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Classic Cream Puffs
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Classic cream puffs, made of light choux pastry shells filled with vanilla scented pastry cream are everyone's favourite dessert. Combination of tasty choux pastry and delicious cream made these dessert so adorable.
These little puffs my seem complicated to make, but it's quite simple once you are familiar with all steps. Pastry cream is whipped up in 10 minutes with simple everyday ingredients such as milk, eggs, cornstarch...
In this dessert you will get familiar with magic of making choux pastry - which is also easy and simple - just divide into two steps. Follow our recipe below and you will be rewarded with these amazing creamy puffs your family and friends will adore.
Making pastry cream
Pastry cream is made so easily, in only 10 minutes. First prepare all ingredients: MILK, HEAVY CREAM, EGG YOLKS, SUGAR, CORNSTARCH plus some LEMON PEEL for extra citrus flavour.
- The process is easy - first heat milk, heavy cream with lemon peel in a saucepan. Leave aside for 3-4 minutes, then remove lemon peel.
- Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until combine.
- Slowly pour half of the milk into the egg mixture, whisking continuously, then pour back this into the saucepan. Cook on a low heat for 2-3 minutes. Cream will start to thicken immediately.
We recommend to strain the cream to get silky texture. Once strained, leave to cool for a few minutes, then keep in the fridge covered with cling film. Pastry cream can be enriched to get different flavours like in our recipe for coconut cream puffs.
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It is important to slowly pour the milk onto the cold eggs before you return the mixture to the pan to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Stir the pastry cream continuously, so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the saucepan.
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How to make choux pastry dough
Choux pastry may seem complicated to make, but it's quite easy and simple. This dough is first cooked on the stove, then shaped into rounds and baked in the oven until they are puffed and golden.
For the choux pastry you will need:
- PINCH OF SALT
First place water in a heavy-based saucepan together with a pinch of salt and butter cutted into smaller pieces. Heat until it start to simmer, then pour flour into it at once and cook until the ball of dough forms.
Use wooden spoon for beating the dough against the bottom of the pan. Transfer the dough into one bowl, slightly cool then add eggs and using electric mixer, form a smooth shiny dough.
For more useful tips and detailed explanation for making perfect choux pastry, check our detailed CHOUX PASTRY GUIDE with PHOTOS.
Shaping choux pastry puffs
Transfer the pastry dough into a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe as many puffs as you'd like, but keep them all the same size so they cook evenly.
From this dough you will get 20 medium-sized puffs. Pipe the dough in a circle and work your way up, but avoid making a peak. It will burn in the oven. If you make peaks, just flatten them down with your finger or a spoon.
How to shape choux puffs
Choux puffs can be shaped in two ways:
- The easiest way to shape the puffs is by transferring the dough into a piping bag then pipe small rounds on the sheet lined with baking paper.
- If you don' have a piping bag on hand, you can do this using two teaspoons. Just grab one teaspoon of the batter and slide on the baking sheet using another teaspoon.
When piping choux pastry hold the piping bag with your left hand in the bottom, and squeeze the piping bag on the top with right hand. Once you make a mound make a sharp, circular movement to stop.
Pipe the dough into conical shapes as this will result later in perfectly shaped crema puffs ideal for filling. Once you are done wet your finger and smooth down the points of each puff.
Baking choux pastry puffs
For baking choux pastry you need to preheat the oven to high temperature 200°C (392°F) to help the pastries puff, then lower slightly to help them cook and give some golden colour. 2 - 3 minutes before the end of baking, prick each puff with a toothpick to release the steam out.
Extra tips for choux pastry baking
- Don't open the oven while pastries cooks, as cool air will prevent them from properly puffing up. Bake until the pastries are slightly puffed, golden brown and dry to the touch.
- Sometimes puffs can be golden on the outside but still not cooked inside. If you take out puffs from the oven a bit too early they will deflate. The best way to check if they are ready is to take one puff from the oven, wait for 30 seconds and then cut to see if it is ready. It should be hard and not eggy inside and once cutted it should keep the form.
Filling cream puffs
Once the pastry cream is cooled, add vanilla bean paste, stir and spoon into piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe each shell with the pastry cream, the top. Dust with some icing sugar. Serve immediately, or keep in the fridge until serving.
Storing classic cream puffs
Cream puffs are best served the day they are made, but will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Looking for more dessert recipes? Check these out:
Classic Cream Puffs
MAKES: 20 cream puffs
COOKS IN: 50 minutes
For the pastry cream
- 4 egg yolks, from the fridge
- 55g caster (fine) sugar (1/4 cup)
- 30g cornstarch (1/4 cup)
- 300ml whole milk (1 1/4 cup)
- 110ml whipping cream 33-36% milk fat (1/3 cup + 2 tbsp)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
For the choux pastry
- 120ml water (1/2 cup)
- 56g butter (4 tbsp)
- 1 pinch of salt
- 80g plain flour (2/3 cup)
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- FOR THE PASTRY CREAM, place the milk in a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil.
- In heatproof bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch and sugar. Add some hot milk into this and whisk again.
- Pour egg mixture back into the rest of the milk and simmer on a low heat, whisking continuously for 2 minutes or until it thickens. Cover and leave to cool.
- FOR THE PUFFS, preheat the oven to 200°C/392°F and line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
- Place the cubed butter and water in a medium saucepan and heat until the butter has melted, then bring to a simmer.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the flour all at once. Return to the low heat and stir the dough it starts to pull away from the sides of the saucepan (1 - 2 minutes).
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the mixture to the bowl. Beat eggs aside then add 2/3 of the the whisked eggs and beat with an electric hand mixer at low speed for about a minute. Slowly add in the rest of the eggs, a little at a time, until the paste is smooth and glossy. This can also be done by hand using a wooden spoon.
- Spoon choux pastry dough into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe mounds of the size of a small walnut on the baking tray, leaving some spaces between. Gently smooth the peaks with finger. You can also use plastic bag and cut off the corner for easy piping.
- First bake in the oven preheated to 200°C/392°F for 13-15 minutes then reduce temperature to 180°C/356°F and bake for another 8-10 minutes. Don't open the oven while pastries cooks, as cool air will prevent them from properly puffing up. Bake until the pastries are slightly puffed, golden brown and dry to the touch.
- Transfer the puffs to a wire rack and using a serrated knife, immediately and carefully cut the puff shells in half, horizontally. Discard the soft dough from the bottom half of the shell. Set shells aside to cool.
- Spoon pastry cream into the piping bag fitted with large star tip and fill the choux pastry. Cover with the lid and dust with some icing sugar.
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