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Ho Ho Holy Hiatus! Hello people, how are you all? I’m not entirely sure what happened for me to take a break but I think it may have been a combination of back to school in September, a super busy time through Autumn, The Great British Bake Off (wasn’t it fab?!) a new member of the family and a general lack of time.

A new member of the family? This is Ozzy. Our lovely old cat Vampyre sadly died in September. We quickly realised we missed cat cuddles and we wanted a new friendly fur baby to join us. Mr. Bake went to the local rescue centre after hearing about some tuxedo kittens and came back with this gorgeous boy (who is a Blue Marbled Bengal!)

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He’s gorgeous and a bundle of fun but has a strong streak of naughty running through him. He’s super sociable though and loves a cuddle. As you’d expect the Juniors love him!

On the baking front I’ve been busy and will post some recipes over the next few weeks. My biggest achievement was getting to grips with choux pastry. I’m not sure why, but I’d decided that it was probably fiendishly difficult to make and was massively surprised at how easy I found it. Afternoon to spare? Give these bad boys a go!

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Ingredients

50g (1 ¾ oz) butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing

75g (2 ½ oz) plain flour

2 large eggs, beaten

300ml (10fl oz) double or whipping cream

100g (3 ½ oz) plain dark chocolate (about 40% cocoa solids) finely chopped

100ml (3 ½ fl oz) double cream

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (fan 200°C/425°/Gas 7). Grease a large baking sheet.
  2. To make the éclair mixture (choux pastry), put the butter in a heavy-based pan with 150ml (5fl oz) water and heat until the butter melts.
  3. Bring to the boil, tip in the flour, then remove from the heat. Stir vigorously.
  4. When a smooth paste develops, return the pan to the heat, stirring. The mixture will dry out a little and form a soft ball that comes away from the sides of the pan.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat again, leave the mixture to cool slightly, then gradually add the eggs, beating really well between each addition until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
  6. Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a 1cm (½ in) plain nozzle.
  7. Sprinkle the baking sheet with water (a water spray with a fine nozzle is good for this). 8. Pipe the mixture onto the baking sheet into 7.5cm (3in) lengths, leaving room between each éclair for them to spread a bit.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190°C (fan 170°C/375°F/Gas 5) and bake for a further 20 minutes.
  9. Split each éclair in half lengthways and transfer to a wire rack to cook completely.
  10. To make the icing put the chocolate and double cream in a heatproof bowl and set it over a pan of gently simmering water, stirring until smooth and shiny.
  11. Remove the bowl from the pan and leave the icing at room temperature for about 30-35 minutes, or until it is cool and thick enough to coat the éclairs without dripping off them.
  12. Once the éclairs have cooled, whip the cream and spoon or pipe it into the bottom half of the éclairs.
  13. Dip the top half of each éclair in the icing, then place on top of the whipped cream.
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