Choux pastry is highly used in French baking. We do eclairs, sugar puffs, religieuses, gougeres (cheese puff), croquembouche, profiterolles (vanilla ice cream & chocolate puff) etc. It is one of the basic recipe that you must add to your personal cookbook if you want to bake French. It took me few attempt before I mastered the technique. Few steps are really hard to get but after few trial you will think it is easy. First thing to know: you will not always have to use the whole quantity of eggs given by the recipe. It really depends on the size of eggs and quality of the flour. You know that you add enough eggs when the dough form a nice ribbon on your spatula. It should slowly flow as a ribbon from the spatula to the bowl but never be liquid.
The next important step is ‘drying’ the dough. When you added the flour the dough will form a ball. It is really important to reheat the ball under medium heat to evaporate the extra water stuck in the dough. You know it is ready when a thin layer of dough stick to the saucepan.
Finally the cooking step. This one is also a bit tricky. It is hard to advice on cooking time as all oven are different and in this case it is more a drying step rather than a cooking. The color will be the best indicator to know if it is ready. What is really annoyed me with choux pastry is that the choux flatten if you remove them too early from the oven. So my advice. Never ever open the oven door during the first 20 minutes of cooking or until they puffed up. The choux will create some cracks all around when puffing. If these cracks are yellow do not open the oven and keep cooking until lightly brown.
That is my main advice. Your choux should be crusty on the outside, plenty of air in the middle and a bit smooth inside.
- 166g of water
- 83g pasteurised milk lite
- 4g salt
- 5g white sugar
- 125g unsalted butter diced at room temperature
- 150g high grade flour
- 5 beaten eggs
- Make sure you measure all ingredients before you start.
- In a saucepan slowly bring to boil (medium heat) the water, milk, salt, sugar and butter.
- Remove from heat and add the sifted flour all at once and stir quickly with a wooden spoon. Return the saucepan under medium heat and keep stirring until a thin layer is forming on the bottom of the saucepan.
- It could takes until 3 minutes. It is ready when the dough form a smooth ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan.
- Then transfer the dough in a bowl and let cool for 3 minutes.
- Add the beaten egg in 5 times (quantity of one egg at a time).
- Stir well after each addition.
- Each time you add eggs the dough will split into small pieces. Keep stirring until the dough absorb the eggs.
- Usually the dough does not require the 5 full eggs.
- It really depends on the flour you used.
- The dough is ready when it is consistent – not too liquid and shiny- as on the picture available on my blog.
- Transfer the dough into a piping bag.
- Preheat oven at 200C.
- Cover a baking tray with baking paper or use a silicon mat.
- Pipe the eclairs on the baking tray. Length is about 15 cm.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Do not (never ever!) open the oven door until puffed up (around 10-20 minutes depending on their size).
- Transfer to a rack and let cool before use.
- Tips: You know the choux are cooked when all the choux cracks are well brown. If they are yellow keep cooking. If you undercooked them the choux will flatten when outside of the oven. The cooking time really depend of the choux size. An eclair required around 30-40 minutes at 200C and a choux around 20-30 minutes at 200C.