Around 20 buns
Approx. 35 minutes
"I remember my mum making choux buns when I was a child. At the time it seemed like the most complicated and accomplished thing I had ever seen. Filled with a vanilla crème pâtissière and piled up into a big mountain, they were something that we would only have for very special occasions. Years later, I came to realise that they're not actually that difficult to make and they are a lovely treat when a big cake might seem too much."
The choux buns I have made are filled with a lemon cream and are perfect for a Spring table because they are so light. Dusted with icing sugar and some lemon zest, they even look sunny!
With a sharp knife, split the vanilla pod into half and scrape out the seeds. Combine the flour, sugar and eggs and whisk until creamy and pale. Pour the milk into a pan and add the vanilla seeds. Heat the milk until boiling and then turn immediately off.
Now, whilst continuously whisking (!!!), slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture.
Pour the whole mixture back into the pan and, on a low heat, slowly warm up the cream whilst stirring it all the way through.
As soon as the cream has thickened enough to coat the back a wooden spoon, turn the heat off. Grate the lemon zest into the cream, stir and leave to cool down.
To make the choux buns, preheat your oven to 200C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Put the water, butter, sugar and salt into a pan and bring just about to the boil. Turn off the heat.
Add the sieved flour all in one go and beat with a wooden spoon until you have something of a dough ball.
Now add the eggs one at a time and vigorously whisk between the two eggs. Keep whisking until you have a smooth paste. Fill the paste into a piping bag.
Pipe the paste onto the baking tray leaving enough room between each dollop for the buns to puff up. Put in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or golden.
Take the buns out of the oven and put them on a rack to cool.
Once they're cooled down, put the now cold lemon cream into a piping bag with a small nozzle.
Find "the weakest point" (where the choux bun is particularly thin) on the bun and stick the nozzle in to pipe the cream into the bun.
Dust with some icing sugar and some lemon zest for presentation.
That's it. Not so complicated, is it? You can serve these with coffee or a cup of Earl Grey. I hope you and your guest will like these.