150 g plain flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
75 g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes, plus more for the tray
75 ml milk, plus a splash extra
4 eggs, 3 lightly beaten and 1 yolk only
400 ml double cream, whipped with 2 tbsp icing sugar
5 strawberries, hulled and sliced
freeze-dried strawberry slices, crushed, to decorate (optional)
2 big or 4 small strawberries
200 g icing sugar
- Heat the oven to 180C/fan. Sift the flour into a bowl. Put the sugar, butter and milk in a pan with 125ml water and bring to the boil. Take the pan off the heat, pour in the flour and beat the mixture until it turns into a smooth, thick panade (pastry dough) that comes away from the side of the pan. Tip this into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat it for a couple of minutes to cool it down a bit, otherwise the eggs might cook when you add them.
- Add the whole eggs, gradually (the mixture should be thick enough to hold it’s shape so you may not need all the egg) beating all the time, don’t worry if the mixture looks as if it has split, it will come back. Scrape the mix into a piping bag fitted with a plain round nozzle about 1½ cm wide and pipe éclairs about 12cm long onto your baking sheet, spacing them well apart. Beat the yolk with a splash of milk and paint a wide stripe of egg wash down the top of each éclair.
- Bake for 50 minutes or until the éclairs are completely dry, the best way of checking is to cut one in half horizontally when you think they are done. If they are still soggy they will collapse when they cool. Cool completely.
- To make the icing, squash the strawberries and add a couple of tbsp icing sugar and mash everything together well, leave it for 5 minutes. Push the lot through a fine sieve and use this base to add more icing sugar to, and as much water as you need to make a thick icing that will stay on the top of the éclairs without running off.
- Halve the éclairs horizontally. Dip the lids, top-down, in the icing and put them cut-side down to dry. If your icing is thin, double or triple dip until it looks thicker. Spoon the whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a wide nozzle and then pipe a strip of cream along each base. Arrange a layer of overlapping strawberry slices on top and then pipe on a couple of small dots of cream to help lid stay on. Repeat with all the éclairs and then put a lid on each. Sprinkle with dried strawberries, if you like.