”I’ve given up watching television,” she said. ”I watch my oven instead” – Baking, From My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan
Literally. Thats what I did as I watched my cream puffs sizzle and firm up inside my Morphy Richards.
Have made Choux paste for Eclairs before, and I always thought the initial procedure was slightly similar to making the paste for our Idiyappams
(String hoppers,a delicious South Indian breakfast )
I was super excited to make it this time, the recipe from Pastry Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer’s, book, The Art of French Pastry. If you saw “Kings of Pastry“, you know what i am saying.
Have always felt that cream puffs is a child’s dream…you bite into an unassuming lil pastry, only to have it shatter between your teeth and give way to a silky smooth cold cream. Its a very unique feeling, in a very nice way.
Had it quite a few times as a kid and i always thought it tasted really good. So simple and so satisfying…nothing is too much in a cream puff. Its just there, leaving a slight tease in the mouth, making you wonder where the cream puff vanished so quick!
There are a few things to look out for when you make cream puffs. I so wanted the shatter to be there as you bite into one, ‘coz the dangers of having a soggy pastry loomed large. And then, its a lil fussy dessert in the serving, it tastes best within three hours of being made…what good is a thing if you can’t share it with friends??
I did my bit of research, I wanted a larger yield as i was baking for a slightly larger group, and Chef Jacquy’s recipe fit the bill. He has clear cut instructions as well, and it is like taking a class in Choux Paste.
The Art of French Pastry, is a very carefully written book, with tremendous attention to detail and interspersed with beautiful life stories and the journey that Chef Jacquy took as a pastry Chef to reach where he is at now. Not to mention the fantastic recipes, from the second generation master baker, who along with Pastry Chef Sébastien Canonne, has co-founded The French Pastry School.
Like how a book reviewer on Amazon aptly said,”If you can’t be there in person, this is the next best thing.”
I assembled my pastries before time, (filled it with Cream Diplomat, don’t be intimidated if you are new to pastry, its just a combination of pastry cream, one of the simplest things to make under a watchful eye, and whipped cream) and refrigerated my puffs till serving time. The proof is in the eating, and i kept wondering about whether it would still have the ‘shatter’.
Upon serving, people din’t go gung-ho abt it. But I guess thats what cream puffs do…they make you wonder, ‘Where did my cream puff disappear???’
It was all gone in a matter of seconds though, and when a person who usually avoids dessert asked me if there was more so he could sample another one, I knew the cream puffs were doing their thing. I had my moment of truth, when someone who was standing behind me, bit into their cream puff, and I heard the distinctive CCCrunch!!
I know my pictures do no justice to these lauded French baked confections, and that is a lousy excuse to say that i was hard pressed for time, but try the recipe and you will not miss the picture!
INGREDIENTS FOR THE CHOUX PASTE (Recipe from The Art of French Pastry by Jacquy Pfeiffer, re-printed with permission)
PÂTE À CHOUX (CHOUX PASTE)
YIELD ( ENOUGH FOR ABOUT 80 PUFFS)
Whole milk (3.5% fat) | 125 grams
½ cup Water | 125 grams
½ cup plus 2½ teaspoons Butter (French style, 82% fat, I used Amul, 80% fat) | 110 grams
3¾ ounces or 7½ tablespoons Granulated sugar | 5 grams
1 teaspoon Sea salt (I used regular) | 2 grams
¼ teaspoon All-purpose flour, sifted | 140 grams
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Whole eggs | 220 grams plus extra as needed | 4 to 5 eggs, as needed
MIXING THE DOUGH
1) Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Line sheet pans with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, water, butter, sugar, and sea salt. Stir together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, and then exchange the spatula or spoon for a whisk. Bring it to a full boil. Once it comes to a boil and you see that the butter and sugar are well incorporated into the milk, turn off the heat. You don’t want to reduce the liquid. It’s important to have a uniform mixture at this point; there should be no lumps of unmelted butter.
2) Add the sifted flour to the liquid mixture in one quick addition and immediately whisk vigorously so that the mixture comes together. You have about 30 seconds to do this. No need to panic, but work quickly and efficiently. If you whisk too slowly you risk getting lumps of flour, and once lumps form in a pâte à choux you will, unfortunately, never be able to make them disappear. You will see lumps right after you add the flour, but after 30 seconds of whisking it should be a uniform mass.
3) Place the pan back on medium heat, switch back to the rubber spatula or wooden spoon, and cook, stirring all the while, until dry, about 1 minute. What you are doing at this point is cooking the protein in the flour that you just added. The mixture is ready when it congeals in a lump and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. It will make a sort of hissing sound when it begins to stick.
4) Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer it to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Run some water into your pan and let it stand to loosen the thin layer of dough sticking to the bottom of the pan; it will come off easily with a little soaking.)
5) Have 220 grams of eggs (usually 4 extra large) ready, and beat an extra egg to set aside, in case your dough seems dry. Mix the dough on medium speed for 30 seconds, then turn the speed to low and begin adding the eggs, 1 at a time, beating on medium speed until each egg is incorporated into the dough before adding the next one. Each time you add an egg turn the speed down to low so that you don’t get splashed with egg if it catches the paddle at the right moment. Once you’ve added 2 of the eggs, stop the mixer, take off the bowl and paddle, and scrape the bottom of the bowl to mix in the layer of dough adhering to the bowl. Then return to the mixer and add the remaining eggs following the same procedure.
6) Now you must ascertain whether the pâte à choux is the right consistency. Stop the machine, take the bowl and beater off, and scrape up any dough that is sticking to the bottom. Beat briefly to incorporate. Pull out the beater. If the consistency is right, when you pull the paddle up the dough sticking to the paddle should hang down in a V shape. If it does not, the dough needs more liquid, either some beaten egg or a little warm milk. But you must be careful adding liquid, because if you add too much your pâte à choux will turn to soup and you’ll have to begin all over again. There’s no fixing a soupy choux pastry by adding flour. So add a teaspoon of egg or milk at a time, and each time you add and beat in a little more, check the consistency again. Adjust until you get the V-shaped ribbon when you lift the paddle from the dough.
7) Once your dough is the right consistency, transfer enough choux pastry to a pastry bag fitted with a ?-inch round tip to fill the bag halfway.Pipe the desired shapes—1¼-inch rounds (for all cream puffs), 1½-inch ovals (for Salambos, 3- to 3½-inch strips (for Éclairs), 1-inch rounds (for Croquembouche)—onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Continue piping with the remaining choux pastry. Brush the surface of the pastries evenly with a little bit of egg wash. With the tines of a fork, make a slight impression on the surface. This will help the puff to rise evenly. At this point the choux pastry can be frozen unwrapped on the sheet trays. Once frozen, wrap the pieces in plastic wrap and store in a container or in freezer bags. Before baking, place on parchment paper–covered sheet pans and allow to return to room temperature.
1) Make sure that the oven is fully preheated to 400°F/200°C before you bake the pastries. The high heat causes the protein in the eggs and flour to congeal together and create a soft shell, and forces the water in the pâte à choux to steam, which is what makes the pastries puff. If the oven isn’t hot enough your product will be flat and dense. Place a sheet pan in the oven and bake until the pastries rise, which should take 10 to 12 minutes.
2) Once the pastries have risen, lower the oven temperature to 325°F/160°C. You now need to bake them long enough for them to form a crust so that they’ll hold their shape and dry out completely. Otherwise they’ll be doughy. This should take 25 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the pastries.
3) When they are done they are very golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. You can freeze them at this stage as well.
Freeze them on the sheet pan; once they are frozen, transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bags.
The choux pastries should be dark golden brown on the outside and hollow with a little moisture in the middle.
At the raw or baked stage pâte à choux can be kept frozen for about 1 month.
Usually we do not keep baked pâte à choux refrigerated for more than 1 day because it will become soggy.
Let the baked pâte à choux thaw out at room temperature and then flash them in a 400°F/200°C oven for 1 minute. Thaw unbaked pâte à choux at room temperature before baking.
Vanilla Pastry Cream Filling (from the old Godiva Recipe site)
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Place sugar and 1 cup milk in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved.
Increase heat until mixture boils.
2. Place cornstarch in medium bowl. Using wire whisk, gradually whisk in remaining milk and whisk until mixture is smooth. Add yolks and whisk until well blended.
3. Slowly pour 1/3 cup hot milk into yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in remaining hot milk. Return milk-yolk mixture to saucepan and heat to a boil over medium heat. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.
4. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. (If pastry cream is lumpy, pass it through a sieve.) Transfer pastry cream to a non-reactive bowl.
Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto surface of cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold.
I added a cup (?) of whipped cream to the pastry cream, and folded in before I piped it into the Cream Puffs.
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