Quince Preserve with Caramel and Custard Choux Buns


You don’t have to be a pastry chef to put together a glamorous high tea. Keeping it simple, you can bake a basic sponge cake with a premix and style a beautiful table of treats. But I’ve always felt that everyone should have that one show-off skill that takes their pastry game up a notch. If you can master the choux (it really isn’t that hard) and whip up a velvety crème pat, you can make anything from eclairs and profiteroles to a Paris-Brest and a towering croquembouche. For this high tea, I went with a spread of elegant, bon-bon-like choux buns with a crunchy shell, filled with a custardy crème patisserie. From here, you can dress your high tea for whatever occasion.

Quince Preserve with Caramel and Custard Choux Buns

Prep Time: 1 hour and 5 minutes | Cooking Time: 2 hours | Makes: 30 (choux buns)


for the quince preserve

700 g quince

200 g (240 ml) granulated sugar

500 ml water

30 ml lemon juice

5 ml vanilla extract

for the craquelin

60 g (70 ml) light brown sugar

60 g (65 ml) butter

60 g (120 ml) cake flour

Pinch of salt

for the choux pastry

125 ml milk

42 g (45 ml) butter

4 g (5ml) granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

64 g (135 ml) cake flour

2 eggs

for the crème patisserie

1l milk

10 ml vanilla paste

8 egg yolks

150 g (180 ml) sugar

30 g (60 ml) custard powder

30 g (60 ml) corn flour

86 g (90 ml) butter, cubed

for the caramel

200 g (250 ml) white sugar

60 ml water

92 g (90 ml) butter

125 ml cream


for the quince preserve

Prepare a large bowl with 3 litres of cold water and 20 ml lemon juice. Peel and core the quince and slice it into the desired shapes that are equal in size. Place the quince pieces directly into the lemon water. Once all of the quince has been portioned, drain from the water and place into a large saucepot with the vanilla extract and 500 ml water. Allow to simmer over a low heat until the quince pieces are soft. Remove from the heat and add the remaining lemon juice, then place in a sterilised glass jar. For the filling, slice a few pieces of quince into small cubes about 45 ml that will be used inside the choux buns.

for craquelin 

Cream the butter and sugar together, until pale yellow in colour and fluffy in texture.

Gently mix in the salt and flour using either a paddle attachment or a spatula. Roll it out in between two greaseproof papers, until about 5 mm thick.

Place in the fridge or freezer to set, ensuring you place the pastry on a level surface. Cut out with a round cutter or back of a pastry nozzle that is slightly bigger than a R 5 coin.

for the choux pastry

Preheat the oven to 200 ℃ and line two baking trays with baking paper or a silicone sheet.

In a medium saucepot, bring the butter, milk, salt, and sugar together to a gentle simmer over a low heat to allow the butter to melt completely. Remove the pot from the heat, and quickly add the flour by stirring vigorously using a wooden spoon until the dough has a smooth and shiny consistency. Place the saucepot back onto the heat and cook over a low heat for about 2 – 3 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, allowing the flour to cook through.

Remove from the heat and place the dough into a mixing bowl, allow the mixture to cool down slightly until lukewarm to the touch. Beat in the eggs one by one, ensuring the egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. The mixture should be a pipeable consistency, if the mixture is ready before adding all the eggs, the remaining egg must be left out to avoid the mixture being too runny.

Pipe the choux buns onto a prepared baking tray the size of a R5 coin and about 1 cm high. Place a craquelin disk on top and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. With the oven door closed, reduce the temperature of the oven to 180 °C and bake for another 5 – 10 minutes. The choux bun should have a crisp shell and feel hollow when ready.

for the crème patisserie 

Place the milk and vanilla paste in a small saucepot over a medium heat until it starts to simmer. Place the egg yolks, sugar, custard powder, and corn flour in a medium mixing bowl and whisk together until pale in colour. Continue whisking while slowly pouring the milk into the bowl to temper the eggs and prevent the mixture from scrambling. Once all the milk is incorporated, continue cooking the crème patisserie over a medium heat in a clean saucepot while whisking, until thick in consistency. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Contact wrap and place in the fridge until needed. 

for the caramel

Place the sugar in a medium saucepot and cook over a low heat, without stirring, when the sugar is amber in colour, add the butter and whisk until combined. Remove from the heat and slowly add the cream while whisking. Take caution when working with hot sugar.