Religieuse-Nun Cream puffs

You know what sounds fun? Taking a perfectly relaxing hobby such as baking and giving yourself a time limit. I admit when I sit on my comfy couch with my puppy and sipping my coffee I find myself sometimes thinking “I could do that”. You would think I wouldn’t been so cocky given what happened with my attempt at the Swedish Princess cake but regardless I found myself on a lazy Sunday afternoon deciding to try my hand at Religieuse- nun shaped cream puffs from series 4 episode 7 of the Great British Bake Off.

First the recipe, just in case that is what you are looking for, then on to my thoughts.


Choux Ingredients

  • 2 ¼  oz butter
  • 5 oz water
  • 2 ½ oz flour
  • 2 egg


  1. Preheat your oven to 425 F and line a sheet pan with a sheet of parchment.
  2. In a medium sized pot combine the water and butter and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
  3. Add the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and forms a ball of dough. Return to the heat and cook over low heat, constantly stirring.
  4. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly, gradually add the eggs and beat well between each addition to form a smooth and shiney paste. (Note: Here is where my method differs from the way the bakers did it on the show. I don’t know how much information Mary’s recipe gave them but what I like to do is before adding the eggs I will toss my dough into my mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on low. If you come to the bowl at eye level you should see steam rising from the bowl, when the steam stops that is when you can add the eggs.)
  5. Scoop your mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round piping tip. I used Ateco #
  6. Holding your bag straight pipe rounds; this recipe has enough to pipe 8 large round and 8 smaller rounds. Dip your finger tip into some water and smooth over the top of each round.
  7. Bake in your preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce the temp down to 375 F and bake for another 10-15 Minutes.
  8. Remove the buns from the oven and with a skewer pierce each bun to allow the steam to escape. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes to dry them out.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Pastry Cream Ingredients

  • 18 fl oz whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean pod (I replaced this with 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract because vanilla beans are expensive)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 ½ oz sugar
  • ¾ oz cornstarch
  • 1 oz flour


  1. Bring the milk gradually to a boil. (If you’re fancy and have a vanilla bean scrape the seeds and add them to the milk at this point.) Remove from heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks and sugar until pale. Add the cornstarch and flour ( I added my extract to this mixture)
  3. Pour a bit of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour this mixture back into the pot.
  4. Whisk over medium heat and cook for about a minute, it will thicken.
  5. Pour your pastry cream into a bowl (I like to pour it through a sieve to make sure that there aren’t any eggs bits) and cover with plastic wrap, touching the plastic wrap to the custard to prevent a skin from developing. Place in the fridge to chill.

Ganache Ingredients

  • 5 ounces heavy cream
  • 7 oz chocolate (broken into pieces)


  1. Bring the cream to a boil in a small pan, remove from heat. Add the chocolate and whisk until melted and shiny.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool. Place in the fridge to chill until the ganache has thickened to a spreadable consistency.
  3. For the chocolate ganache icing, bring the cream to the boil in a small pan. Remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and stir until melted and shiny. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool. Transfer the fridge to chill until the ganache has thickened to a spreadable consistency.



  1. Whisk 5 ounces of heavy cream until soft peaks form the whisk is removed.
  2. Spoon the cold pastry cream into a piping bag fitted with a long thin tip. Fill the choux with pastry cream.
  3. Dip the filled buns into the chocolate ganache to coat the top half of the buns. Place the small buns on top of the larger buns. (this is where you’ll be glad you smoothed the top of your buns!)
  4. Pipe lines of cream around the middle of your Religieuse where the buns meet.

These are so precious they remind me of my tiny kitten Fiona (I suppose she’s not really a kitten anymore considering she three but she’s so tiny. She’s a tuxedo kitten so these tiny little puffs of pastry, cream and ganache remind me of her.)

So I had to do this challenge a bit differently than how I would normally make pate a choux because I realized I don’t know if contestants wash their dishes as they go about their challenge. As mentioned in the recipe I would normally use my mixer for cooling down the dough and incorporating the eggs but then my bowl would be dirty and I wouldn’t be able to whip of the whipped cream. I supposed I could always whisk the whip cream by hand but that would take longer and seeing as we were attempting to stay in a time constraint that didn’t seem advisable.


Obviously this wasn’t as difficult because I didn’t have cameras in my face, I actually already know how to make the separate components and I have nothing to lose if I run out of time; but I also don’t have the benefit of Mel and Sue cheering me on from the sidelines. What I will say is that at least the time limits are reasonable, or at least that one was–I might do a few more challenges to test this theory. I watched an episode of Nailed it on Netflix this weekend and the whole episode stressed me out. The work they were being asked to do seemed impossible given the amount of time they were given, especially when you consider that they sometimes have to still make the cake.

Overall, I finished with 20 minutes to spare so I’d say that this challenge was reasonable. Best part is that I got to eat ganache dipped cream puffs!




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