Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Dinosaurs on Choo Choo Train Choux Pastries

When I received this project, I was really excited because there's endless possibilities to what you can make with choux pastries that hasn't been explored. Presenting my take on dinosaur choux au craquelin on choo choo choux train!

The train and dinos are made up of choux pastries! 

Another view of them! 

This is actually the second time I am making a train out of choux pastry. My very first deco choux was made way back in June 2014, and it was a choo choo train carrying a yummy load of vanilla pastry cream and apple pie filling!

You may refer to this post for the detailed recipe of this rustic looking choo choo train with the yummy goodies. 

I have made the dino gang before and you may refer to this post to have a look. So making the dinos wasn't too big a challenge this time. The train however, involved using some new techniques that I either used before only once or was entirely experimental. So glad everything turned out fine!

You may refer to this post for the detailed recipe of making the choux au craquelin (choux pastry with cookie dough on top) for the dinos.

Just to share the before and after baking photos of the main body parts of the dinos. 

Assembled dinos! I added on the facial details withpink and white royal icing and black candy melts. 

What I really want to share in this post that is new, is how I made the train components. Notice that I didn't use craquelin at all for the train parts so I had to rely on other techniques to create a well defined, non-blobby structure.

I used metal cookie cutters as moulds for baking the chimney and blocky parts of the locomotive.
Metal cookie cutters

I chose red and black as the colours for the train as these can bake at high temperatures of 180C and above for long time without noticeable browning. In order to create pastry cases in the shape of the moulds, place the cookie cutters/moulds on perforated mat and line the sides of the mould with parchment or perforated mat. Fill the moulds till about a third full. Place another piece of perforated mat over and place a heavy tray on top. The last bit is important as the rising pastry may push the tray away, causing it to be out of shape. The black chimney piece was the result of such a happy accident 🤣. I didn't expect the pastry to rise and flatten out into a larger disc above the cylinder block below so nicely! I actually baked 2 cylinders of different sizes, thinking I could stack them for the chimney but this happy accident worked out better!

The flatbeds of the carriages are flat rectangular pieces of choux. I am glad my experiment for making these worked too! The challenge was to make the flatbeds roughly the same width as the locomotive. Piping out the choux batter the usual way will not do as the baked pieces are bound to puff up by a lot. I also only have one mould of a particular rectangle size so it is not practical to bake the flatbeds in the mould. Instead, I rolled out the batter between two teflon sheets (parchment paper will wrinkle) to thickness of about 3-4mm and froze it until firm.

Red batter rolled between teflon sheets. I use these sheets for baking chiffon sheet cakes/swiss rolls. I used a cakeboard as my work surface for ease of transport from worktable to freezer. Try not to deform the rolled out batter

I used the same mould for baking the locomotive to cut out the frozen batter. You need to try and work quickly as once the batter softens, it would not retain the cutout shape well when handled.

Place the cutouts on perforated mat. You will notice that I use perforated mats to bake choux whenever I need the baked cases to have well defined shapes that are similar to the piped batter shape. Bake until dry and crisp. Baking temperature and time for this will vary as each oven is different. 

I did the same for the black batter for the roof of the locomotive. 

I piped out the other small parts like the wheels and the cow catcher.

Piped wheels

Baked pastry cases! 

I used a zester to file the contact surfaces so that they fit together nicely.

Voila! Choo choo choux train! I just glued the parts with royal icing. The locomotive has a hole at the base for filling with pastry cream. 

I made a less chocolatey version (as requested) of chocolate pastry cream lightened with whipping cream (a.k.a. Diplomat cream) for the recipient to fill the cases just before consumption. I always recommend filling pastries just before eating so that you don't have to eat soggy pastry. My recipients never complain about the extra work they have to do to fill the pastry cases themselves because I always provide extra filling and they can always pile up with more filling with each bite of the pastry if they want to, and freeze any excess to eat as ice cream or refrigerate and use it as tart fillings or bread spreads.

Thank God that this creation was very well received! I was told the guests were all amazed by it and everyone happily ate the train and all 9 dinos in one sitting!

With love,
Phay Shing

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