If you can master choux you have the base for a myriad of gorgeous desserts. Pronounced ‘shoo’, it’s a light pastry dough that is central to the likes of profiteroles, éclairs, cream puffs and croquembouche. Choux is not restricted to sweet dishes; with the addition of parmesan or gruyère cheese and herbs you can make multiple savoury options. Cheese choux puffs are called gougeres, which make delicious appetisers served either warm or cold.
The secret to light, crisp puffs is a steamy oven and an ascending temperature. Splashing water on the tray creates steam, and increasing the oven temperature once the puffs have risen ensures they dry out to form hollow crisp shells.
Don’t limit yourself to individual puffs – choux pastry can be baked in a wreath shape, so balls of dough join together as they rise. It’s then split and filled. Get creative with your fillings; custard, icecream and mousse are good options, but use whatever you have – try chocolate spread folded through whipped cream.
Check out the detailed step-by-step instructions below.
How to make choux pastry
Prep + cook time 45 mins
1 cup boiling water
1 cup plain flour
4 eggs, size 6
- Preheat oven to 200°C. Boil water in the kettle. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter.
- Add the boiling water to the melted butter and stir while the mixture comes to the boil.
- Stir the butter and water, then while the mixture is at a rolling boil, dump in the flour in one go.
- Quickly mix in the flour until the dough cleanly leaves the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat.
- Cool the mixture slightly then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. This can be done in a processor if you have one.
- Beat the mixture until it is smooth and glossy. If adding cheese or herbs for a savoury version, do this now.
- Splash a small quantity of cold water from your fingertips onto cold, rimless oven trays.
- Spoon or pipe batter onto trays; smooth off peaks with a wet fingertip. Bake 10 mins at 200°C, then increase temperature to 220°C and bake a further 15-20 mins.
- The puffs should be biscuit-coloured and crisp to touch. Prick with a sharp knife to release steam and cool on a wire rack. When cold make a slit in the side and fill as desired.
Recipe by : Sophie Gray.
Photography by : Melanie Jenkins.
Video by : Jack Whelan.