So, in the quest to take on those things that I thought were impossible, I tackled choux pastry quite early on in my #batchfromscratch journey. In fact, I’ve done it a few times and using a couple of different methods with differing results:
- KitchenAid following cooking on the stove;
- Using the Thermomix and then in the oven;
I now feel experienced enough to write about it. The recipe and method I’ve chosen to use is the non-automated way, so you get to know about all of the processes and dependent on how you pipe the choux onto the baking parchment, makes between 25-30 choux buns. I hope you enjoy it and make as much mess as I did (sorry Sarah!).
As an intro, choux pastry is the lightest, crispiest, airiest pastry, which can be used to make profiteroles (also called choux buns) and also éclairs. It puffs up in the oven until it is eventually set by the heat. The airiness, I learnt recently from reading Martha Collinson’s book, is caused because choux has a high water content, which is turned into steam during baking and this forces the pastry shell outwards and gives it volume.
- 60g of strong plain flour
- Tsp of caster sugar
- 150ml cold water
- 50g of unsalted butter cut into small bits
- 2 large eggs
- 150g of plain/dark chocolate (60-75pc cocoa)
- 150g of milk chocolate
NB: This makes for a lovely mix of dark, but not too bitter. If you like your topping darker then replace the milk chocolate with dark chocolate
The filling – creme pat
Take a look at the this recipe to make a batch.
Grab you flour and put in the crease of some baking parchment that’s been folded in half. This approach allows you to quickly shoot the flour quickly into the water and melted butter. Sift the flour straight on to the square of paper and add a teaspoon of caster sugar (if you want to make savoury choux, you can add salt and pepper in its place).
Next, put the cold water in a medium-sized saucepan together with the butter and then place the saucepan over a moderate heat and stir with a wooden spoon. As soon as the butter has melted and the mixture comes up to the boil, turn off the heat immediately, as too much boiling will evaporate some of the water.
Then tip the flour in – all in one go – with one hand, while you beat the mixture vigorously with the other. You can do this with a wooden spoon or whisk, though an electric hand whisk will save you lots of energy. Beat until you have a smooth ball of paste that has left the sides of the saucepan clean – this will probably take just under a minute.
Next beat the eggs well, then beat them into the mixture – a little at a time, mixing each addition in thoroughly before adding the next. Beat until you have a smooth glossy paste. At this stage, lightly grease a baking sheet and then run your hand under a tap and drop a few bits of water on the baking sheet. This will help create a steamier atmosphere, which, in turn, helps the pastry to rise.
Pre-heat the oven to 200C / 400F / gas mark 6. To make the choux buns, I prefer to transfer the mixture to a piping bag and pipe onto the baking sheet. However, if you look at more traditional cooks, such as Delia they talk about using a teaspoon instead to drop the pastry, which creates a more rustic look. Whatever you choose, place the mixture on the baking sheet, leaving 1 inch (2.5 cm) between them, then bake on a high shelf in the oven. After that, increase the heat to 220C / 425F / Gas mark 7 and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until the buns are crisp, light and a rich golden colour. The method discussed is for choux buns / profiteroles, however you can easily pipe long lines to create eclairs (you definitely need a piping bag for these, the spooning the mixture method doesn’t work as well/at all!).
Pierce the side of each one to let out the steam, then cool them on a wire rack. Once cooled, you can eat them as they are, or you can pipe them full of creme patisserie and top with chocolate. I always fill the choux with creme pat, before topping with melted chocolate and then finally putting somewhere cold, so the cream doesn’t spoil.
If you have a go at them, please let me know what you think. Good luck.