Batter Chatter with Ruth Clemens, Author of Creative Eclairs

As a blogger who has made the jump to published author, I am always happy to welcome others to the club. So I was super excited to hear that Ruth Clemens, baker extraordinaire who blogs at The Pink Whisk, had published a book. And oh, what a book: entitled Creative Eclairs: Over 30 Fabulous Flavours and Easy Cake Decorating Ideas for Eclairs and Other Choux Pastry Creations, this is a necessary volume for eclair lovers. Everyone loves eclairs, therefore you must buy the book. See? Science.

I interviewed Ruth as part of her book tour blog hop; to see the other entries, click here

And now, on to the interview. Let's get some clarity on the world of an eclair book writer! This interview may be of great interest to bloggers who are interested in writing a book, too!

Why are eclairs better than doughnuts?

I can’t tell you that they are (especially as I know your love for doughnuts!) but they are just as good. They share the same good traits in that treating yourself to one or two (or 3, or 4 - who am I kidding?) is thoroughly utterly lovely. You can dress them up to the nines with sprinkles, decorations or glitz, you can keep them simple and understated but they are always packed with mind blowing flavours, filling combinations and textures. There is something for everyone and every occasion, I’ll have one of each please!

Writing a cookbook is a serious process. Here is a two part question regarding that.

a. What was the most difficult part of the process for you?

The hardest part I find is to decide what makes it into the book and what gets cut out – which recipes to develop from an idea into reality. I still go over in my mind the recipes that I didn’t put in and wonder if I made the right decision. I always try to cover recipes for lots of different tastes and not just my own preference so that there’s something to tempt everyone.

b. What was the most fun part of the process for you and why?

The most fun part has got to be getting in the kitchen and turning the ideas on paper into a reality. I love the creativity of playing around with something until it’s just the way you want it. Of course I get frustrated when things won’t do what I want but I tend to park an idea and then come back to it again later. I lose whole days when I get to play in the kitchen, no email, no phone and I just thoroughly enjoy creating a mountain of washing up, before I know it it’s school pick up time, I’ve got flour in my hair and I have to fly to the playground in a mad dash to meet the kids!

What happened to the eclairs after the photo shoots?

Everyone at the shoot was sent home with treat boxes full of all sorts of flavours. The rest (and we were probably dealing with over 100 eclairs each day of the shoot) were boxed up and taken to my boys lacrosse training groups – they soon disappeared and none of them went to waste!

Which recipe from your book would you suggest for the beginning French pastry-maker and why?

It has to be Classic Chocolate Eclairs as a first foray into choux pastry. A simple choux, crème patissiere and a ganache and you have something utterly wonderful. It’s a confidence builder and from there on in EVERYTHING else is achievable.

Not everybody knows that choux is for more than just making eclair shells. What is one of your favorite non-eclair items from the book which uses choux pastry and why?

I love the Pecan Streusel Buns and I have to admit I fear for those buns! They are plain and simple looking and for that I worry that they’ll be overlooked. They are however one of the loveliest tasting buns I’ve ever had and have to admit I make them here time and time again. Now you’re probably thinking that I’m a little bit mad worrying about buns and going over the poor recipes that didn’t make the cut, actually it’s most likely true but I do put my heart and soul into the recipes and my books and can only hope when they make it onto book shelves in bakers homes that they enjoy the recipes and put them to good use. The ultimate accolade is for books to be so well used that the pages are sticking together.

Tell me three things about you that we might not expect if all we knew of you was this book.

1. I’m a normal Mum, running round after the kids, nagging them to do homework/spellings/chores, walking the dog, doing the washing (or getting behind with it more like), shopping, nattering at the school gates all the usual Mum and family stuff with a bit of baking thrown in for good measure.

2. I get things wrong in the kitchen all the time. It’s only through practice and ten tons of it, doing the same thing over and over that I I’ve taught myself to get better and more successful in my baking.

3. You might not expect that in fact my kitchen at home, where all the recipes come to life is in fact the size of a miniature peanut. The longest length of continuous worksurface I have is approx. 60cm long and I share that working space with the kettle, tea, coffee and sugar. I am the master at balancing and impromptu resting spots, creative baking (and juggling) at its finest!

Did you have to go on an eclair diet after writing the book?

Strangely no! I have subjected my family to overdose on various different bakes throughout the past couple of years cake and bread included, just through the repetition that’s required when writing a book. Eclairs they will still hoover up instantly without any complaint and only the odd physical fight over the last one left. When there’s choux being made no-one runs to hide. I was also pretty well organised at squirrelling the testers out to friends and family quick sharp so there was never enough to overface my boys! Fortunately eclairs are now interspersed with other treats otherwise we’d all be ending up the sizes of houses here.

What's next?

For me it’s back to my blog, The Pink Whisk (and the cooking, cleaning washing), writing recipes to share with the baking mad masses and beyond that really who knows! I’d love to get to work on a new book and have some ideas in the pipeline but in the meantime I’m off to make some more washing up…

Buy the book here: Creative Eclairs: Over 30 Fabulous Flavours and Easy Cake Decorating Ideas for Eclairs and Other Choux Pastry Creations. We'll share a recipe from the book next week, too!