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Creative Eclairs review plus interview with Ruth Clemens

Are you ready to go on a blog hop? It’s ok, I didn’t know what it meant either! A few weeks ago, along with a few other bloggers, I was asked to take part in a blog hop to celebrate the launch of Ruth Clemens new book Creative Eclairs. I said absolutely! So I have a treat in store for you lovely readers today – an interview with the lovely Ruth herself! I’ll also be reviewing her brand new book “Creative Eclairs” which is due for release in April 2014. wpid-20140303_4.jpg I’m quite a big fan of Ruth – I’ve admired her ever since I watched her on the first series of The Great British Bake off Ruth went all the way to the final (although you probably don’t need me to tell you that!) Her website The Pink Whisk has been a real lifesaver for me on many an occasion – her clear and detailed instructions work every single time. Since the first bake off in 2010, Ruth has gone on to write four books and manage her very successful website. She is Mum of two boys – the same as myself! image

So without further ado, I give you, the lovely Ruth Clemens!
Hello Ruth! So lovely to have you here :-)

When did you first take an interest in baking and what was the first thing you ever baked? Gosh, I don’t know what the first thing I ever baked was! I suppose I was always helping Mum bake, cakes, biscuits, flashbacks those kind of thing we’d eat for after tea or as a snack after school – there was always something homebaked in the tin.

Where did you first hear about The Great British Bake Off and what made you apply?
I saw an advert in a magazine that was looking for keen home bakers. Even taking notice of an advert like that is completely out of character for me but I had finished my job a couple of months earlier to help organise my husbands business. I had organised it all (the children, the house and the business) to within an inch of it’s life and I had a fair bit of time on my hands so I was definitely ready for a new challenge and that advert was just the thing.

What are your most memorable memories from baking in the tent? And how did it feel to become a finalist?
The most memorable moments are the absolute laugh we had – contestants all together. I have never laughed or had so much fun in my life, it was a huge adventure for all of us. I met some brilliant friends through taking part, we visited amazing places and we spent the weekend baking too, what could be better? I was hugely surprised to end up in the final I seriously never thought I would get that far, I loved every minute of it.

Watching you on GBBO made me wish I had your organisation skills! What tips/advice would you offer to fellow busy working mums trying to prepare good and nutritious food for their family?
Haha thank you! In my head those organisational skills are in fact my control freak tendencies which can be difficult to live with (just ask my boys)! It’s really boring but honestly meal planning for the week ahead saves time and money, buying all the things you need for them on the weekly shop plus it saves on the endless “Mum…what’s for tea?” questioning, they just go and look at the plan in the kitchen! It saves a huge amount of time too, time that can be spent doing much more fun things.

What are your storecupboard staples? And what are your top three, couldn’t be without them pieces of baking equipment?

Storecupboard staples would be flours and sugars – caster and light brown. I also like to have cocoa powder, syrup and a selection of chocolate (not least so I can raid it when absolutely necessary) The three things I couldn’t live without in the kitchen are digital scales, oven thermometer and silicone spatulas.

You have so many lovely recipes on your site. What’s your all time favourite?
That’s a difficult question! There’s lots that I use time and time again, chocolate frosted traybake, flapjack, scones, chocolate orange cake, my chocolate cake recipe, can you tell I’m indecisive? The blog only really started because I wanted somewhere to record my recipes where I wouldn’t go losing them and now it’s completely taken over. I suppose my all time favourite would be vanilla slices, I’m rather partial to one or two of those!

Since the bake off in 2010 you’ve written three very successful books – busy girl’s guide to cake decorating, The Pink Whisk guide to cake making, The Pink Whisk guide to breadmaking and now Creative Eclairs. You also run a fantastic website – you’ve been very busy! Any plans for the future?
<em>Thank you! I’ve never had a future plan, sounds crazy I know either that or foolish. I just like to go along with the opportunities at the time and I’ve been hugely lucky to have had some great ones. Who knows what this year will hold, hopefully it’ll be just as exciting as the past few but if not I’ll still be baking away, that’s what I really love doing, anything else is just a bonus.

A huge thank you Ruth for the interview! xx Now onto the new book…. I’m going to start by admitting something. I am RUBBISH at choux pastry. I have never been able to get it right first time. I have no idea why. I have a memory of myself, age 15, in my Gran’s kitchen standing over the cooker attempting to make choux pastry. And becoming more and more exasperated and angry that I couldn’t do it. I finally admitted defeat. To this day I still have a “thing” about it – I made profiteroles last year but it took me four attempts to get them right!

So when I recieved a copy of Ruth’s new book (available for pre-order right here) I saw it as a great opportunity to practice choux. What I love about this book (as is also the case with all Ruth’s books and her website) is that you have step by step photographs for each stage so you know what things are supposed to look like – very useful!

There really is a huge variety of eclairs here – something for absolutely everyone. The book is broken down into five chapters – How to Choux, Fruit Fantastique, Ooh La La, Chocolat!, Choux Creations and How to decorate. Ruth’s sugarcraft skills and attention to detail really shine through!

I love the look of these apple pie eclairs! Very cute! image
I think my favourite chapter has to be Ooh La La, Chocolat which has the most decadent, delicious looking eclairs I think I’ve ever seen! The book is filled with so much deliciousness I was having a hard time deciding what to try, so I asked my hubby to choose. Mr T didn’t take long to decide – raspberry ripple! image Given my previous attempts at choux pastry, I wasn’t confident my eclairs would look anything like the gorgeous picture above but I was willing to give it a go! And guess what?….. Success! Ok they may not be as neat as Ruth’s, but I was over the moon that I actually made eclairs! image They were absolutely scrummy and didn’t last five minutes in our house! Ruth you have certainly inspired me to try more flavours and varieties. Now I know choux pastry isn’t so difficult after all. image Thank you Ruth! You’ll find details of all the other blogs taking part in the blog hop right here :-)

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20 thoughts on “Creative Eclairs review plus interview with Ruth Clemens

  1. How fabulous nicola, great post! i too am lacking in the choux department, but yours turned out brilliantly, so i will have to invest in Ruth’s book for some inspiration! well done. mx

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  2. Your eclairs look so beautiful! I have no doubt that they didn’t last long. I have a terrible soft-spot for eclairs but so rarely make them myself, so I hope my forays into Ruth Clemens’ book will give me some inspiration. I’m sitting here with a cup of tea and wishing I could bite into one of your raspberry ripple eclairs …

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  3. Well done Nic! It’s great to conquer a baking debacle isn’t it?! The eclairs look great. Lovely to hear a bit more about Ruth although I won’t be buying this book – Hungry Hubby would have me make profiterole versions of everything! He loved the piccie of the eclairs with the apples aw :D Lovely write up x

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