Often regarded as a challenge in the kitchen, by following a few basic rules you too can produce perfect choux pastry. Perfect for filling with crème patissière or other indulgences.
- 125g water
- 125g whole milk
- 100g butter
- 5g salt (1/2 tsp)
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 150g plain flour
- 4 medium eggs – room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/ Gas 6. Line 2 large baking sheets with non-stick parchment paper.
- In a large saucepan, combine the water, butter, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a tight dough forms and pulls away from the side of the pan, 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
- In a bowl, beat 4 1/2 eggs and add to the dough in four batches, stirring vigorously between additions until the eggs are completely incorporated and the pastry is smooth. You can also use an electric stand mixer for this, which is less effort. The dough should be glossy and very slowly hang, stretch and fall from the spoon in thick ribbons. If necessary, beat in the remaining ½ egg.
- Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe 1 1/2-inch mounds onto the baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between them to allow for expansion. (If you haven’t got a piping bag and nozzle, use a medium-sized plastic sandwich bag that you can seal the top of. Cut off a corner about the size of a £1 coin and use that instead to pipe out the mounds).
- Turn oven down to 180C once you have put the choux in the oven. Depending on size of choux e.g. profiteroles, bake for 15 minutes at 180C/gas 4. Turn off heat and leave to dry in the residual heat of the oven for 20 minutes or so. For Paris-Brest or éclairs, bake for 20 minutes and again, turn off oven and the residual heat will dry the shells to crispy. (Do not open oven door after 10 minutes or so to check progress, as the choux will not have set and will partly or fully collapse!)
- Try to leave filling the choux until an hour or two before you intend to serve them, as any filling will gradually reduce the crispness. Classical fillings are French Pastry Cream, or Chantilly Cream. You can also add a small amount of jam to the base of split choux before piping in the cream. They can also be dipped into melted chocolate, dark or white.
- To fill a profiterole or éclair, make a small hole in the base of the pastry, and use a piping bag with a nozzle that has a small opening to pipe in the filling. (For this step, you will need a piping bag and nozzle. But you can split the pastry and fill with a teaspoon instead).
- Recipe makes 35 small choux; 18 éclairs; 14 Paris –Brest approx. Can be stored – unfilled – for up to 5 days in an airtight container.