Although a small village, there are only 1200 residents, the shopkeepers in Sablet can provide for the daily needs of the residents and surrounding wineries. There is a butcher, a Vival mini mart, a bank, florist, tabac where you can buy newspapers, magazines and souvenirs, a pharmacy, post office, hair salon, doctor's office, a café, pizzeria, several restaurants and two boulangeries (bakeries).
|Fountain at Place Yvan Audouard|
Pain Medieval is our favorite Sablet bakery and thankfully it's conveniently located just a few steps from our house behind the big trees between the fountain at Place Yvan Audouard and the Vival mini mart. The Pain Medieval Boulangerie is open every day of the week except for Monday and Tuesday.
|Pain Medieval Boulangerie|
Pain Medieval is owned by Jeannine Moulin and her son, Julien Moulin, who does the baking. When the bakery is open, there is often a line out the door and cars double-parked in front with motors running while the owner dashes into the bakery to get a freshly baked baguette or some other baked treats.
|Julien and mom Jeannine Moulin|
Each time another person joins the line of people waiting to buy a freshly baked baguette, the newcomer greets those already in line with "bonjour madame, bonjour monsieur" and will be responded to in a similar fashion. When it's your turn, Madame Moulin will ask what cuisson (baking), you prefer, meaning how golden brown do you want your baguette or croissant to be?
According to Jeannine Moulin, there is a family tradition of working as bakers. She said that at an early age, Julien would ask her father who was also a baker if he could come and watch him work in the bakery. Madame Moulin said she has another son who is a baker in another village.
|Julien Moulin preparing dough for baking|
This past weekend I was reading new posts by favorite bloggers including Camille's post about éclairs on her blog Croque-Camille Food Adventures in Paris. Camille is a pastry chef by trade and in this post she recounted the history of éclairs and what are important characteristics of a good éclair.
Eclairs are made of pâte à choux, a light pastry dough used to make profiteroles, croquembouches, éclairs, cream puffs, gougères and chouquettes among other things. Choux pastry contains only water, butter, flour, and eggs. Instead of a raising agent it employs high moisture content to create steam during baking to puff the pastry.
As I read Camille's post this past Sunday, I was transported to Sablet and Pain Medieval Boulangerie as I pictured the big basket of freshly baked chouquettes that appear every Sunday at the bakery. The chouquettes are feather light, golden brown and topped with pearl sugar; they are sold by weight.
Since it was Sunday, I thought I would make a batch of pâte à choux and bake chouquettes for our grand kids who would be coming over later in the day with their parents to watch the Super Bowl. The recipe by Eric Kayser in Food and Wine magazine is easy and the chouquettes turned out great. They were big hits with the grand kids and parents. Unfortunately, I didn't get a photograph of them with sugar on their face.
Pâte à Choux
Makes about 3 dozen choux puffs
1½ cups water
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
200 grams all-purpose flour (about 1½ cups)
8 large eggs
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large sauce pan, combine the water, butter, sugar, and salt and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a tight dough forms and pulls away from the side of the pan, 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
3. In a bowl, beat the eggs and add to dough in four batches, stirring vigorously between additions until the eggs are completely incorporated and the pastry is smooth. The dough should be glossy and very slowly hang, stretch and fall from the spoon in thick ribbons.
4. Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch plain tip. Pipe 1½-inch mounds onto the baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between the mounds. I found that putting dough into the pastry bag is messy. I drew circles on the parchment paper to guide me as I piped the mounds onto the baking sheet.
|Mounds of choux ready to go into oven|
For the next step, follow the directions for whichever choux you want to make:
Chouquettes Sprinkle each mound with ½ teaspoon pearl sugar (decorating sugar). Bake for 30 minutes, until browned and puffed.
Gougères Divide 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese equally over the mounds. Bake for 30 minutes, until browned and puffed.
Cream Puffs Bake the choux for 30 minutes, until browned and puffed. Let cool completely. Cut each mound in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Fill each one with 2 tablespoons chocolate pastry cream. Replace tops and dust with powdered sugar.
|Baked chouquettes just out of the oven|
Serve your choux the same day you bake them, they won't be nearly as good the next day.
|Chouquettes ready to be served.|
As you can see above, choux pastry is very versatile and can be used for multiple preparations, even in the same meal. For example use half the choux pastry to make gougères for apéritif and the other half for cream puffs or profiteroles.
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Bonne journée mes amis et à bientôt.