Tell us about Litter’s Éclairs
Litters Éclairs is the only dedicated éclair Shop in the North West with the desire to create some interestingly beautiful éclairs. In our charmingly small shop, we have an open style kitchen where our handcrafted éclairs are baked with precision, generously filled and decorated with an intricate finish.
Was there a particular moment when you decided to become a chef?
I was 22 when I got my first kitchen job, and I instantly knew it was the right career path for me. I loved the fast-paced environment, working with a team of chefs and being creative with cooking. I remember loving it so much that I changed my dining room into a second kitchen, it was like walking into a restaurant kitchen… stainless steel tables, commercial fridge and freezer, Vac Pac machine, pasta machine and pastry oven – I had it all. On my days off I would be making big pans of jus from the beef bones I got from the butchers. I treated it like I was a head chef at home but really, I was still a commis in the workplace it was great haha. I was just consumed with cooking and learning.
What qualities do you think you need to be a pastry chef?
Passion is a definite. If you don’t have love for what you do then you’re not able to keep pushing forward. Patience would be another, success comes from failing and this is something I had to do many of times so I had to be very patient throughout the learning curves.
Why just Éclairs?
I get asked this a lot. I had previously put my hand to making celebratory cakes, boxes of chocolates and other desserts but it wasn’t until I started making choux pastries and witnessing the challenges that came with it – it just woke my soul up haha. They fascinated me with how they baked to be hollow on the inside, the crisp outer shell and the clean lines running over the éclair, they just looked pretty to me even in their basic form.
I knew I wanted to master them to this degree, so I put all my focus into it. The aim was to master them to the point I could make 1 or 100 éclairs which all looked uniform in size and shape, hollow on the inside and evenly risen with clean lines. This wasn’t as simple to achieve as I first thought, and I quickly realised the challenges I would face. It has taken a lot of failed attempts for me to learn how to get them right and I mean a lot.
I didn’t move onto the glazes until I had mastered the choux first but when I got the chance to see the éclair dipped, they became even more beautiful. Having 5 different coloured éclairs lined up together was like art to me. I also realised if I hadn’t spent all my time mastering the choux to be crack free and evenly risen, they would not have had that elegant appearance they did. The glaze can hide a multitude of sins, but I knew I didn’t want to hide behind any of it. So, it was such a fist pumping moment that the hard work was paying off.
Next came the filling choices I could use and suddenly, I had all these beautiful éclairs in front of me with endless possibilities of what else I could do with them. That was when I had the eureka moment of wanting to open a business making éclairs. I also knew there was nothing like this in the North West- a shop that’s just solely focused on éclairs and I thought it would be something great to bring to Merseyside. I know there are a lot of pastry lovers around and I wanted customers to experience the new creative twist I had given the éclair.
What is the most rewarding part of having an éclair shop?
There is nothing more rewarding than knowing a customer enjoys eating the work you have created. When I hear the door clang and I know it’s a customer coming into the shop, it’s a great feeling knowing someone has chosen to come and try a Littlers Éclair. A few times a customer has asked if it’s OK if they can take a photo of inside the display fridge, and I’m like yes sure you can. That made me smile.
Do you have a favourite Éclair?
I probably enjoy one of my éclairs most Friday and Saturdays when I’m open haha. I have such a sweet tooth, but I always tend to go for the Lemon Meringue Éclair. The sharp, tangy citrus gets my taste buds going and the balance of the sweet meringue just does it for me. The customers favourite tends to be the Strawberry éclair and secondly, the Hazelnut Crunch.
Does it take along time to make the éclairs?
Yes, it does. I am open two days a week at the moment, and I spend the other 5 days preparing recipes some of which can take up to two days to make.
You have had the shop open for 6 months now, how has it been?
At the beginning it was quite overwhelming, but I do feel I have settled into it more. I am the only chef at the moment so having 7 different flavoured éclairs, some with 4 components on each to prepare, I had to be very strict in how I manage my time. I also work on the till when I’m open, so I don’t get much room to make mistakes – I have to be extremely organised.
Do you have any inspirational role models?
If there was a chef I would like to meet it would be Marco Pierre White or Heston Blumenthal.
What are the most important considerations when crafting your éclairs?
I tend to consider the éclair from a customer’s buying perspective. I ask myself, what would they want from each éclair and why would they buy one. I focus equally on presentation and flavour as a lot of people buy with their eyes first then I have to make sure I meet the expectations of flavour and mouth feel. I like to think my éclairs are seen as a full dessert that you could get from any restaurant menu.
Lucy Littler’s Éclairs
15-17 Wallasey Road
Tel: 07897 032929