Whats not to love about choux pastry and anything made from it…..generally sweet, but occasionally savory, light, crisp, and sugar free (except for toppings and fillings). Yet choux pasty was the one pastry I could not master as a teenager. Upon adding the flour the mix always became ugly, gelatinous, lumpy and got thrown in the bin.
Some years later Chef Rogan asked me to make Choux Pastry at the Masonic Hotel…and I politely explained to him that it would be a total waste of time and ingredients as I could not make it- and had no desire to make a total fool of myself in a professional environment. I think I went so far as to offer to wash pots in preference. Rogan Thomas was a good, kind patient man and assured me all would be OK…just get it started, follow the recipe and if it looked wrong, call him. So I started, it went bad, I called him and he laughed…he laughed so hard it hurt….. and when he stopped laughing he gently explained that this was how it was supposed to look…really???? I had thrown away so many perfect mixes. I continued to make perfect eclairs and later in the year I was able to laugh about it too.
We now have the benefit of TV cooking shows and you tube video clips that, had they been available back in the 70’s would have been a great reassurance to me and I urge you to avail yourself of these resources as you tackle what has become a favorite of mine. Thats not to say it is easy….. but it is not impossible. So here is how its done….
- 80ml (1/3 cup) water
- 40g butter, at room temperature, cubed
- 50g (1/3 cup) plain flour, sifted
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- Spray Olive oil, to grease
Preheat oven to 200°C. Spray a baking tray with oil to lightly grease.
Place water and butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until butter melts and mixture just comes to the boil.
Add all the flour to the butter mixture at once and use a wooden spoon to beat until well combined. DO NOT PANIC… it is supposed to look ugly at this stage.
Place over low heat and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture forms a ball and begins to come away from the side of the saucepan.
Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
- Whisk the eggs in a small bowl then add it to the flour mixture gradually, beating well with a wooden spoon until the mixture just falls from the spoon but still holds its shape. You can tranfer the dough to a mixer so that it beats electronically while you add the eggs – this is easier on the arms.
Spoon 25-30 teaspoons of the mixture onto tray, about 3cm apart. Alternatively, use a pastry bag fitted with a 1.5cm-diameter plain or star piping nozzle to pipe the profiteroles, eclairs or desired shapes onto the baking tray.
Brush the tops with a little of the remaining egg. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the profiteroles are puffed and golden.
Remove from oven and turn the oven off. Using a skewer or a small knife, pierce the base (or top) of each profiterole to release the steam.
Return the profiteroles to the oven and leave them for 15 minutes to dry out.
Remove the profiteroles from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Choux pastry, or pâte à choux, is a light pastry dough used to make profiteroles, croquembouches, éclairs, French crullers, beignets, St. Honoré cake, Indonesian kue sus, and gougères. It contains only butter, water, flour, and eggs. Like a Yorkshire Pudding , instead of a raising agent it employs high moisture content to create steam during cooking to puff the pastry.
Choux pastry is usually baked but for beignets it is fried. In Spain and Latin America, churros are made of fried choux pastry, sugared and dipped in a thin chocolate blancmange for breakfast. In Austrian cuisine, it is also boiled to make Marillenknödel, a sweet apricot dumpling; in that case it does not puff, but remains relatively dense.
Since mid 2015 I have moved to a Low Carb Healthy Fat (LCHF a.k.a Low carb High Fat) way of eating and have experimented with adapting a Choux Paste recipie by using almond and coconut flour – not very successful. There are some recipes out there that add whey protein to the recipe…. but not something I do. Back to the test kitchen for a couple of hours and got it sorted…. LCHF Choux Pastry. Had the lads out in the Garage fooled – thought it was the real thing!!!