Today a kitchen basic! Cream puff dough or what is commonly called choux paste in the culinary world is a wonderful and basic recipe to have in your box, binder or under your belt! Knowing how to make these delicious puffs of goodness is a wonderful thing to know! You will mesmerize and amaze your friends with your cooking prowess and might I say you may even impress yourself.
This dough or paste is easy to fix with ingredients that you have on hand and in the end will render you a multitude of options as to how to prepare it. This dough is often used to make cream puff shells, but it is also the same dough that is used to make eclairs, beignets, churros, gugeres, and cruller donuts.
This is a rich thick paste, more than a "dough" and it uses lots of eggs as a leavener that will make these puff and expand to an airy, crispy goodness. They are similar in nature to a popover or Yorkshire pudding only there is no fat involved in the cooking process and you don't dispense the dough into a vessel for baking. These make a great dinner roll with a twist and you will find it hard to stop eating them because of their light deliciousness.
I recently said to a friend of mine who was excited to hear I was making this that these are so easy to make it is almost embarrassing. That is the truth! You bring milk, butter, salt and a tiny bit of sugar to a simmer and then add flour and stir together to make a thick paste that is done when it begins to form a film on the bottom of the saucepan. Then transfer to a bowl or in my case the bowl of your stand mixer and add one egg at a time until all are incorporated. What you have will be a very sticky, gloppy looking batter-ish looking dough. You can now transfer this to a piping bag and pipe little mounds of the batter onto some parchment or you can make eclair shells by piping long ropes. If you don't do the pastry bag thing, then you can use a couple of spoons or a scoop to distribute the dough onto the baking sheets.
These bake in a 375 degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes. The number you get will depend on how large you have made your shells. I did medium sized shells and got a little over 3 dozen nice cream puffs. When they are done, just let them sit till cool. You can pop one open to check to see if they are nice and dry on the inside. If not, pop them back in for a few more minutes. If you don't get them baked all the way they will collapse on themselves when they cool.
Now you are ready to make cream puffs. Fill these will pastry cream, custard, stabilized whipped cream, mousse, even chicken or tuna salad for a beautiful lunch presentation! You can just serve these by themselves with jam for a lovely breakfast accompaniment as well!
I am making a special dessert using these cream puff shells that I will be sharing with you in another installment, so stay tuned and I can't wait to share it with you! There's a million things I haven't done, but just you wait! Just you wait!
If you want to make these in advance, you can pipe them or scoop them onto a baking sheet, then freeze them till solid and pop them into a zip top bag until ready to bake, then place on a baking sheet and allow them to thaw then bake as per the instructions. These will not freeze well after they are baked because the dough will collapse when exposed to a lot of moisture.
I hope you give this classic cream puff dough or choux paste a try the next time you want to wow someone and I hope you love it!
Cream Puff Dough
Classic Choux Pastry
1 cup cold water
1 stick (4 ounces) butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
4 whole eggs
Step by Step Instructions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place water, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
Add flour and stir until it comes together in a shaggy ball. Keep over the heat until a light film forms on the bottom of the saucepan. When you stir and turn the dough over it will be smooth and want to stay together.
Transfer to a deep bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer allow to cool for five minutes before proceeding.
Using your mixer on low, add one egg at a time waiting until it is incorporated before adding the next one. When you can see the mixture pulling away from the side of the bowl slightly after adding the last egg, your mixture is ready.
NOTE: You can mix this by hand but it is very difficult toward the end as this batter gets very thick and hard to mix.
You can now scoop the mixture using a couple of spoons or a cookie scoop or you can place the dough in a piping bag and pipe the shells you desire.
Bake for 25 to30 minutes or until puffed, golden brown and when one is opened up you see the insides are dry and not soggy. There will be some moistness on the inside, just not wetness.
The amount this recipe yields, depends on how big or small you choose to make your shells. I get approximately 18 medium sized cream puff shells from one recipe.
If you wish to make these in advance, you can pipe or scoop onto a baking sheet and then freeze till solid then transfer to a zip top bag or airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months until ready to bake. To bake, lay out the desired amount on a baking sheet lined with parchment and allow to thaw. Bake as above
See how I did this in my YouTube video: