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Choux pastry may seem difficult to make but we would like to assure you that. This dough is base for French classics such as profiteroles, eclairs and cream puffs. It differs from other pastries in the fact it's cooked twice, once on the stove and then again in the oven.
For making perfect choux pastry dough follow our STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE with instructions and photos you will find below.
The name comes from the french word "choux" meaning cabbage - as these pastries reminds of little cabbages when they come out from the oven. This dough is cooked twice, once on the hob and then again baked in the oven.
Choux pastry is slightly thicker than a batter, but not quite as thick as a dough.
Each of these ingredients play specific role in the dough. Some recipes use also sugar but we will skip this in this recipe.
The pastry is thick enough so it can be scooped or piped into almost any shape you want, from small puffs, eclaires, profiteroles etc. These pastries don't contain any yeast or other leavening.
Choux pastry are usually filled with pastry cream, coconut cream, whipped cream, lemon or orange curds, ice-cream or any other fillings. You can drizzle with either caramel or chocolate or dust with icing sugar or top with pearl sugar.
Or go savory! Cheesy gougères are made just by folding shredded cheese into the batter before scooping and baking. You can also add ground black pepper or other spices. We love serving these as an appetizer or a side dish for parties.
Making choux pastry is 3-step process. First the dough is made by adding flour to water and butter mixture, then the dough is cooked on the stovetop for a few minutes to dry it out and cook the flour and finally eggs are added to the dough.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (392°F) and line the baking sheet with baking paper. Brush the baking paper with water. This will help puffs to rise better as the water will turn into the steam and rise the puffs.
Place water, cubed butter and pinch of salt into a heavy-based saucepan. Heat on a medium heat until the butter is melted. Bring to the simmer then immediately remove from the heat.
DON'T LET THE WATER BOIL FOR TOO LONG. For this reason cut the butter into smaller pieces so they melt quickly and water don't evaporates.
Tip the flour very quickly into the saucepan (so that it cooks evenly), stir vigorously with a wooden spoon while you add the flour, then continue to beat until the mixture comes away from the sides of the saucepan and the film forms on the bottom of the saucepan.
Transfer the mixture to the heatproof bowl and leave to cool for a few minutes.
The only potentially tricky step is adding eggs. If you add too many eggs, the dough will be too liquid and you'll have trouble piping it, and the pastries will have trouble puffing in the oven.
To prevent this, first whisk the eggs separately in one bowl and with the electric mixer running, add the eggs in three additions. Check after two additions if the dough is ready - it will hold its shape when scooped and look smooth and glossy. If needed add the rest of the eggs (by tablespoon) just until the dough is smooth and shiny.
It may look first like the mixture is separating, but as you continue to mix it will turn into a thick glossy paste. Instead of using hand mixer you can also beat with a wooden spoon but it will take longer.
Spoon the choux pastry dough into a piping bag and make desired shapes directly on the baking sheet. Shape anything you want - from small mounds, profiteroles...
Pipe little mounds about 3 cm apart on the baking paper. You can also use a plastic freezer bag and cut off the corner for easy piping.
Puffs need high temperature to rise so bake first 15-20 minutes at 200°C (392°F) then reduce temperature to 180°C (356°F) and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
Don't open the oven while pastries cooks, as cool air will prevent them from properly puffing up. Exact baking time will depend on the size and shape of your puffs.
Bake until the pastries are slightly puffed, golden brown and dry to the touch. If you open one puff, it shouldn't be wet or eggy on the inside.
Transfer the puffs to a wire rack and poke each one with a toothpick. This release the steam from the inside and helps prevent the puffs from getting soggy.
Once cooled, fill puffs with desired fillings. This amount of dough will make 24 small puffs.
Uncooked choux pastry can be stored in the fridge for 2 days. Just place in the freezer bag, tightly close and keep in the fridge until ready to use. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before shaping and baking.
FREEZING RAW PUFFS: If you want to freeze choux pastry puffs, we suggest to freeze raw puffs. Shape the puffs using a piping bag on a sheet lined with aluminium foil. Place it in the freezer for about 20 minutes until they firm up then transfer to the plastic bag and return to the freezer. You can keep them for up to 3 months.
When you want to prepare them, just thaw for 2 - 3 minutes and bake as usual. Puffs will be perfect and delicious this way. This is better than freezing baked puffs.
FREEZING BAKED PUFFS: Just baked them, poke each with a toothpick and cool completely. Place in a plastic bag and freeze. You can keep them like this for 3 months.
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