Veterník – Creamy Choux Pastry

Veternik is a traditional “old-school” cake or creamy puff. It’s a sweet return to the days when my parents were my age and when going to the Pastry/ Cake Store (in Slovak called Cukráreň) was a special “once-a-week” thing. All dressed up, families would head out for a walk (most often after the Sunday lunch)that would be finished by a visit of a Cukráreň. A good weekend walk was rewarded with a cup of Turkish coffee and a piece of Veternik (or Laskonka). The popularity, and undoubtebly, the deliciousness of the Veternik made the cake survive decades and now it is experiencing a big comeback to all fancy and hip bistros & restaurants

So what the famous Veternik actually is? It’s simply a sandwiched cake consisting of a Choux pastry shell that is filled with two kinds of filling – Vanilla Custard and Caramel Whipped Cream. Once filled, the top shell of Veternik is then dipped in a caramel sauce or it is drizzled with a simple sugar sauce. Besides the most common & traditional combination of vanilla & caramel filling, you can find Veterniks filled with a variety of other fillings like for example rum and coffee cream

Even though Veternik is perfection as it is that doesn’t need any “fixes”, what usually makes me sad about this special & delicious cake is its over-the-top sweetness. The choux pastry itself doesn’t contain any sugar so the filling must be obviously sweet enough. Still, I took my own twist on Veternik, played with ratios of sugar & other ingredients to create a perfect, delicious yet not-too-sweet piece of cake that doesn’t make you hate sweet treats. Moreover, I love to add a teaspoon of tart & sour jam in between the two fillings to balance the sweetness

One last thing before we jump on the recipe – make sure that you have enough time to bake Veterniks as the whole process might take you 2 – 3 hours. It’s a good idea to prepare the dough and fillings one day ahead and assemble your Veterniks the next day. Please read the whole recipe (and the notes below) before you start with making the recipe to know what you need and to understand how to divide your time. Now, let’s bake


INGREDIENTS

Choux Pastry

125g Water

125g Milk

115g Butter, unsalted

140g Flour, all-purpose or fine

4-5 Eggs, large, at room temperature

A Pinch of Salt

Vanilla Cream Filling

300g Milk

1 Egg, whole

1 Egg Yolk

40g Sugar, white

15g AP Flour

20g Cornstarch

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Caramel Cream Filling

100g Sugar, white

40g Butter, unsalted

50-60g Heavy Cream

Other

400g – 450g Heavy Whipping Cream, cold

4-5 Tablespoons tart & sour Jam like Redcurrant or Lingonberry 


METHOD

1.Choux Pastry: In a small saucepan combine together 125g Water, 125g Milk, 115g Butter and a pinch of Salt. Bring the mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally. When simmering take off the heat and add 140g of Flour, all at once. Keep stirring the flour until it’s completely incorporated and you can’t see any dry flour with a naked eye. Return the pot back on a stovetop and keep cooking the dough for about two minutes to evaporate some water – the dough should clump into a soft ball at the end of cooking. Wait for the dough to cool down, stirring occasionaly to speed up the cooling, or place it into a bowl of your standing mixer attached with a dough attachment and turn it on low speed to cool it down faster. Then slowly start with adding 4 whole whisked Eggs (must be at room temperature) in several additions until the dough reaches pipeable consistency. You might need one more egg if the dough is not pipeable after adding four whole eggs. Note: depending on the size of your eggs you might as well use less than 4 whole eggs. Make sure that you’re adding eggs very slowly, little by little. If you’ll end up with too runny & liquidy dough, there’s no way to fix it afterward

2. Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit/ 200° Celsius. Pipe the dough on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and sprinkled lightly with some water (the water droplets will evaporate as the pastry bake and create a humid environment that will puff the choux pastryPipe small rounds on a sheet and place it into the oven for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350° Fahrenheit/ 180° Celsius and bake for another 15-20 minutes on the size of your shells until golden brown on the top. DON’T OPEN THE OVEN FOR FIRST 15-20 MINUTES OTHERWISE THE CHOUX SHELLS COLLAPSE

3. Caramel: In a heavy-bottom pan or saucepan melt 100g of Sugar & 40g of Butter, stirring occasionally. Once melted,  keep stirring vigorously for around a minute to two. If butter and sugar separate, take it off the heat and whisk the mixture until homogenous again. Then pour in 50g of Heavy Cream (at room temperature) and cook for another 1 minute. Take off the heat and let the caramel slowly cool down. Save a tablespoon of caramel for the topping

4. Vanilla Cream Filling: Start with warming up 200g of Milk. In another bowl whisk together the rest 100g of Milk, 1 Whole Egg, 1 Egg Yolk, 40g of Sugar, 15g of Flour, 20g of Cornstarch and 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Essence. Once the milk is simmering, pour 1/3 of simmering milk into an egg mixture to temper and whisk properly. Then pour the vanilla-egg mixture back into the rest of the boiling milk whisking vigorously to prevent the lumps to form. Cook the cream for a minute or two until thick. Transfer to the fridge to cool down completely

5. Heavy cream: Whisk 400g of cold Heavy Cream until thick for around 3-4 minutes. Manually stir in cold caramel sauce

6. Assembling Veternik: Cut cooled choux shells through with a bread knife. Transfer your well-cooled Vanilla Cream and Caramel Whipped Cream into piping bags and pipe Vanilla cream on the bottom of the pastry shell. Pipe Caramel Cream on top of it and cover with the top of the shell. Option – you can add ½ teaspoon of tart & sour jam in between two creams to balance the sweet flavors. Decorate with powdered sugar or drizzle with saved caramel sauce. If your caramel sauce thickened-up and is not pouring easily, simply reheat it on a stovetop. Enjoy immediately

NOTES:

  • The raw choux dough can be stored in an airtight container/ piping bag in a fridge for up to three days
  • Creams, fillings and whipped heavy cream should preferably sit in the fridge for several hours or overnight before filling the choux shells 
  • Baked & unfilled choux shells can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week (they can be filled just before they’re served)
  • Baked & filled Veterniks can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 day. Longer than that they will become soggy 
  • Choux shells/ Veterniks can be filled with a variety of other fillings like simple whisked heavy cream with a teaspoon of powdered sugar, whisked chocolate heavy cream, chocolate custard, lemon curd, etc., as well as fresh fruits – preferably smaller fruits like berries. Veterniks can be drizzled with a chocolate ganache instead of caramel sauce as well
  • The two most important rules when baking choux pastry are: 1. Stick to the ingredients & precise measurements and 2. Don’t open the oven while choux shell bakes to prevent collapsing

Dobrú chuť,
Lenka

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