65g (2¼ oz) butter, cut into cubes (¼ cup, or ½ stick)
70g (2½ oz) plain/cake and pastry flour (½ cup)
2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), lightly beaten
For the filling
300ml (10 fl oz) double/whipping cream or heavy cream (1¼ cups)
14g (½ oz) caster/white sugar (1 tbsp)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
285–340g (10–12 oz) strawberries (1 pint punnet, or about 2 cups)
icing/powdered sugar for dusting
You will also need a large baking sheet, lined with parchment paper
For the choux buns
Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F) (gas 7).
First, sift the flour onto a piece of kitchen paper or parchment paper.
Now measure the butter into a small heavy-based pan and add 150ml (5 fl oz) (⅔ cup) of cold water. Melt the butter over a medium heat and then bring the mixture quickly to the boil. Immediately remove from the heat and tip in the flour, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon to combine. Now cook this over a low heat for 3–5 minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture will form a soft ball. Remove from the heat, transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl, and leave to cool slightly, about 3 minutes.
Using an electric whisk, gradually add the eggs, whisking well between each addition, until a smooth, shiny paste is reached. (Using an electric whisk will allow air to be incorporated into the mixture as the eggs are added.)
Pipe or spoon eight mounds onto the lined tray, spacing well apart. Bake in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5) and cook for a further 15–20 minutes. The buns should be a lovely golden brown.
Remove from the oven and pierce a small slit into each choux bun, using a small sharp knife, to allow the steam to escape. Return them to the oven for 4–5 minutes for the centres to dry out.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Then halve each bun, cutting at an angle, and remove any uncooked pastry. They are now ready to be filled.
For the filling
Whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla extract together until soft peaks form.
Wash, hull and thickly slice the strawberries. Pat dry and then gently fold into the cream.
Remove the tops of the choux buns and fill them with the strawberries and cream. Put their tops back and then dust over with the icing/powdered sugar, using a small sieve.
These are best eaten within a few hours. Once filled with the cream mixture, the pastry will tend to soften.
2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), well beaten
For the crème pâtissière
200ml/7fl oz full-fat milk/whole milk
50g/2 oz caster sugar/fine white sugar
2 egg yolks, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
20g/¾ oz cornflour/cornstarch
20g/¾ oz butter, cut into small pieces
For the icing
225g/8 oz icing sugar
5 tsp boiling water
Two nylon piping bags, one fitted with a plain 1cm/½ inch nozzle for piping the choux pastry and the other with a long thin nozzle for filling the éclairs.
A large baking sheet
For the choux pastry
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
The ingredients need to be measured out first.
Put the water in a pan together with the butter and put to one side.
Next weigh out the flour and sieve onto a piece of parchment paper with the sugar. Set to one side. Using the parchment paper like a funnel will allow the flour to be tipped into the melted butter very quickly.
Now, place the pan of water and butter over a moderate heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter has melted and the mixture comes to the boil. The pan needs to be removed from the heat as soon as the mixture boils to prevent too much evaporation of the water. Holding the paper like a funnel, immediately tip in the flour and sugar. Beat vigorously with the wooden spoon or use a hand held electric whisk. Keep beating until the mixture has become a smooth ball of paste that has left the sides of the pan clean.
Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, beating well between each addition until the paste has become smooth and glossy.
Lightly grease a baking sheet and then sprinkle on a little cold water. This will create steam and will help the choux pastry rise.
Spoon the pastry into the piping bag and pipe eight, 7.5cm/3 inch lengths, onto the baking sheet.
Bake the éclairs on a high shelf for 10 minutes, then increase the temperature to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7 and bake for a further 8–10 minutes until lightly golden.
Remove to a wire rack and gently make a small hole with a skewer in the side of each éclair to allow any steam to escape. This will prevent them from becoming soggy. Leave to cool completely.
For the crème pâtissière
Pour the milk into a pan and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat.
Put the sugar, egg yolks and cornflour/cornstarch in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Pour a little of the hot milk onto the mixture, whisking continuously to loosen the mixture a little. Then gradually pour in the remaining hot milk and whisk until smooth. Return to the pan and, over a low heat, cook the mixture, stirring continuously, until it thickens.
Remove from the heat and beat in the butter until it has melted. Leave to cool, covering the surface with cling film to prevent a skin forming on the top. Refrigerate to chill.
Once chilled, spoon into the piping bag fitted with the long thin nozzle. Using the hole that was made with the skewer, carefully fill the éclairs with the crème pâtissière.
For the icing
Measure the boiling water into a small bowl and sift in the icing sugar. Beat well to mix. The icing should be stiff. More water or sifted icing sugar can be added to achieve the right consistency.
Cover the top of the éclairs with the icing and smooth with a palette knife.