The perfect eclair (foolproof recipe)

by admin
Eclair process

This is the only eclair recipe you will ever need! A foolproof eclair recipe that finally works!

Have you ever experienced making flat or soggy eclairs? Or having huge cracks all over the surface? You might have tried all the recipes that claim the ‘perfect eclair’, and still ended up with flat, sad looking ones? Never again!

Here you have everything you need to know about how to make the perfect French patisserie style looking eclairs in your home kitchen! My foolproof eclair tutorial will guide you through the recipe step by step so you can enjoy this delicate French dessert every time you fancy a vanilla or chocolate eclair.

Mastering eclair is one of the most rewarding skills for a home baker s. You will be able to make these gorgeous French pastries very soon and fill them with endless variety of delicious creams.

What is eclair exactly and what are the typical mistakes?

Choux pastry (eclair, cream puff) is made of a few basic ingredients like sugar, butter, flour, milk and egg however it is important to read and follow the instructions carefully in order to avoid typical mistakes such as 1. cracked surface, 2. soggy inside, 3. flat and deflated eclair 4. no airpocket to fill…  just to name a few.

The result we are looking for is oblong shape pastry which is risen evenly (so no major cracks on the side), holds its shape while baking and has a lovely huge air pocket inside which can be filled with a huge variation of creams.

The most important factors to bake perfectly shaped, evenly risen eclairs are

  • using the right ingredients eg. high protein content bread flour
  • using the right equipment, eg. French star piping nozzle
  • learning the right technique, eg. piping skill
  • finding the right baking temperature: in my oven it is a 170C / 338F

Perfecting eclairs require practise and precision but totally doable for everyone and there is nothing as rewarding as serving your home made eclairs!

Eclair process

My Top 5 Baking Tips for home bakers

  1. Read the recipe carefully including my tips and recommendations on how to avoid and fix typical issues during baking
  2. Avoid using substitutes and changing the recipe unless you are aware of how to fully reformulate the recipe in order to keep the balance in texture as well as flavour. Reducing sugar, replacing egg, using ingredients not on the right temperature etc. will all have an impact on your baking
  3. For consistent, happy baking experience always measure your ingredients with the help of a Digital scale. Cup measurement is provided as an indicative figure only and might be used for less complex and large batch recipes however it is not an appropriate method for more delicate, complex pastries
  4. Did you know that most home ovens can significantly under or oven run? Also, oven temperature hugely drops when opening the oven door therefore it is recommended to always pre-heat the oven above the required baking temperature.
  5. Temperature is so important when it comes to baking and accurate oven temperature is key, can make or break any recipe. Make sure you invest into an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer to avoid under baked, burnt, sad looking desserts

Now let’s start with some important notes regarding the ingredients of this classic eclair recipe

For the choux pastry

  1. Milk: Whole milk is the best, definitely avoid using milk substitutes for this recipe unless you are aware of how to reformulate the recipe
  2. Sugar: This choux dough is made with using simple granulated sugar. While heating the mixture up make sure sugar fully dissolves. If you want to learn about the different types of sugar and how to use them in baking, please read my article in here
  3. Water: Simple tap water is fine. Milk-water ratio in this recipe is 50-50% to start with then if you are more experienced, feel free to play around with different ratios
  4. Salt: An essential ingredient in most of the dessert recipes. Balances flavour and enhances other ingredients, in choux pastry recipe it also contributes to the right texture
  5. Butter: Use always unsalted as you want to be in control of the quantity of the salt. I am using 82% fat content butter in all my recipes. While in most of the recipes butter needs to be on room temperature, this is an exception. Since butter will be heated it is fine to use it straight out of the fridge
  6. Flour: Make sure to use high protein content bread flour to achieve that lovely huge air pocket. It might not be called bread flour in your country, however based on the protein % you will be able to identify the right kind of flour. I am using 13% protein content flour in this recipe. Quite honestly, I got different results with different protein content bread flours too, it is worth experimenting until you find the one you get the best results with. If you want to be a Pro when it comes to deciding what type of flour to use in your baking, please read my article in here
  7. Egg: Room temperature as always
The perfect eclair (foolproof recipe)

Now let’s continue with my top 6 tips to master the technique of making this classic eclair recipe

1. How to cook choux dough for this eclair recipe

  • Eclair is made of a dough called choux that is a cooked dough meaning the butter milk water flour mixture needs to be cooked for approx. 3-5 minutes over medium heat mixing constantly. Make sure you sift flour before adding to the mixture as you want to avoid lumps. This is not optional, you just have to sift it
  • The cooking process is ready when some moist evaporates from the dough, practically when you stick a spoon in the dough, it stays upright. This will take about 3-5 minutes depending on your stove and saucepan and by that time there should be a thin skin formed on the bottom up the saucepan (again depends on the saucepan)
  • Mixing egg in will need somewhat your judgement. Only add a small amount of egg at a time, consistently whisking with an electric hand mixer after each addition. First it might separate but keep whisking and the dough should reach a glossy, pipeable consistency. Please note that depending on the flour you use and how much you “dried” the batter earlier you might need to use slightly more or less egg than it is stated in the recipe
  • The eclair dough is not the type of dough where you can add a bit of this, a bit of that. The steps and their order in the recipe are strict therefore make sure you follow them. For example you can’t add more flour if you realize that you added too much egg. If for some reason you are unhappy with the consistency of your dough and unable to pipe it due to too much egg, please start over again
Eclair process
while cooking the dough it should be a thin skin formed on the bottom up the saucepan

2. How to pipe eclairs

  • As mentioned above, while mixing the egg in you have to take into consideration to mix in as much egg to get a shiny, pipeable consistency. The mixture should not be too firm neither too runny
  • For an even, burst free baking it is important to get rid of any air bubbles before piping. You can achieve this by pressing the air pockets out of the piping bag before piping. Also while moving choux batter into the piping bag make sure you avoid “mixing in” air bubbles
  • For piping eclairs you have to use French star tip , again this is a must for neat looking eclairs. Believe me, you won’t get the same crack free, neat looking result with any other piping nozzle, particularly do not use round piping nozzle
  • Pipe in 45° angle, as evenly as you can. It might look skinny as you pipe but the dough will rise, don’t worry. To be honest, piping eclair requires some practise and once you make 5-10x batches you will be able to pipe the dough much more even and beautiful. Just keep practicing!
  • You might find that after piping there are small peaks at the end of the eclair shape logs, feel free to gently press them down with lightly wet finger tip
Eclair process
Pipe with French star nozzle

3. Silicon baking mat or parchment paper?

None of these! Use Perforated “air” baking mat to bake this eclair recipe! I have been using this equipment for baking tarts and eclairs for more than a year now from a brand called Silikomart and loving it. Thanks to the holes in the mat, the heat spreads evenly throughout the mats’ surface guaranteeing perfect and even baking on the eclairs. Use the Perforated “air” baking mat on top of the oven rack so that the air can circulate properly. If you do not own this wonderful baking equipment it´s worth to consider investing into it or alternatively line a baking tray with parchment but it is just easier and nicer to bake choux pastry with Perforated “air” baking mat. Do not use silicone baking mat for choux as I found that the pastry tends to get wet on silicone.

Eclair process

4. What is the right baking temperature for baking eclairs?

  • Some suggest to start with high baking temperature then decrease for the second half of the baking time. I find even baking temperature works better, supports more even baking and beautiful golden colour. Having said that I like to pre-heat oven to a higher temperature ( 200 C / 392 F) then decrease it to 170 C / 338 F when placing the eclair shape logs in, please see instructions in the recipe
  • If you do not get success with even 170C / 338F baking temp, try baking in higher temp for the first 15 minutes then reduce the temp. Eclair is a delicate matter and you will have to experiment with your own oven
  • Do not open the oven door in the first 30 minutes under any circumstances or they will deflate
  • Make sure you invest into an inexpensive Digital oven thermometer to avoid typical eclair disasters that are caused by inaccurate temp
Eclair process

5. Does it take long to make eclair?

Making this eclair recipe literally takes no time, you will cook the dough for a few minutes, pipe and bake. Easy peasy. However before baking the eclairs, it is a must to freeze the piped dough, this will ensure even rise without cracks. I find it is enough to freeze the dough for 30 minutes while you are heating up the oven but the longer the better, maybe freeze it properly for 1-2hours if you are baking it the first time. Please do not skip this step.

Eclair process

6. Eclair troubleshooting aka why what’s wrong with my eclairs?

Issue No.1. : The piped eclair does not hold its shape

Solution: Your dough sounds too wet, mix in less egg next time

Issue No.2. : My eclairs did not rise in the oven

Solution: Most likely you need to increase the baking temp. Or perhaps the issue is related with issue No.1.: your dough was too wet and get baked more like a pancake without rising properly. Make it less wet next time (less egg)

Issue No.3.: My eclairs deflated after baking

Solution: Most likely your eclairs were not baked well, bake it longer next time

Issue No.4.: My eclairs are having huge cracks on the top

Solution: There are a number of reasons causing cracks on eclairs therefore a number of solutions can be considered. First and foremost, make sure you use French star piping nozzle as with a simple round nozzle almost 100% you will get cracks on the eclair surface. Inappropriate piping technique eg. applying uneven pressure while piping can also cause cracks on the eclair. Truth it, piping skill is something you will have to practise and it will improve over time. Too high oven temp and fan in the oven can also cause cracks on the top, try to find the sweet spot in terms of oven temp, a temp that provides a nice rise but without cracks and do not use fan in the oven.

Issue No.5.: My eclairs are not hollow inside

Solution: Again, there can be a number of issues causing not hollow eclairs. It is either related with issue No.2.: Inappropriate rise – if so you know how to fix it. If you have a nice rise on your eclairs but they are not hollow enough inside then most likely your flour has not enough protein. Even if you use bread flour, try a few different ones eg. 12, 13, 14% protein content and stick to the one that gives the best result.

Filling ideas for this eclair recipe

Check my vanilla, chocolate and coffee pastry cream recipe in here! They are silky, creamy, buttery, the most delicious pastry cream ever!

Vanilla cream
Chocolate cream
coffee cream
coffee cream

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Now let’s see this foolproof ECLAIR RECIPE!

Eclair process

The perfect eclair recipe

5 from 12 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Waiting time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 321kcal

Ingredients

For the choux bun

  • 60 g Unsalted butter
  • 60 g Water
  • 60 g Whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Granulated sugar
  • 70 g Bread flour high protein content flour, eg. 13%
  • 110 g Egg

US customary cup measurement is an indicative figure only. Measure the ingredients with a digital scale by weight (gram). Baking is art but also science which requires precision and accuracy.

Instructions

  • Sift flour then measure and set aside
  • Place butter, water, milk, salt and sugar into a saucepan over medium heat
  • As soon as the mixture starts to boil remove from heat, add the flour in one go and whisk vigorously with a Rubber spatula until it forms one smooth ball and flour bits are not visible
  • Place the saucepan back to the stove and cook the dough for 3-5 min over medium heat mixing constantly. There should be a thin skin formed on the bottom up the saucepan
  • Transfer the dough into a bowl and let it cool down slightly before mixing the egg in. Only add a small amount of egg at a time, consistently whisking after each addition. You should reach a consistency which is not too runny, not too firm but just fine to pipe. The exact quantity of egg will need somewhat your judgement
  • With a French star nozzle tip pipe 6 equal size eclairs on Perforated "air" baking mat leaving enough space in between them as they will puff. Optionally dust with icing sugar, that also helps to avoid cracks. Place the tray into the freezer for 30 min at least
  • Pre-heat oven to 200 C / 392 F (no fan)
  • Lower oven temperature to 170 C / 338 F (no fan) and bake the eclairs for 40 min. Do not open the oven door in the first 30 min. If you are baking it the first time it is a good idea to take one eclair out of the oven at 40 min and check its consistency. If it is golden in colour, nicely puffed up, does not deflate on room temperature and the middle of the eclair is not raw (it is ok if it's a bit wet, it will dry while cooling down) then it is considered to be done
  • Cool either on the perforated air mat or if baked on parchment then cool them on cooling rack
  • Fill with chocolate, vanilla of coffee pastry cream. Use my recipes in here

Notes

 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 321kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 146mg | Sodium: 109mg | Potassium: 103mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 654IU | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @spatuladesserts or tag #spatuladesserts would love to see your creation on Instagram!

The perfect eclair (foolproof recipe)

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21 comments

Janet September 4, 2020 - 2:57 pm

5 stars
your recipe for caramelized banana cake is spectacular !!. I loved its flavor, the texture, the sweetness of the fesco caramel !, everything !. it was a total success.
I am happy with the support you do to the world with your recipes! I did it two days ago and I already have orders from her!
Thank you very, very much for generating opportunities on the other side of the world to be able to work with different things at this time.

Reply
Reem September 5, 2020 - 6:59 pm

Thank you so much for detailing I love your effort on this recipe I didn’t tried before bread flour in choice before I think this why didn’t success with me perfectly..💕💕

Reply
admin September 6, 2020 - 9:11 am

Oh yes high protein content bread flour makes the difference when it comes to how hollow your choux is. Try it with that and never give up, it is worth practising :)

Reply
Fazla September 15, 2020 - 4:19 pm

We dont have bread flour in srilanka.can we use all purpose flour or cake flour

Reply
admin September 15, 2020 - 5:28 pm

It might not be called bread flour but if you check my flour guide in here you will be able to identify what flour to chose out of the available options based on their protein content https://www.spatuladesserts.com/the-different-types-of-flour-and-how-to-use-them-in-baking/

Reply
Gloria Pai September 27, 2020 - 6:21 pm

5 stars
The recipe is just perfect. The only things I had to change were the oven temperature, since it’s a small De Longhi oven so I set it to 150 °C for 30 min. Also, I added 50 grams more of egg to the dough. I guess it has to do with the type of the flour I used. Anyway, I managed to make the eclairs and they came out perfect!!

Reply
admin September 29, 2020 - 5:54 pm

Thanks for baking my eclair recipe I wonder though why the extra 50g egg was needed. I assume either the flour or the dry out process must have been very different from mine. Regardless, I am happy you enjoyed it:)!

Reply
Hiba October 10, 2020 - 5:21 pm

5 stars
Amazing recipe, turned out perfectly in terms of taste and shape and it is super easy (after practice and trying and failing many times with different recipes of course). Definitely will do it again soon.

Reply
Subhani Salih October 21, 2020 - 2:54 am

5 stars
Super. Very informative.

Reply
admin October 21, 2020 - 4:33 pm

Thank you, eclairs need special care and an informative recipe :)

Reply
Kay Docrat November 1, 2020 - 8:16 pm

Thanks for sharing your recipes and all the detailed tips. I’ve always made eclairs, but following your tips they came out perfect 👌
Ready to try another recipe

Reply
admin November 3, 2020 - 4:52 pm

So happy for your eclair success!

Reply
Yogyata Batra November 3, 2020 - 7:39 am

Firstly I have to complement Katalin for answering all of my questions and doubts so promptly. Thank you so much. Out of my ‘research’ to make eclairs, I took recipes of 5 master chefs and filled them to the T. Then I came across her recipe and decided to go for it. I tried it 3 times and I was so pleased with the results. I shared my entire choux journey with her. Thank you for such a fool proof recipe. Can wait to try your other creations as well. Keep at it 🌸

Reply
admin November 3, 2020 - 4:50 pm

Thanks for your kind feedback, keep practicing and never give up:)

Reply
Lorenzo Maraucci November 24, 2020 - 9:47 am

5 stars
This is a good recipe, if you follow everything carefully and correctly the final result is going to be amazing 🤩.

Reply
admin November 25, 2020 - 9:37 am

So happy your eclair turned out nice! Thanks for the fedback!

Reply
Mariam December 30, 2020 - 8:19 am

Thank you fo this recipe. My first time making these, why did mine lose their star shape once baked?

Reply
admin December 31, 2020 - 3:15 pm

Hey hard to say based on this small amount of information, pls DM me on my Insta and I am happy to help!

Reply
Judit Suranyi January 16, 2021 - 6:57 am

5 stars
Perfecr recipe and description. Thanks a lot!

Reply
Elena Petrisor January 17, 2021 - 5:45 pm

5 stars
Thank you for sharing your recipes with us. I’ve always make eclairs But following your tips they came out perfectly . Also I’ve tried your recipes for coffee , vanilla and chocolate pastry cream and I was very happy with the results . And the home made caramel was divine
Thank you

Reply
Subhani Salih February 25, 2021 - 6:55 pm

5 stars
thank u for the Eclair Recipe with Total Care

Reply

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