Did you know the word ‘éclair’ comes from the French for ‘flash of lightning’? On learning this recently I thought, yes, it does have a lightning bolt-esque look to it, but non! They are so named as they are eaten quickly – in a flash.
Trends are odd – what makes them start and why do they tail off? Why are more traditional names, such as Lily and Audrey, back in fashion and boys born in the early 1990s mostly named Jack and Oliver?
We may never get to the bottom of it but éclairs are back. Many top patissiers are saying so and that, in itself, is more evidence – the sudden wealth of bona fide French patisseries popping up over London. I don’t want to bring up The Great British Bake Off again, but I’m going to. The popular programme has a great deal to do with why bakery, in general, is back in fashion and why patisserie is cool again.
Before, people went into a bakery and bought something – and that was it. Now, people who know will go into a bakery because they are attracted by the display. If they buy a little inch-tall layered cake, they now know the preparation, time and skill that goes into creating it and they no longer baulk at a price that might seem extortionate for the amount of cake being sold. So that can only be a good thing.
Éclairs are being hailed as ‘the new macaroon’ or ‘the new cupcake’ and they certainly do hold great appeal. Visually appealing, they also have the fortunate quality of taking on different flavours – Joakim Prat of Maître Choux is even considering savoury ones.
So let’s sit back and wait to see what wonderful éclair creations can be dreamed up.