Choux pastry isn’t made like other types of pastry. Here the fat is put into a pan with water and when this has boiled, the flour is poured in and the mixture beaten.
It’s really important that you only beat the flour until the pastry is smooth and it only takes a few seconds.If you carry on beating the mixture at this stage, the pastry won’t rise. As simple as that. You need to use plain flour to get a really crisp result plus you need a strong gluten rich flour that you can buy anywhere.
Only once the eggs have been added, can you beat the pastry thoroughly and at this stage you can use your electric mixer for the first time on slow.
When it gets to the cooking bit, bake it in a hot oven but on a rising temperature. In other words, bake them for 10 minutes at 200 C and then complete the baking period for the length of time in the recipe at 215 – 220 C.
This will give you a brown, crisp choux because, if it’s still pale when you take it out of the oven, believe me, it will collapse. I also found that it’s best to bake these on a dampened baking sheet, in other words hold the sheet under the tap for a few seconds before you put them onto the sheet to bake them and then, my last tip, only once they have been baked, cooled down for a few seconds and removed from the tray, can you make a hole on the side of the pastry with a skewer (you can also use the point of thin knife) to release the steam and keep them crisp.
Don’t let them cool down completely and then try and make the hole because they’ll be all soggy by then. Of course you shouldn’t make more choux pastry than you need because it doesn’t keep well at all – you’ll need to use it within 2 – 3 hours and anyone that tells you that you can make your croquembouche in the morning before your dinner party is a bold faced liar.
Easy Basic Choux Pastry
- 250 ml water
- 60 g butter
- 75 g plain flour
- 2 eggs
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Put water and butter into a fairly large pot.
- Sift the flour onto a piece of paper because you’re going to put it all in the pot at once and it just makes adding the flour so much easier.
- Bring contents of the pot to the boil and when it’s bubbling pull the pot aside, allow the bubbles to subside and pour in all the flour at once, then stir briskly until everything is smooth – it will take seconds.
- Cool the mixture for about 5 minutes and then start beating in the eggs one at a time.
- If the eggs are big, break the last one into a separate little bowl and beat it with a fork – you may not need the whole egg.
- Add it slowly to make sure that the mixture remains firm and keeps its’ shape, if you don’t need the whole egg, set the thing aside.
- Beat the pastry for about 3 minutes until it looks all shiny and glossy.
- Now its’ ready to be piped out by using an éclair nozzle and if you don’t have one, make something similar from foil or parchment paper.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Then turn off the oven and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the puffs from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before filling or serving.
Serve with a yellow custard like zabaglione or make your own version of puff pastry.