Strawberry Clan.... a term that is used in Taiwan to refer to those precious youth born in the 80's into small single child families. This is a generation that is born into a relatively affluent society where the pressure on survival and living is not as prevalent as during the more tumultous times experienced by our parents or grandparents. This generation generally demonstrates lower threshold for hardship and setbacks.. they bruise easily at the slightest pressure and wilt quickly in adverse conditions... fragile creatures that don't last well.... just like Strawberries!
I now fully appreciate the analogy. I had gushed about the strawberries I ate in Korea last week.... pretty, garnet ingots that were bursting with sweet flavours. When I raved about the strawberries to L over messenger, he was skeptical. I can't quite blame him, for indeed most of the imported strawberries we get in Singapore/ Malaysia are mild in taste at best and unappealingly sour as they get worse.... The Wednesday morning I was to leave for the airport, I bought 2 punnets of the ruby red fruit, taking care to choose the less ripened ones so that they would last a little longer. The store assistant was quite adamant that they wouldn't be able to last till Saturday - I foolishly chose to ignore her believing that my super intelligent Panasonic fridge would be able to preserve the fruits well. True enough, when I took them out today, I can already spot wilting signs on the pock-marked berries.... a touch of yellow on the calyx, a small smudgy bruise at the tip....
Now I understand why the strawberries we import are usually tasteless... to ensure that they travel well, they must have been harvested before they have a chance to fully develop the sweetness in them...
As I wondered what to do with the strawberries, I had been reluctant to pulp or puree these gorgeous fruits. I had wanted to keep the fruits intact without processing them too much. 2 options came into mind : a strawberry cheesecake topped with fresh strawberries and/or a strawberry choux cream puff. I woke up this morning knowing that I no longer have the luxury to dither and opted for the very basic choux puff pastry and vanilla pattiserie cream. The whole puff was light and refreshing. I had deliberately chosen the butter free pattiserie cream from Bourke Street Bakery's Berry Tart. This was easy to prepare and the simple vanilla custard allowed the strawberries to take center stage.
As I looked at the cream puff photos, I realised there was something 'bare' about them... then it hit me... I should have dusted a little powder sugar over the puffs... well, nothing's perfect but I am contented.
Choux Puff Pastry
All Purpose Flour 30g
Bread Flour 30g
Unsalted Butter 40g (cubed)
Castor Sugar 2g
Pastry Cream (Please refer here)
1. Preheat oven to 200C.
2. In a heavy saucepan, place water, sugar, salt and butter. Heat until butter is melted and mixture just starts to boil.
3. Remove from heat and add flour. Using a spatula blend flour with butter liquid until a dough is formed and is well mixed.
4. Return dough in saucepan to heat. Continue heating and stirring dough to evaporate moisture.
5. Continue heating dough until dough becomes sticky and forms a thin membrane at the bottom of saucepan.
6. Remove from heat and bit by bit , add beaten eggs into warm dough and mix until well combined.
7. Using a piping bag fitted with a 1cm round piping tip, pipe 3 small rounds side by side on to a baking sheet.
8. Lightly brush the dough mounds with egg wash. (or mist lightly with water spray)
9. Bake at 200C for 30mins. Cool completely and split 'eclair puff ' horizontally.
10. Pipe in custard (pastry cream) and garnish with strawberries.