The making of Profiteroles requires a certain mood. First off there has to be nobody else in the house. Distractions are not welcome when a desire to make the most wonderful of all light pastry comes over you and so with that said, I am happy when H decides to head off in the jeep with the two canines for a jaunt in the bog and happy that middle son is in the throes of visiting his girlfriend and thrilled that young son is heading home, learning independence, on the bus with a pal, because the bus does not come this way, and so he still has a good mile and a half to walk from the bus stop before he reaches this doorstep.
The making of Profiteroles is easily erotic. It is the slow pace with which I don my apron and scan the clean work space for, well, for space. It is a clear mind and a longed for discipline. It is concentration and the following of a recipe and one that does not call for innovation. No. One must adhere to the rules. For me, a challenge, to say the least.
Choux pastry is wonderful. It reminds me of childhood eclairs in a pastry shop in Cork. A trip with my mother to the city and a special treat, tea, white napkins, dainty cups and a tray of cakes. Eclairs are exotic and uncommon and ultimately seductive.
I measure out everything to the exact requirements. I put the water and butter into a medium sized pan. I melt the butter in the water and allow it to boil. The tricky part is sifting flour onto a creased sheet of greaseproof paper and because I am making sweet choux, I add sugar along with the flour. Then I add this mixture or as the term goes, ''shoot'' it, into the melted butter and water and gradually add the beaten eggs to form a glistening paste like the almond paste my mother often put on her Christmas cakes before she iced them. Then the suggestion is to grease a baking pan, wet it under a cold tap, dapple of the excess liquid and dot teaspoons of choux onto the pan. Bake in a hot oven for at least twenty five minutes, pierce the dainties once out of the oven to allow the steam to escape and cool on a wire tray. The fun part is filling them with whipped double cream and drizzling the stack with melted dark chocolate. No rules on that score.
Then it is a stroll down the garden. The bell on the vegetable patch gate tinkles as I open it. I bought the bell in Venice Beach years ago and though rusted from the elements it still reassures me of its existence. All looks good down there. Growth gifts me. Back up to the kitchen and realise that I have no candles. I want to make these Profiteroles as a late birthday cake for my son-he must have a cake and candles. I dig out the drawers and plunge into cupboards until I find an old Christmas ornament. A German pyramid with four angles and those little red candles that spun the angles around with the tingle of bells. How often I lit them way back then and how wondrous the boys were - listening for the bells and the flight of the angles. I pluck a small red candle from its holder and notice the wick has almost dwindled. Still, I take it to place on top of the pastries, the stack of pastry and light it and sing Happy Birthday and tell him to wish and to make one special wish and he blows out the candle and all I see is a small blond head looking up, not down as he is today, but looking up amazed when the candle light caught his blue eyes and his mouth was full of wonder and I wish for a second that the candle was only beginning to be lit, that I had just unwrapped it fresh from the box and lit it for the first time.