Revisited – This is a re-posting of a recipe from my old blog, Café of the East.
In the past weeks, I’ve learnt something new again from watching MasterChef Australia. They include milk in their recipes to make choux pastry for both the Croquembouche and Coffee Éclairs recipes! I’m very tempted to try their version soon in the near future so I thought I would just put up this more traditional recipe without milk I’ve used a few times successfully before as a variation for comparison.
Making choux pastry is actually not that difficult if you know what to look for in the choux batter. The most important thing to remember is to get the right consistency of the batter, as that is what affects the result! Factors like water absorbency of the flour used, humidity in the kitchen, or even how long you boil the water and butter (evaporation) will affect the consistency of the batter (or the correct term, panada), so the addition of the eggs at the end is very important.
Never add all the eggs suggested by the recipe all at once, you should add them slowly and check for the batter consistency every time you mix some of the egg in. The right batter consistency should be just firm enough to hold its shape, but still soft enough to be piped out. One test to see if you have got the correct consistency is that the wooden spoon should be able to stand upright in it, then the panada is ready.
If you have never made choux pastry before, you just need to make it once and you will quickly grasp the concept. The baked choux shells should puff up with a hollow centre, just the ideal space to fill with the yummy pastry cream for making Profiteroles, vanilla cream for making Cream Puffs, or other cream filling of your choice!
Makes approx. a few dozen choux shells, depending on size
250ml (1 cup) water
100g butter *
1 teaspoon sugar
150g (1 cup) plain flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten, adjust accordingly as you may not need all of the eggs
* If you are using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to the recipe.
1. Preheat oven to 210°C. In a saucepan, bring water, sugar and butter (add a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter) to a rapid boil. Remove from heat, add in flour all at once, stirring quickly with a wooden spoon to mix in. Return to stove and over medium heat, keep stirring the mixture until it forms a ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan. Turn off heat and cool the mixture for about 5 minutes in the pan.
2. Beat three of the eggs lightly in a measuring jug. Pour 1/3 of the egg mixture into the dough mixture, beat quickly with the wooden spoon until the egg mixture is thoroughly absorbed. In the beginning, you might think that it will never be absorbed, but keep persisting and it will. Repeat two more times with the remaining egg mixture. After adding the first three eggs, break the last egg into the jug and beat lightly. Add about 1/3 of this first and beat in as before and check for the consistency of the batter after every addition. Lift up the wooden spoon, the batter should pull away like chewing gum and slowly break away. It should then droop from the spoon but barely able to drop down. Once you obtain this consistency, it is ready and stop adding any more egg!
3. Fill the choux batter into a piping bag fixed with a 1cm plain round or star nozzle. Pipe out, round shapes for profiteroles (pic #1) or finger shapes for éclairs, onto a lined or greased baking tray, spacing them apart. Use a wet finger to press down and smooth any pointy ends from piping if necessary (pic #2). Alternatively if you do not have a piping bag, just drop teaspoonfuls of choux batter onto the baking tray.
4. Bake at 210°C for 10 minutes, then turn oven temperature down to 180°C and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes (do not open oven door at any time during baking). The choux shells should have puffed by this time, are golden brown in colour and firm/crisp to the touch (pic #3). Turn off oven and leave the shells for 10 – 15 more minutes in the oven (with oven door slightly propped open) to dry out. If you want, you may take the choux shells out of the oven after turning it off and pierce a small hole in the base of each one, then return to the oven to dry out. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Store in airtight container if not serving immediately. Do NOT fill the choux shells too early, fill them only just before serving, or else they will get soggy! (pic #4)
Taste: Delicious choux pastries with creamy filling
Consume: Best served on the same day after filling
Storage: Store unfilled choux shells in airtight container for no more than one week; you may refresh the shells in 180°C oven for about 5 minutes then cool before filling
Recipe Reference(s): -