How to Make Pâte à Choux

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I can hardly believe that Thanksgiving is next week! The fall season has been a whirlwind for our family. Matthew and I recently returned from a fantastic 10 day trip to France and Belgium. We struck a nice balance of relaxation and fun sightseeing activities. Highlights included a chocolate and beer tour in Brussels and tickets to the ballet at the Paris Opera! It seemed as though our vacation was over before we knew it, and then it was back to reality. That reality meant adjusting back to our time zone, recovering from a cold for Matthew, and both of us attending conferences out of state. Whew. It feels like we’re finally settled now!

Speaking of fall…I couldn’t be more excited that today marks our fall baking competition at work! I love brainstorming ideas and testing out new recipes. However, there is also a certain amount of pressure involved in a baking competition. I decided to think a little outside of the box with my dessert entry this year. Instead of going with the typical fall flavors of pumpkin or apples, I decided to try a LEMON dessert! I love lemon because it’s so light and refreshing.

So let’s talk about this lemon-inspired dessert. I decided to make miniature cream puffs and fill them with a mixture of lemon curd and whipped cream. I garnished them with lemon glaze and candied lemon. Cream puffs are made from a light pastry dough called pâte à choux. This dough is quite simple and contains only butter, water, flour, and eggs. There is no leavening agent, and instead the high moisture content creates steam during the baking process to puff the pastry. I really like this dough because it’s simple and you can fill it up with anything your heart desires. Since these buns are so versatile, I’m simply sharing the recipe for the choux pastry. After that, let your imagination guide the way!

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How to Make Pâte à Choux
The Pastry Cookbook by Michel Roux

Ingredients
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons butter, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 medium eggs
Egg-wash (1 medium egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon milk)

Directions
Combine the milk, water, butter, salt, and sugar in a pan and set over low heat. Bring to a boil and immediately take the pan off the heat. Shower in the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until completely smooth. Return the pan to medium heat and stir continuously for about 1 minute to dry out the paste, and then tip it into a bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating with the wooden spoon. Once the eggs are all incorporated, the paste should be smooth and shiny with a thick ribbon consistency. It is now ready to use.

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. For small choux buns, put the paste into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch tip. Pipe small mounds in staggered rows onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or directly onto a greased baking sheet. Brush the choux with egg-wash and lightly mark the tops with the back of a fork. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the outside of the buns is dry and crisp but the inside is still soft. Cool on a wire rack.

Once buns are cooled use a pastry bag to fill the choux buns with your filling of choice. Feel free to be creative. Pudding, custard, whipped cream, and jam are all viable option depending on the flavor you want to achieve. If you’d like a chocolate topping, melt chocolate over a double boiler and dip buns in the chocolate to coat. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
Cool the dough slightly before adding the eggs. If you add the eggs right away, the hot dough will cook them, thereby preventing the eggs from doing their puff job. Some bakers cool the dough in the pan off the heat, while others transfer the dough to a stand mixer and beat it on low speed for a minute or two to cool off.

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11 thoughts on “How to Make Pâte à Choux

  1. Ahh..the great Michel Roux! He appears here on TV in the UK on Masterchef, he’s great! These delightful little buns (easier to type, ha!) sound divine. Lemon is my favourite! Did you win the competition? You should! Oh Heather, what a wonderful time away for you and Matt (we were practically neighbours for a short while!), but I’m sorry for your colds. I’ve had one recently too, they’re not fun. I hope you’re both well and ready for tomorrow, and I wish you a very Happy and Healthy and Delicious Thanksgiving my friend! :-) <3

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    • I didn’t realize that he was such a celebrity?! My dad gave me his cookbook a couple of Christmases ago and I’ve had great success with the recipes that he uses! I did indeed win the baking competition Sherri! We have quite a few talented bakers at my work so I was pretty excited :) We actually considered adding a trip to London to our travels but we just didn’t have enough time. Something to save for next time I suppose! I hope that you had a lovely weekend Sherri. I know you are working on your memoir and I hope that the creative juices are flowing and that you’re able to snag some time to do some writing!

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      • How wonderful to have one of his cookbooks Heather…what a great gift! I am not surprised you’ve had so many successes with his recipes. From what I’ve seen on TV, they are amazing! And I just had a feeling you would have won, congratulations my friend! Oh I wish you could have come to London. If you ever do…oh how wonderful to meet you! Ahh…thank you so much, I am getting on well, or I was until I entered this very busy time of year! I’m trying to squeeze out a couple more blog posts before signing off for Christmas, so my memoir writing won’t be as productive, but I feel I’m back in the flow and actually, taking short breaks inbetween helps with the ‘simmering’ process. You are so kind to ask how things are going. I hope you’re having a good week so far too…no doubt with plenty of lovely Christmassy baking ideas soon to share! :-) <3

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  2. I love that you decided to freshen up fall with some lemon! Sometimes I feel as though pumpkin gets a little overplayed. I also think that lemon would pair nicely with the cranberries at Thanksgiving dinner! This looks like it will make a nice addition to a Thanksgiving dessert spread.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Mary! I definitely agree that pumpkin gets a little overplayed around the holidays. I never thought of the lemon + cranberry combination but you’re right, that would be perfect for a dessert spread! Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday!

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  3. I adore cream puffs, and they look delicious! I love the idea of using lemon. How did you do in the competition? I am sorry I missed your post! Have a wonderful weekend and Happy December my friend :D

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