Update October 11, 2016: Just finished watching an episode of Paul Hollywood City Bakes on SBS Food Network, and finally found the answer as to why the need to add milk in making choux pastry! According to Paul, the addition of milk makes a softer choux pastry; use water only if making choux to construct something such as the croquembouche tower as this gives a firmer choux bun.
Finally I found time to make the milk version of the choux pastry. Well, I must say they don’t taste that much different to the no-milk version! As I don’t have the two versions to compare side-by-side, it is hard to say, but this milk version might have a more aromatic buttery smell while they were baking. Apart from that, I can’t tell any other differences at all in terms of taste.
I also decided to try out the choux swans shaping. As this was my first time doing the swan shapes, I was still trying to perfect my piping skill so they didn’t look that good… So I won’t write the step-by-step descriptions for now, just a series of photos at the end of this post to show how to assemble the swans. I think I also made them just a tad too big and they looked clumsy! Not graceful at all… Next time I should reduce the size to just about 5-6cm long for more petit swans.
Makes approx. 15 swans
125ml (1/2 cup) water
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
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 use unsalted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the recipe.
1. Preheat oven to 210°C. In a saucepan, bring water, milk, sugar and butter (add salt if using unsalted butter) to a rapid boil. As soon as the liquid boils, remove from heat, and add in flour all at once, stirring quickly with a wooden spoon to mix in. Return to stove and over medium heat, beat the mixture until it forms a ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan. Beat 1 to 2 more minutes over low heat to thoroughly cook the flour. Turn off heat and cool the mixture for about 5 minutes in the pan.
2. Beat one of the eggs lightly in a small bowl and set aside. Add the remaining three eggs, one by one, to the warm dough mixture, and beat quickly with the wooden spoon after each addition 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. After adding the first three eggs, take the reserved beaten egg and add gradually to the mixture and beat in as before and check for the consistency of the batter. 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 plain round or star nozzle. Pipe out shapes as required to make profiteroles, éclairs, or cygnes (swans) 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. 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 to 15 minutes, then turn oven temperature down to 180°C and bake for a further 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. Turn off oven and leave the shells for 10 to 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!
These were the swans I made, and they were just too big – rain-drop shaped 4cm wide by 8cm long for bodies using size-11 round tip, and about 8cm long ‘2’ shaped for necks & heads using size-5 round tip (bake necks for about 20 minutes only).
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): ‘Choux Pastry’ recipe by MasterChef Australia judges Gary Mehigan & George Colombaris