From the kitchens of Fauchon: An insider’s look at building éclair towers
Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I’m back to blogging! I just finished my 3-month stage at Fauchon which was a great experience that filled in some learning gaps. The work that takes place in a restaurant and pâtisserie kitchen is vastly different. Though I loved the adrenaline rush of service time in a restaurant, a pâtisserie kitchen has its highlights too.

I got to watch this gigantic éclair tower-taller than me-being constructed. This was made in the cocktail kitchen which is separate from the boutique kitchen. I only worked in the boutique kitchen and we just make pastries for the shop at Madeleine. The cocktail kitchen is responsible for catering and special events.

The giant cone structure is made of styrofoam, painted with royal icing. Toothpicks (2 per small eclair) are used to stick the éclair to the cone. An assortment of mini éclairs (we call them ‘lunch eclairs’) are prepared the morning of assembly.

Each éclair is decorated with coloured and flavoured pâte d’amande and napage (clear glaze with some edible silver and gold foil). Pâte d’amande (similar to marzipan) is used in contrast to the usual fondant or glaze because it has a more clean finish, it’s more stable and easier to prepare in large quantities as well as for handling. In the picture is Julie, the sous chef of the cocktail kitchen.

And here’s the finished gigantic éclair tower!

In contrast to the above, here are some normal-sized éclair towers that we make more often (about 1-2 per week).

The flavours of the éclairs are citron (yellow), orange, raspberry (red), caramel, chocolate praline, and dark chocolate.

Here is a close-up of the mini éclairs.

Packaged and ready to be sent off!

During my time at Fauchon, I had the chance to make almost everything you see in their boutique. The chefs in our kitchen were quite trusting when it comes to giving you work. Though sometimes I feel there is a lack of direction and it can get a little hectic when there’s two teams in the kitchen at once. Then people start fighting for marble space, tools and scales.

And lastly, due to popular demand, we had to bring back the Rainbow éclair (only available on the weekend). It’s an éclair filled with a pistachio and raspberry cream (in the centre). Back when I visited Fauchon during the weekend eclairs event, I wondered how they were able to pipe two creams while keeping one cream perfectly centred. I attached a picture below so you can understand what I’m talking about. The secret is in the caption!

Just a note, this is not the rainbow éclair, above is the éclair mangue banane (compote) with a milk chocolate mousse. So here’s how they get the compote to be in the centre. They poke 4 holes (spread evenly apart) at the bottom of the eclair and pipe chocolate mousse inside through each hole, but not too full. Then, you position the piping tip of the compote in each hole, and close to the centre of the mousse and pipe gently until the eclair feels full. The trick is to not overfill the eclair when piping. Also, we don’t use a piping tip, just cut a small opening.

But back to rainbow eclairs. This is not really the éclair of my preference as I prefer more natural looking pastries but I suppose it’s fun. And it’s fun to make too. Here’s how they’re constructed. It was created by Christophe Adam, previous executive chef at Fauchon and he also shows how it’s done in his book which I highly recommend.

You begin with tray set over a steaming pot of water. This is to keep each bag of fondant (one bag for every colour) at the correct temperature. Two people are required for this job. One person rotates the bags of fondant to maintain a good temperature while the other person does the piping.

Held between two fridge shelves are the filled eclairs. Strips of coloured fondant is piped onto the eclairs.

The spacing is really important and that was what I found to be really difficult on my first try. I think I made 4 only to have one that turned out just alright.

After the piping is finished, you almost lift the eclairs (just slightly) while banging the metal shelves on the marble to let the excess fondant slide off.

After all the excess fondant (or as much as you can) has slid off, you pull the shelves down just slightly.

Then slowly at first, and then very quickly remove the shelves along the eclairs in the opposite direction as in the photo.

Now, you just have to clean the edges.

And there you go, rainbow eclairs! And yes, that little bubble in the fondant in the picture above should not be there.

After much contemplation, I’ve made the decision to leave Paris at the end of this month. I’ll be moving to Philly which I’m very excited about. It’s been a long year (and longer) of being in a long distance relationship. But I’m proud to say that we made it and that this experience has only made our relationship richer. I can’t wait to explore another new city while I figure out what to do next. Sometimes it’s a bit nerve-racking to face a blank future. But at least I know I still love to bake!

 

9 Comments so far...
  • Greg
    |
    October 2, 2015
    Hi We produce a few eclair's for our bakery and really struggle to get the choux pastry right. There are so many recipes in the market. I was wondering what the best recipe is or what you were taught at Fauchon. Cheers Greg
  • Calvin
    |
    March 6, 2014
    Hi Emily, I am a current student at Ferrandi contemplating fauchon as my stage place. At the risk of not completing your entire blog before asking, where was the fauchon facility located and were you offered a job at the end of your stage, if it was common at all? Much appreciated
  • Enny
    |
    January 21, 2014
    Love your blog! I am currently enrolled in pastry school as well and would love the Fauchon glaze recipe. If you can't give that out it is totally understandable but could you explain the pâte d’amande portion?
  • Sonja.G
    |
    November 6, 2013
    Hi there, you're stint at gauchos looked amazing. How does one get a chance to stage at the great Fauchon? Since my recent visit to Paris I have been trying to perfect the eclairs at home. Yes there are more than a few reputable recipes out there but I think my problem is the temperature of the oven and for how long to bake. You are my last hope as, could you at all enlighten me with the Fauchon way of baking eclairs...a revipe would be fabulous but at the very least I would so appreciate baking temps and times. Many msny thanks in advance.
  • louise
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    August 19, 2013
    Hi - yes I would love a copy of the almond icing recipe too :) Thanks
  • Jess
    |
    July 2, 2013
    Hi Emily, i enjoyed reading your blog, stumbled upon it while googling for eclairs glazing. Can you share a recipe for the pâte d’amande? I would love to do it. Thank you.
  • Salim
    |
    April 26, 2013
    Hey Emily do you have a Email Adresse ?
  • Fabio
    |
    April 17, 2013
    hey Emily, i really enjoy reading your blog, i discovered it few weeks ago and i red it from the beginning.. is nice to have somebody of the job going to great bakery or city where i wouldn't have the possibility to go... :) i have a question.. i have a recipe of the pate a choux that i usually use but i'm not really happy about it.. did you maybe had the possibility to get the one from fauchon? or at least at how much degrees they cook them? everyone has a different recipe but their eclair are absolutely perfect.. (thanks also to the machine ;P) keep going like that.. you are doing a great job! and when you come to italy write me a message! i will be happy to show you around some bakeries! bye!
  • Lester
    |
    January 8, 2013
    Have you got a recipe for the almond icing that you could share? I'd love to give it a go. Thanks.