I have made several attempts at making pâte à choux, and finally, I got a success story to tell. Well, partly successful. I kind of over baked the cream puffs, but, at least they did not shrink on me. And they actually tasted quite good, even without the pastry cream filling.
All thanks to the recipe and advices from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery. The recipe is not that different from all the other recipes out there, but, worth a mention all the same:
Makes 18 puffs
125 grams water
68 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
1 gram salt
69 grams plain flour
1) Combine the water, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan, place over medium heat, and stir as the butter melts.
2) Once the butter has melted, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer, then remove the pan from the heat and, with a stiff heatproof or wooden spoon, stir in all of the flour.
3) Continue to stir for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture has a paste-like consistency, then place over medium heat and stir rapidly for 1 to 2 minutes, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and the bottom of the pan is clean; the dough should be glossy and smooth but not dry.
4) Immediately transfer the dough to the mixer bowl and mix on low for about 30 seconds to release some of the moisture.
5) Slowly begin adding the eggs, about 50 grams at a time, beating until each addition is completely absorbed before adding the next one. Continue adding the eggs until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl when pulled with the paddle but then grabs back on again. You may not need to add all the eggs.
6) Increase the speed to medium and mix for 15 seconds to be sure all of the eggs are incorporated. Stop the mixer. When the paddle is lifted, the dough should form a bird’s beak – it should hold its shape and turn down over itself but not break off. If the dough is too stiff, add the reserved egg.
7) Transfer the dough to a pastry bag and cool to room temperature.
The trick to get evenly sized and shaped cream puffs is to pipe the dough into semi sphere molds and allow it to set in the freezer. These can be baked directly from the freezer. But for now, I will not include the instructions on baking as, well, I was not quite so successful in that department, unfortunately. Stay tuned.