Choux pastry is a really versatile pastry to have up your sleeve, it gives some people grief so I thought I’d do a quick how to before using it in a recipe.
Traditionally used for profiteroles, choux pastry can also be made into a great variety of lovely things, eclairs and gougere included!
120ml whole milk
115g butter, cubed
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
140g plain flour
5 large eggs
Makes 45 profiterole balls, 24 x 8cm mini eclairs or 12 full size eclairs.
Place the water and milk into a large saucepan, with the butter, salt and sugar.
Have your eggs ready and the flour in a bowl on standby!
Heat the pan over a low heat until the butter is melted.
Turn up the heat and bring it to a rolling boil. Turn the heat down to medium.
Add all the flour to the pan and with a wooden spoon mix for your life.
As the flour incorporates the mixture will come together and lift from the sides of the pan.
Turn off the heat and remove.
One by one add the eggs mixing well after adding each.
It will seem like it’s never going to incorporate but all of a sudden it does don’t worry.
You will need a strong mixing arm – keep going!
After the addition of one egg.
After two eggs
After three eggs
After four eggs
Five eggs added – the perfect choux pastry
Once all the eggs are combined you will have a thick glossy choux pastry that’s ready to use. It should hold it’s shape when you dollop or pipe it.
For profiteroles/choux balls shape with a desert spoon and lay on baking trays lined with greaseproof paper or bake o glide.
For long eclairs pipe the mixture from a piping bag fitted with a round open 1cm nozzle.
If your choux pastry has ‘tails’ use a dampened finger to push them back into shape.
Bake in the oven at 180c Fan/200c/Gas Mark 5 for 15-20 minutes until lovely puffy and golden.
Now here’s the important bit – although they are nice a crisp and golden on the outside there is still steam and moisture trapped inside. Take a sharp knife and make a slit in each choux bun, place them back on the tray and pop them back in the oven for 3 minutes until they are nice and dry on the inside.
If you skip this stage and moisture in the bun will soften the choux and make it soggy and limp.
If you’re making long eclair type choux, instead of just a slit I cut them in half using a sharp pair of kitchen scissors before laying them open on the tray and then back in the oven to dry out. Just make sure you keep each pair together side by side so you know which is the right top for the right bottom!
You can keep choux shells once baked for 24 hours in an airtight container if you wanted to make them in advance. If they seem less crisp refresh in a hot oven for two minutes before using.Once filled with cream, custard or whatever takes your fancy they are best served straight away as they will start to absorb the moisture from the filling and start to go soggy.You can bake and then freeze right away, when defrosted refresh in the oven to crisp up for a couple of minutes before filling.You can also open freeze piped dough before baking. Baking from frozen you will need to add five minutes or so to the baking time .
Ruth Clemens, Baker Extraordinaire
Finalist on BBC2 The Great British Bake Off