Choux Pastry or Pâte à Choux (pronounced pata shoo) is, to me, one of the easiest pastries to make – ever! So many people are under the mistaken impression that it’s a difficult and lengthy process but how does 10 minutes from start to end sound? That includes getting the ingredients together – ok, ok, if you’re not as quick in the kitchen – 15 minutes, still sounds like a breeze, doesn’t it? The only hard part is a bit of elbow grease for all the stirring you’ll be doing!
Choux Pastry is what you need for profiteroles, éclairs, beignets, kue sus (Indonesian) & St Honoré Cake, just to name a few. Crispy on the outside & soft and airy on the inside, it can be sweet, filled with cream or ice cream or if you prefer, savoury, given to all sorts of filling, my favourite being the simple smoked salmon and cream cheese combination. The first time I made them, I was completely taken aback with how BIG they got in the oven, when there was absolutely no leavening agent used! It’s the very high moisture content in the dough that results in this rise, the steam forcing the pastry up and out.
This recipe is one I’ve been using since my very first visit to Paris many, many moons ago. The story goes like this: on the very first afternoon I was there, I popped in to a patisserie and picked up some French pastries for tea. The very first bite told me immediately that this was definitely different from what I’d been making, so I went back the next morning for another purchase and a little conversation! Madame told me that they use milk in their pâte à choux. “Combien du lait?” to which she replied “demi!” & went about her task. Needless to say, as soon as I got home to London, I made choux pastry with half the milk to the total liquid content. Amazing! The result was a marginally richer, more well rounded but still extremely light pastry but I tell you, it made all the difference!
Here’s the Choux Pastry recipe, folks, give it a try, you can have homemade choux pastry to profiteroles or éclairs inside an hour! No more almost-like-rubber shop bought one! Variation for a savoury choux comes after.
Ingredients (1 portion)
100ml whole milk
1 tsp caster sugar
pinch of salt
120g plain flour, sifted
3 large eggs, lightly beaten, just to mix
1. Place the water, milk, butter, sugar & salt in a medium sized saucepan on a low heat and let it come to boil.
2. As soon as it comes to boil, remove from heat and sprinkle the flour, beating with a wooden spoon, until it all comes together.
3. Put it back on low heat and continue stirring for another minute, your dough should all come away smoothly from the pan.
4. Add the eggs and continue beating with the wooden spoon or for a faster result, use a hand held whisk, until the dough starts coming together once again.
5. Lose the whisk and finish with a wooden spoon.
It’s all done, ready to be used for a number of creations. Will make about 20 medium-large profiteroles or 10-12 éclairs.
For savoury choux, lose the sugar, use 2 pinches of salt and flavour with any one or a combination of the following: dried herbs (rosemary, marjoram), cayenne, paprika, curry powder, the list is endless. Fill the choux with any form of filling you’d use to top a canapé: smoked salmon, cream cheese, mushrooms, etc.