I have a funny relationship with tea, I rarely drink the stuff in an average day, but when it comes to Afternoon Tea I can easily guzzle multiple teapots of the stuff. Delicious loose leaf tea, steeped in hot water and used to wash down delicate pastries and scones smothered in jam and clotted cream is one of life’s great pleasures.
Jing Tea are purveyors of some of the finest loose leaf tea and teaware. Not only do they supply tea to amazing Michelin starred restaurants, you can also buy it online to enjoy at home. Jing have a huge range of teas, but I chose to use their loose leaf Earl Grey black tea to create this recipe for Earl Grey Religieuse.
Earl Grey is a blend of ceylon, bergamot and cornflower, which is why I decided to fill these religieuse with a bergamot curd as well as the Earl Grey infused creme patissiere.
Bergamots are a relative of the orange, but they taste a lot like a floral lemon. Once you taste bergamot juice, you’ll realise how much it influences the flavour of Earl Grey. Even if you don’t want to go as far as making these religieuse, give the bergamot and lemon curd a try as it’s really delicious and exotic.
I have made Religieuse before, it is such an iconic French patisserie, made famous by Marie-Antoine Carême in the 19th Century. The religieuse is meant to represent a nun wearing a habit, it has become such a well known patisserie, it even featured as the basis for the Courtesan au Chocolat in The Grand Budapest Hotel, as a three tiered version of the classic.
Although this is a long recipe, it’s not difficult and all of the components can be broken down into their individual parts and made in advance. For instance I made these over a couple of evenings, as everything keeps really well. The only thing you can’t really do in advance is assemble the pastries, so have everything that you need ready (mis-en-place) to hand and then spend some time filling the choux and making them look pretty.
- BERGAMOT CURD
- 2 Bergamots
- 2 Unwaxed Lemons
- 100g Unsalted Butter, softened
- 3 Eggs
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 250g Caster Sugar
- CREME PATISSIERE
- 2.5tsp Vanilla Extract
- 4g Jing Earl Grey Loose Leaf Tea
- 500ml Whole Milk
- 120g Caster Sugar
- 50g Corn flour
- 6 Egg Yolks (about 120g)
- 50g Butter
- 60g Plain Flour
- 60g Golden Caster Sugar
- 50g Unsalted Butter, diced
- CHOUX PASTRY
- 60g Unsalted Butter, diced
- ¼ Tsp Salt
- 1 Tsp Caster Sugar
- 40g Plain Flour
- 45g Strong White Bread Flour
- 3 Medium Eggs
- FONDANT ICING
- 500g Fondant Icing Sugar
- 4 Tbsp Water
- Purple Food Colouring
- TO DECORATE
- Crystalised Violets (optional)
- 125ml Whipping Cream, whipped to stiff peaks
- BERGAMOT CURD
- Zest and juice the lemons and bergamots and place it in a bowl along with the sugar and butter. Place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, stir occasionally until the butter melts.
- Place the eggs and egg yolks in a bowl and whisk lightly with a fork.
- Remove the bowl of from the heat and whisk in the eggs, place the bowl back on the heat and stir continuously, for around 10 minutes. When the curd has thickened up, it should coat the back of a wooden spoon.
- If like me, you don't like the zest in the curd, or you have a small amount of eggy bits, strain the curd into a jug/bowl before pouring into sterilized jars. When the curd is completely cool, place it in the fridge.
- CREME PATISSIERE
- Add the vanilla extract and earl grey to the milk and bring to a boil in a saucepan over a medium heat.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and let infuse for 10 minutes.
- While that's cooling, mix the sugar, corn flour and egg yolks in a bowl until they are combined and pale in colour.
- Strain the milk to remove the tea leaves and whisk a third of the milk into the egg mixture to loosen it, add in the remaining milk and whisk. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over a medium heat, whisking constantly.
- As soon as the pastry cream begins to thicken, remove it from the heat, stir in the butter until it's melted and smooth.
- Scrape the creme patissiere into a bowl, weigh the cream as you do this, you should have 750g of creme patissiere, cover with a layer of cling film, pressing it down so it touches the surface of the cream. This will stop a skin forming.
- Allow to chill completely.
- When the creme patissiere is cool, stir in 200g of bergamot curd and mix thoroughly.
- Mix the flour, sugar and butter together in a bowl, using your fingertips rub the ingredients together until they resemble breadcrumbs.
- Then press the breadcrumbs together until they form a dough. Place the dough between two sheets of greaseproof paper and roll out the dough until it's 2mm thick. Place the dough on a baking tray, still covered in the greaseproof paper and put it in the freezer.
- After about 30 minutes, remove the craquelin from the freezer and cut out 10 x 3cm rings and 10 x 5cm rings. Return the craquelin discs to the freezer.
- CHOUX PASTRY
- Preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan) Gas 4 and line two baking trays with baking parchment, draw 10 circles of 3cm on one tray and 10 circles of 5cm on the other tray, turn the paper over so the circles are on the reverse.
- Put the butter, salt, sugar and 120ml water in a medium pan over a medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and the mixture is at a rolling boil, add the flour and quickly stir together with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a dough.
- With the pan still on a low heat, stir vigorously for 2 minutes, then tip the dough into a bowl and beat for a few minutes until it stops steaming. These two actions help to cook the flour and dry out the dough, which in turn helps it to absorb more egg. This helps the choux pastry to expand properly as it bakes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully absorbed before adding the next. Depending on the flour used and how much water evaporated as you made the dough, the choux pastry will need varying amounts of egg, so the above is given as a guide.
- With this recipe I usually add two eggs and then very slowly start adding the remaining egg, checking the texture of the dough after each addition. You are looking for a dough that has a shine and when it is lifted from the bowl, it should fall from the spatula in a ribbon that forms a "V" shape. If the dough doesn't contain enough egg, it won't expand properly and will be prone to cracking as it bakes; if there is too much egg, the dough won't hold its shape and will collapse as it bakes.
- To prevent the dough from drying out and forming a skin, immediately put the dough into a piping bag with a 1.5cm plain round piping tip fitted.
- Pipe blobs of choux pastry on the prepared baking trays so that the pastry fills the circles you have drawn.
- Top each choux pastry round with a corresponding sized craquelin disc and place the trays of choux pastry in the oven to cook for 30 minutes until the choux has risen and the craquelin is golden. You may find you need to turn the trays after 15 minutes to ensure the pastry colours evenly.
- Turn off the oven and leave the choux pastry in the oven for 30 minutes.
- FONDANT ICING
- put the fondant icing in a bowl and add the water, and food colouring to reach a light shade of lilac. Mix the ingredients together, you want quite a stiff fondant that doesn't fall down the sides of the buns when you coat them.
- TO ASSEMBLE
- Take the choux buns out of the oven and allow them to cool, as they are cooling pierce a hole in the bottom of all 20 buns, so that the creme patissiere can be piped in.
- Fill the cooled choux buns with creme patissiere and place them on a cooling rack.
- Dip the top of a large choux bun in the fondant icing, let any excess drip off by holding the bun upside down. Place the bun on a cooling rack and dip a small bun in the icing and allow the excess to drip off. Place the small bun on top of a large bun and leave them to set.
- Repeat this step with the remaining 9 religieuse.
- Using the whipped cream, place it in a piping bag fitted with a small star shaped tip. Pipe a small collar, by piping short upward strokes from the bottom of the religieuse join to the top.
- Place a crystallised violet on top of the religieuse to finish. These are best eaten within 24 hours of making as the choux will become soft and the fondant icing will weep when they are kept in the fridge.
When you’ve finished making these, settle down and enjoy one with a cup of loose leaf tea and have your own little afternoon tea for one using the Jing Complete Tea Master pot, which brews a perfect sized cup of tea.
If you want your own Jing Tea Master, why not enter this competition to win the following:
- Complete JING Tea Master Sharing Set (RRP: £70)
- 100g Jing Earl Grey (RRP: £16.50)
- 100g Jing Chai (RRP: £16.50)