Religieuses au Café: French Pastry for Bakers
Despite their amazing taste, the religieuses au café have recently been looked over by bakery lovers because they are not as easy to eat on the go as choux or éclairs are. You can even find specialized pastry boutiques in Paris, such as Popelini or l’éclair de Genie.
The name means”nun” in French and is derived from the pastry’s appearance – a striking resemblance to a nun in a habit. The choux pastry involved is one of the 10 different pastry doughs commonly used in French baking – not to be confused with puff pastry. Created in 1855 and still enjoyed today, la religieuse is a delectable treat you’re sure to love.
Religieuses au Café – Coffee Nuns
- Sugar thermometer, saucepan, piping bags, filling nozzles, stand mixer, baking sheets, wooden spatula, mixing bowls, pastry brush, whisk
For the choux pastry
- 8 oz Water
- 1/3 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 4.4 oz Butter
- 5.3 oz Flour
- 4 Eggs + 1 yolk for the egg wash
For the coffee custard cream:
- 3 cups Whole Milk
- 5.3 oz Powdered Sugar
- 3 large Eggs + 1 yolk
- 3 oz Cornflour
- Vanilla Powder or a vanilla bean
- Coffee Extract
For the coffee buttercream decoration:
- a splash of Water to moisten the sugar
- 100 g Sugar
- 125 g Butter
- 1 Egg
- Coffee Extract
For the coffee fondant*:
- 3.5 oz Sugar
- 2.6 oz Water
- .8 oz Glucose
- Coffee Extract
- The day before, make the coffee fondant.
- Cook the sugar, the water, and the glucose at 114°C (235°F), measuring with a sugar thermometer. Place the mixture in a stand mixer and mix until it cools and whitens, then add in the coffee extract.
- Then, place the new mixture in a bowl covered in plastic wrap, and keep it in the refrigerator overnight.
- On the day of, make the coffee custard cream.
- Cut 1 vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. Place the cornflour and powdered sugar in a saucepan. Pour in the fresh whole milk while turning the mixture with a whisk.
- Add in the rest of the vanilla bean and the seeds and bring the mixture to a boil, while continuing to whisk it. Sprinkle with a bit of milk, all the while continuing to whisk.
- Once the mixture reaches a boil, remove it from heat. Remove the vanilla bean and pour the cream into a bowl. Next, place your bowl into a container full of ice cubes.
- When the cream is lukewarm, roughly 50° C (122°F), add in the butter and the coffee extract, whisking the mixture vigorously.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F ).
- Make the choux pastry. Place the water, the salt, the sugar, and the butter in a saucepan. Once it reaches a boil, remove it from the heat. Add in the sifted flour.
- Next, put the saucepan back onto the heat, and stir it well for several minutes until you obtain a homogenous dough. Once you reach the right texture, remove the saucepan from the heat, and incorporate the eggs one by one. Cover with 2 baking sheets.
- Put the mixture in a piping bag with a round nozzle. On a baking sheet, pipe small choux for the heads, and larger choux for the bases, making sure to space them a few centimetres apart so that they do not stick together while they are baking.
- With a brush, brown them with the egg, and leave them in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
- When they are done, cool them on a wire rack.
- Make the buttercream. Pour the water into a small saucepan and add the powdered sugar, and bring to a boil over low heat. Cook the syrup at 120°C (250°F), measuring with a sugar thermometer.
- While you wait for it to heat, crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk in a stand mixer until they become white.
- When the syrup is ready, pour in the eggs (making sure to maintain a thin stream as you pour), beating the mixture at a low speed. Continue to beat the mixture until it has reached room temperature once again.
- Next, add in the softened butter while the mixer continues to whisk, then add in the coffee extract. When the cream is smooth and homogeneous, place it in the refrigerator.
- Construct the religieuses (nuns). Fill the choux with the coffee custard cream: place the tip of the piping bag with the round nozzle inside the bottom of each choux.
- Then gently squeeze the bag to fill the bun with cream, gradually removing the nozzle. Be careful not to squeeze the piping bag too hard. Otherwise, the choux buns could burst.
- Soften the fondant icing in a saucepan over a low heat.
- Cover the choux with the coffee fondant: take one choux bun with your fingers and carefully dip it in the hot coffee icing. Let the icing excess drip off and wipe with your finger.
- Put the small choux on top of the large one, then add the buttercream into another piping bag with a star/fluted tip (douille cannelée).
- Squeeze the piping bag gently to create a regular ruffle all around the large choux.