Keep Calm and Eat an Eclair
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Saturday, October 07, 2017
By Lydia Irving
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Keep Calm and Eat an Eclair!

 

This week we (lovingly) push macarons to the side to shine the light on a patisserie equally as scrumptious and fabulously French: Eclairs!

These divine creations (or snacks - we don’t judge) may just be coming your way soon, so we thought we’d brush up on our knowledge of these delicious desserts...

So, what is an eclair? In case they have passed you by, an eclair is an oblong shaped choux pastry filled with a creme patissiere and topped with a shiny glaze and fondant icing. Of course, this basic description does not begin to do justice to the great array of flavours available, the options really are limitless as we shall discover later... 

This kind of French patisserie is said to have been a created in the early 1800s by Marie Antonin Careme, a highly esteemed French chef. Poor and homeless at the age of 8, Careme starting baking as a young child to earn his keep in a local kitchen. This livelihood soon turned into his passion, earning him great success as well as allowing him the opportunity to open up a pastry shop of his own. Careme worked for a number of famous dignitaries and royals including George IV of Great Britain, Tsar Alexander I of Russia, and even Napoleon himself!

Originally known as ‘pain a la Duchesse’ in it’s native land, the word ‘eclair’ translates from French to ‘flash of lighting’. Some say this is because of their sparkly glaze, while others say it refers to how quickly they are eaten - in a flash! 

The eclair started it’s life back in the 19th century as a traditional pastry, with simple flavours such as vanilla and chocolate. The choices today are endless! One bakery in Paris (L’Eclair de Genie) boasts luxurious flavours such as Iranian pistachio cream and orange flower water, while another (L’Atelier d’Eclair) features savoury flavours too! From spicy chorizo sausage with tomato to Comté cheese and ham, these eclairs are unlike any other. I like the sound of foie gras and fig elcairs, a flavour combination which sounds so delectable I may have to purchase a Eurostar ticket pronto...

Eclairs have come the way of any fine pastry - from humble origins in the depths of Europe to a multitude of variations, all of equal deliciousness. Remind you of anything else? (Hint: *Macarons*) Baking seems to feature many fads and trends - Cronut, anyone? - but a classic eclair has lasted for centuries and is still enchanting the world today. And if you need any more convincing, why not get into the spirit of French baking by celebrating National Chocolate Eclair Day on June 22nd...

So come on, D’eclair your love for the great eclair today!

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