Religieuse Choux Buns

Oh yeah, it’s that time of the week when we’re talking GBBO. And I’ve got a good one for the bakers this week, Mary Berry’s Choux Buns aka Religieuse. 

Mary Berry's Religieuse

Religieuse. What the what? 

I know I hear you on that one, Religieuse, what in the world? I’ve been just calling them Nun Buns in my head, which sounds bad, I know. Religieuse are choux buns or cream puffs, dipped in ganache, filled with pastry cream, stacked on top of each other, and piped round with whipped cream. 

I THOUGHT I knew what fiddly was when I made the Floating Islands Dessert a few weeks back. That has nothing on Religieuse. These are the fiddliest choux buns I’m ever making. Ever.

Mary Berry's Choux Buns

The name Religieuse comes from the fact that they do indeed look like little nuns when made properly. Dark chocolate ganache, white piped whipped cream, these plump choux buns are fun.

Religieuse Choux Buns

And that’s the KEY PHRASE right there “when made properly.”

Let me tell you about my adventures making these. Don’t worry I’ll keep it short and sweet because EVERY SINGLE PART of making them was done wrong.

I have lessons on what NOT TO DO. 

If anyone saw in the kitchen they would have been ashamed of me, I WAS! I felt like I’d never baked anything in my life.

So instead of me telling you how to do, I’m sharing how not to do it. 

How to Make Mary Berry’s Religieuse Choux Buns

First up Choux Buns. In the end, I skipped Mary Berry’s Choux Buns recipe because, well you’ll read about it right now. Let’s just say I could not get them to work, and it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Mary Berry's Religieuse Choux Buns

I followed Mary Berry’s recipe on BBC Foods which lists every ingredient, except water. Which it CALLS for in the directions but because it wasn’t listed, I didn’t have it on the radar. Yes, I should slow down and read all of the directions but I was speeding through this because I KNEW WHAT I WAS DOING. 

Obviously I didn’t because I made them TWICE before I figured out I was doing something wrong. And after reading the recipe I realized I left out the water. Make them one more time and I still screwed them up because they didn’t rise. Once more was what I needed. In the end, I went with halving my old choux bun stand-by. SUCCESS, finally.

Mary Berry's Religieuse

Mixing Pastry Cream for Choux Buns

Let’s talk pastry cream. The recipe calls for whipping the eggs with the sugar. NOT A PROBLEM I got this. Except I was so good at this I dropped an eggshell in the stand mixer while dropping in egg yolks and had to start again. But once I got them in right, they were pale and creamy and perfect. 

I was also heating the milk as well. As soon as it came to a boil I took it off the heat and let it cool while I whisked the flour and starch in the eggs. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl, it’s important because the flour and corn starch like to stick to it.

Pastry Cream; Mistakes Were Made

I poured to cooled milk in the eggs, with the mixer on high. DO NOT DO THIS. Just gently mix them in if you’re using a stand mixer, use the lowest setting. 

What I managed to do was whip the hell out of the milk and eggs and create a 4-inch froth of milky eggs on top of the liquid. 

Pushing on, I poured it back where it came from, which happened to be a small saucepan. The frothy mess came right up to the rim. 

Luckily I managed to remember to whisk whisk whisk over high heat. But then walked over to check the directions and came back to lumpy cream. 

Religieuse Choux Buns

I was so over it by then I just kept whisking and let the cream get thick. I was putting it through a sieve anyway so a few bits of scrambled eggs weren’t going to stop me. 

The sieve worked fine and the cream tasted fine but it took way too long to knock down the foamy mess. 

Religieuse Choux Buns

Somehow I pulled off the ganache pretty painlessly. Usually, it’s grainy or dull but I like it. It looks pretty good, on Mary Berry’s Religieuse don’t you think? 

Yield: 8 Nuns

Religiuese

Religiuese
Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 40 minutes
Cooling Time 1 hour
Total Time 4 hours 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 water
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour-sift before measuring 
  • 2 eggs, room temperature

Pastry Cream

  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 Tablespoons flour

Ganache

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate, at least 35% (I used 60%)

Whipped Cream

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. to make Choux Buns preheat the oven to 400˚
  2. bring water and butter to a boil
  3. add the sifted flour all at once, cook and stir until it comes together as a ball
  4. let it cool ten minutes
  5. line a baking tray with parchment, if you need it you can draw 8 two-inch circles and 8 one-inch circles on the backside of the parchment paper then flip it over to pipe on
  6. meanwhile, gently stir the eggs to break them up
  7. when the dough has cooled, add about 1/4 of the eggs and beat it in with a wooden, repeat the addition and beating in with the rest of the eggs
  8. use a piping bag with 1/2 tip to pipe 8 two-inch circles and 8 one-inch circles
  9. bake in a 400˚ oven for 30 minutes
  10. when they're done pull them off the baking sheet and use a knife to make a hole in the side to let the steam out, they can cool while you prep everything else 
  11. To Make the Pastry Cream
  12. bring the milk and vanilla JUST to a boil, then remove from the heat and let it cool for a minutes
  13. while it's heating beat the egg yolks and sugar together until pale yellow and frothy
  14. stir the corn starch and flour together and beat into the egg yolks, scrape the bowl down and stir again
  15. once the milk has cooled a bit, whisk it into the egg yolks, if you're using a KitchenAid use the whisk attachment on low
  16. once they're combined pour all of it back in the saucepan
  17. whisk the mixture over medium-low heat, don't stop whisking or you'll get lumps or scorch it or both
  18. when it has thickened up, put it through a sieve to remove all the lumps
  19. lay plastic wrap over the surface and cool on the counter then transfer to the refrigerator 
  20. To make the Ganache
  21. bring the cream to a boil, remove from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir until it's completely melted, and the mixture is shiny
  22. put plastic wrap on the surface to keep it from getting a film, cool and chill until it is of coating consistency
  23. To Assemble the Religieuse 
    •fill the large choux buns with pastry cream
    •dip the tops in the cooled ganache
    •dip the small choux buns in ganache
    •stand the small one on top of the large one and let the ganache hold them together 
  24. To Whip the Cream
  25. Beat the chilled cream on high just until it stands up in stiff peaks, don't make butter with it!
  26. load in a frosting bag fitted with a star tip, pipe small stars around where the two choux buns meet

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