Good Food blog
How to make choux pastry
Choux pastry is the new cupcake, so here's how to make your own.
I learned how to make choux pastry last night. It felt like I was in an episode of the Great British Bake Off, with 12 of us taking a six-week course at legendary London cookery school Leiths.
I came away with a leek, mushroom and gruyere gougère, a box of cheese puffs and a bit of a sore arm, what with all the heavy copper pans and beating like crazy.
Apparently, choux pastry will be the new cupcake for 2013 (or so has been predicted) – so I’m learning just in time.
Choux pastry contains water and eggs and depends on steam rising inside it to produce a puffy, hollow pastry case, a bit like Yorkshire pudding batter. It’s used most often for profiterole and eclairs, but it can be used in savoury dishes – like the pie I made in my class.
The most important thing is to make sure that your ingredients are measured accurately and handled carefully, so that not a single bit of water, butter, flour or salt is lost.
70g plain flour, well sifted
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
Sift the flour 3-4 times to make sure it’s well aerated, which will help the pastry to rise.
Put the butter and water into a heavy-based saucepan and slowly bring to the boil. When the butter has melted completely, turn up the heat - you’re looking for a rolling boil, which means the mixture will be bubbling up the sides of the pan.
As soon as the mixture is boiling really fast, tip in the flour and salt and take the pan off the heat.
Beat the mixture like crazy with a wooden spoon, until it becomes thick and smooth.
Spread the mixture on a plate to cool it down.
When the mixture is cool, add the eggs a drop at a time and beat well after each addition to make sure it’s combined before adding more. At this stage, you are looking for a reluctant dropping consistency – or more specifically, it should take 5-7 seconds to drop off a spoon and it should look glossy.
Now you can use the choux pastry any way you want.
How to make cheese puffs
These are a real treat. Preheat the oven to 200C. Once you have made your choux pastry, add 55g of grated gruyere cheese and ½ teaspoon dried mustard and stir to combine.
Use 2 teaspoons to make round choux balls on a baking tray lined with baking paper, then put in the oven for 30 minutes, or until they are golden and as hard as ping pong balls.
Put a hole in each choux puff using a skewer or the end of the whisk attachment on an electric mixer, then pop them back in the oven for 5 minutes to dry the inside.
Have a go
Want to experiment with choux pastry? These easy chocolate eclairs have had great reviews, or try these glossy profiteroles.
And for the more adventurous, go for James Martin’s fried anchovies with spicy choux buns or Simon Rimmer’s crab profiteroles.
Rachel Allen also has a basic choux pastry recipe, which you can use any way you like.