn, push the envelope and, well you get the idea. Fortunately your industry will soon be rewarded with light and airy choux balls that you can fill and top with whatever you deem appropriate. I have used custard and icing sugar, but I hear stuffing them with whipped cream and drizzling with melted chocolate is also quite popular!

Prep time: 25 Mins
Baking time: 30-35 Mins
100ml Water
100ml Milk
75g Unsalted Butter (Cut into cubes)
1/2tsp Salt
1/2tsp Caster Sugar
115g Plain Flour
2 Large Eggs (Beaten)
Icing sugar (to dust)

For the filling and icing
300g Custard (I use ready made custard, there I've said it)
125g Icing Sugar
1tbsp Cold Water

If you have finished a thorough warm up, then we are ready to begin. Tip the water and milk into a medium saucepan, add the butter and place on a medium heat. Meanwhile mix together the flour, salt and sugar. When the butter has melted and steam is rising from the mixture (you don't want it to boil), turn the heat down to its lowest setting. Add the flour and beat vigorously on the heat. The mixture will start off lumpy but quickly come together to a dough. After about 1 minute of mixing tip the dough into a large mixing bowl and continue beating for a further 1-2 minutes, until the dough is cool enough to touch. Add one of the beaten eggs and continue beating. Initially it will seem like the egg won't combine with the thick dough, but keep mixing and it will eventually come together. Add the second egg and do the same, until you are left with a smooth batter.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a large baking sheet with baking paper. Now with regards to the shaping of the choux balls, you can use a piping bag, piping a blob of the mixture evenly spaced onto the baking sheet. However, if you have no piping equipment, or (like me) piping skill then you can shape a spoonful of the mixture between two dessert spoons before easing off onto the tray. You can expect a more 'rustic' finish using this method, although I actually think this way the finished balls have more character and charm. Oh and you should get between 15-20 out of this quantity of mixture.

Dust each of the balls with a little icing sugar, leave for 1 minute, then repeat. Place the balls into the centre of the oven and bake for around 30-35 minutes, until the balls have risen and are golden brown. When you are happy they are cooked remove and leave on the tray for 15 minutes before transferring each to a wire rack until cool.

Once they are cool you can fill and ice them. For this, you can use a piping bag, although I personally use a dosing syringe I picked up from the chemist! Make a little hole with a skewer or needle in the base of each ball, before filling with the custard. They will take a surprising amount of filling! Invert each ball onto your serving plate. Sift the icing into a bowl, then add the water and mix until smooth and glossy. Drizzle all over the finished balls and your work(out) is complete!