Friday, September 30, 2011

Pâte à Choux

Chocolate Eclair's
If you've ever eaten a chocolate eclair, a cream puff, or a profiterole, then you have already enjoyed the unique airy, flaky texture and flavor of Pâte à Choux. 
In the mid 90's, I worked at a gourmet restaurant and banquet facility in Chicago. One of the most often requested appetizers was a savory filling in a Pâte à Choux puff pastry. These pastry appetizers brought a higher price of $2.00 each instead of $1.00 or $1.50. This same dough was also used to make pastry swans. The body of the swan was filled with sour cream before being floated in a bowl of rich Polish mushroom soup. The swan took the dish to a whole new visual, and price point level as well. One day my daughter brought some profiteroles home from her culinary school baking class. We just had to make some for me so I could put together some special savory appetizers like the "lobster puffs" picture on the upper left side of this page. So my daughter taught me to make Pâte à Choux. 
Get out your scale
The difference between cooking and baking is that baking is much less forgiving than cooking. When a recipe is a baking one, a scale is often required to measure ingredients, whereas cooking requires less precise measurements. Often visual clues are required to tell if it is time to proceed to the next step. Pâte à Choux is one such recipe. 
Making Pâte à Choux dough is much like making a roux
You just have to sift
8 oz. water, or milk (1 cup), or half water half milk (4oz ea)
4 oz. unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/2 tsp. salt
6 oz. all-purpose flour 
10 large eggs
Sifted flour

Beat some eggs
Bring water/milk and butter to a boil
Preheat oven to 400°F. Boil water, milk, and butter until melted. Add salt. Remove from heat and add flour. Work mixture together and return to heat. Continue working the mixture until all flour is incorporated and dough forms a ball. The mix will be ready when a light brown film forms on the bottom of the pan; Remember color is flavor! Transfer mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer. 

Add sifted flour to hot milk and butter
There should be a light brown film on bottom of pan
Place dough in mixer. Mix in the eggs
With mixer on medium speed add egg 1 at a time, making sure the first egg is completely incorporated before continuing. It is important to note that the mixture will separate and then come together again each time you add an egg; this should happen. Also, you may not need all the eggs. The Pate A Choux will be the right texture when you grab a piece between your thumb and index finger (pointer finger) and pull your finger and thumb apart. The dough should be  elastic, without breaking. Once all eggs have been added and the mixture is smooth put dough into piping bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe immediately into golf ball-size shapes, 2 inches apart onto parchment lined sheet pans. Wet your fingertip with water and push down slightly on the tip to keep these from burning. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Once they are removed from the oven pierce with a paring knife immediately to release steam.

 Eggs incorporated into the dough
Dough ready for piping

Fill pastry bag with dough
Pipe out 1-1/2" profiteroles 

Press down points with wet finger. Pâte à Choux  ready to bake
Pâte à Choux baked
Cut slit in side to allow steam to escape
Profiteroles ready to use or freezer
There are many pages, pictures, and video's on the internet about making Pâte à Choux and swans.      

© TMelle 1998-2011


Anonymous said...

No chance are those proportions taking anywhere near 10 eggs. Maybe 5.

Also, you underbaked them. You want a DEEP golden brown. Not light golden and not pale sides either.

Tim M said...

Actually there are 10 eggs in this recipe. As for the final color, I am using a nice digital camera but on websites the color is RGB and not CMYK. Since this is not a printed picture accurate color os not possible without doing some photo shop magic. They were delicious