When a food critic turns the poison pen on herself

Easy cream puffs March 25, 2009

Filed under: Pastry — crummb @ 4:59 pm
Tags: ,


The other day, I was at the Malay stall in my office canteen when I saw something that made me snigger in the way movie villains do — with eyes squinted to a slit as I smiled a slow, evil smile.

But first, a bit of background. This Malay stall has been the reason that I’m known to be a bit of a weirdo in my workplace: I actually quite like the canteen food. Every lunchtime, my colleagues would dive across the road to eat at the foodcourt or coffeeshop opposite, or hop into a cab towards a nearby shopping mall — basically to flee in terror of the culinary offerings on our 7th floor. But not me.

I love the nasi padang at the Malay stall. I love its yummy sambal goreng, beef rendang, potato wedges with ikan bilis, sambal sotong, stir-fried green beans, tahu goreng, and a mee rebus that just can’t be beat. In fact, I credit my daughter E’s ruddy birthweight of 3.66kg to this sumptuous Malay spread, which I ate practically every day when I was pregnant with her.

That’s not all. Every day at around 3pm, the super illustrious stall pours forth a whole different spread for tea time: curry puff, roti john, kueh kueh, hamburgers, samosas, just to name a few. In my mind, the cooks behind this stall are virtual geniuses. Everything they make is just pure gold — until, that is, the day when I cracked that villainous smile.

The stall had just served up cream puffs. And there, on the counter, was a platter of puffs that should be more accurately described as “poofs”. Instead of looking perky and round, they were so flat they looked like they got sat on by an elephant.

Now, I’m not normally the sort who would dance all over other people’s shortcomings. But I had just recently come out of a grand, ego-bruising series of baking disasters, and seeing how even this stellar food stall could create such comical duds not only brought me some relief, I felt downright victorious.

Okay, one of the secrets to making good puffs is using bread flour because, according to Shirley Corriher’s BakeWise, its higher protein content creates a better puff that won’t collapse. This recipe for cream puffs, which I found in a Hong Kong cookbook called Everyday Treats, turned out really well and, yup, it uses bread flour.

But you can bet I won’t share this secret with the Malay stall. Sometimes, you gotta keep things down in order to feel up. *Evil smile*


(Taken from Everyday Treats by Anita @ Jam Bakery)

56g unsalted butter

125g water

106g eggs

70g bread flour

5g sugar

1g salt

1. Place butter, water, sugar and salt into a saucepan and bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring until dissolved.

2. Add in bread flour all at once and stir constantly until the dough is thick and smooth, and comes away from the sides of the pan easily.

3. Remove from heat, and tip dough into a large bowl. Using a hand-held electric beater, whisk dough to release the steam. Stop when the dough is still warm.

4. Add beaten eggs slowly and continue whisking on low speed until smooth. To test for right consistency, put a little dough between your thumb and forefinger. Pull your fingers apart: the dough should stretch, not break apart.

5. Pipe dough into 1-inch buttons on a baking tray. Bake for about 30 minutes on a preheated oven at 200 deg C.

6. When done, prick holes with icing tip at the bottom of each puff, and pipe in whipped cream or pastry cream.


17 Responses to “Easy cream puffs”

  1. wordsmith Says:

    schadenfreude! 🙂
    Your posts always brighten up my day – even though I don’t get to eat those yummy pastries!

  2. Mamalicious Says:

    Looks Yummmmyyyy!!! I’m always inspired to try make all ur pastries cos the recipes looks simple. But I bet mine will be such a disaster whn I do come ard to make them ever..ahahahaha.

  3. crummb Says:

    wordsmith: thank you baybee! but erm, according to Babel Fish, schadenfreude means “harming joy”. huhhh?

    mamalicious: hey, this one is really quite easy! try it! my problem comes when i try to make the pastry cream. it always ends up too watery. but i’ll save that disaster for another blog another day 🙂

  4. daphnechan00 Says:

    oohh YUMMY ! YUMMY !! Schadenfreude = deriving pleasure from the misfortune of others !! haha !

  5. Peh Says:

    You also a “Member” of the Malay stall ah? I love its sardine puff.

  6. crummb Says:

    wordsmith & daphne: i see! i am in the company of linguists 🙂

    mr peh: i just had a sardine puff yesterday! they’re doing pineapple tarts now too. and they beat the crap outta cedele, glory and bengawan solo!! and yes, i am their No. 1 “Member” even though the brudder always give me small portions of rice, topped with that super-fake smile.

  7. cookie Says:

    I read somewhere that over- stirring will result in watery pastry cream. Let me try to find that info 4 u.

  8. wordsmith Says:

    madam teo: I learnt about schadenfreude from AVENUE KEW 🙂 There’s a whole song written about it!

    Now I feel like custard puffs.Am going puff-a-hunting now. Ta!

  9. crummb Says:

    great, thanks. now i gotta look up avenue kew :S

  10. Dapune Says:

    Search ” Avenue Q” yar ! Go on Youtube, the song’s on there too !

  11. Cream puffs were my idea of heaven, until I discovered Churros (A Mexican peasant pastry). But I can’t make churros, and I can make divine creampuffs, and this recipe is great!

  12. crummb Says:

    quinncreative: hey, i have a recipe for churros somewhere (and yes, they are aMAzing!). i shall give it try and blog about it soon 🙂

  13. wordsmith Says:

    ooooh. can i come by when u make churros? You need a special machine to get that shape rite?

  14. redyoyo Says:

    I am so glad to read this thread. I began making cream puffs since couple of weeks ago. Towards my 3rd attempt, I still get just slightly puffed up little balls with some wet mass inside; even though I extend baking time. (The taste is still OK though)

    I make some research on the internet & am sure my technique is correct… until I come across info like this – use BREAD FLOUR instead of all purpose flour. Will definitely try this, I just hope that bread flour is common in Malaysia. Think I am ready to treat & impress my friends!!

  15. crummb Says:

    redyoyo: hello! i’m pretty sure you can find bread flour in Malaysia. i use the brand called Red Man and it says on the back of the packet that it is distributed in malaysia. so all the best! lemme know how it goes 🙂

  16. Ayu Says:

    Wow *_* I love your cream puffs.
    Btw… schadenfreude is German
    daphnechan00’s explanation was absolutely right. ^_^
    schadenfreude = pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others


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