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Choux pastry or pâte à choux is a cooked pastry that can be spooned or piped and baked into delicate choux puffs or eclairs that have a crispy exterior and hollow interior. The hollow is perfect for filling with pastry cream, custard cream or savory fillings.
During my teens, my first attempts at making choux pastry from recipes in magazines or books were complete failures to moderately successful. Until I found the perfect choux pastry recipe in my well loved Snowflake recipe file. I’ve used this recipe for more than thirty years and have never had a flop.
This choux pastry is versatile and can be used for both eclairs and sweet or savory puffs. The addition of chili flakes, fresh chopped herbs and paprika makes an awesome savory version.
For a savory choux puff try these Turkish inspired Circassion Chicken Choux Puffs that I developed when my cousin’s daughter needed a flop proof recipe to make for her home economics class.
Top tips for making choux pastry
- Use unsalted cold butter. If the butter is soft it melts too quickly and gives the dough an oily look and feel.
- Use cake flour for tender puffs.
- Bring the water to the boil over a medium heat so that the butter is melted by the time the water boils. Do not overboil because it will evaporate too much of the liquid, leaving the eclair dense when it bakes.
- Stir the flour into the water and oil mixture vigorously to make a roux and cook it out until it comes free from the sides but leaves a little residue.
- Cool the roux down a bit before adding the eggs. Either by beating with a wooden spoon or in a stand mixer.
- Add the eggs one at a time and don’t add the next until the previous one is fully incorporated. It will look lumpy and as if it won’t come together but don’t give up, just a few turns more and it will gel.
- The dough should be shiny and not too runny or too stiff.
- Bake at a high temperature to ensure it rises and then let it bake out at a lower temperature.
- Prick a hole in the side or bottom (depending how you plan to fill it) and return to the switched off oven with the door open to dry out remain crisp.
- 65 grams cold butter approximately 1/4 cup or 1/2 stick
- 125 ml water approximately 1/2 cup
- 70 grams cake flour approximately 125 ml or 1/2 cup
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ml salt
For savory choux add
- 15 ml chopped fresh herbs like thyme approximately 1 tablespoon
- 1.25 ml chili flakes approximately 1/4 tsp
- 1.25 ml paprika approximately 1/4 tsp
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius/ 180 celcius with fan / 400 F / Gas mark 6.
- Add the butter and water to a saucepan or small pot and allow to come to a boil slowly.
- For the best results ensure that the water does not boil before the butter has melted.
- Remove the pot off the heat and add all the flour and salt.
- Beat the flour into liquid ensuring that there are no lumps of flour and return to the heat and stir until the dough forms a ball and comes away from the sides.
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool for at least five minutes.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.
- Ensure that the eggs are all incorporated and that the pastry is stiff and glossy.
- For choux puffs place teaspoonfuls on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. For bigger puffs use tablespoonfuls.
- For eclairs pipe in long lengths.
- Bake for 10 minutes at 200 degrees celcius/ 180 celcius with fan / 400 F / Gas mark 6.
- Turn down the heat and bake for a further 10 -15 minutes (depending on size of choux puffs) at 180 degrees celcius/ 160 celcius with fan / 350 F / Gas mark 4.
- I prick a hole in the side with a wooden skewer and allow it to dry out in the oven that has been switched off.
- Fill with desired sweet or savory filling when cooled.
Disclaimer: Nutritional information for the recipe is an approximation and varies according to the ingredients and products used.
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