Adventures With Choux

Last week, the end of year meal happened at work and it was down to each member of staff to bring something to add to our little feast. I quickly claimed the dessert as I had a few ideas in mind and love baking.  After a few last minute changes I had to totally rethink my dessert after it seems that I’ve lost a pastry dish. So I obviously chose to make something I’ve never baked before – profiteroles!

Although it seemed a bit of a stupid idea at the time (only deciding about 4pm on the day before I needed them) it was actually a resounding success. I know quite a few people have issues with making choux and it being too wet but I found there was a key point that you would know if the recipe would work or not and it was important to acknowledge.

For my first attempt at choux pastry I put my trust in a James Martin recipe that you can find here. But for bloggings sake and because I don’t trust the link to remain forever I’ll write the recipe out here for you too with my minor adjustments and method tips.

For the choux pastry

  • 200ml/7fl oz cold water – I used just under 200ml
  • 4 tsp caster sugar
  • 85g/3oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing if required
  • 115g/4oz plain flour – I used strong plain flour to give it a better crispness
  • pinch salt
  • 3 medium eggs, beaten – I only needed 2.5 eggs

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Place a small roasting tin in the bottom of the oven to heat – this will be used for steam later on.
  • For the choux pastry, place the water, sugar and butter into a large saucepan. Heat gently until the butter has melted then bring to the boil. The mixture MUST be bought to the boil. On my first attempt I did not do this and it was a terrible mistake. This is not mentioned in the James Martin method but is essential.
  • Once the mixture is boiling quickly add in the flour and salt.
  • Remove from the heat and quickly combine mixture until a smooth paste is formed. Once the mixture comes away from the side of the pan (this will be obvious), transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes. Leaving a little longer than 15 minutes is totally fine. This is the step at which you will know if you have decent choux. If your mixture is a smooth paste with a decent thickness then it will be fine to move on. If at this point the choux is very wet and not at all paste-like you will need to start again.
  • Next, beat in the eggs, a little at a time, until the mixture is smooth and glossy and has a soft dropping consistency – you may not need all 3 eggs. I beat in approximately one egg at a time. This is the part of the cook that you could accidentally make the mixture too wet. Remember – less is more. As soon as you are happy with the consistency stop adding the eggs, even if you have some left over!
  • Lightly grease a large baking sheet or prepare non-stick greaseproof paper, like I did. Using a piping bag and relevant size nozzle, pipe the mixture into small balls in lines across the baking sheet – if you don’t have any piping bags you can spoon the mixture onto a sheet or tray instead. Gently rub the top of each ball with a wet finger and smooth the ball of mixture. This also helps to make a crisper smoother top.
  • Place the baking sheet into the oven. Before closing the oven door, pour half a cup of water into the roasting tin at the bottom of the oven, then quickly shut the door. I did this easily by setting my profiterole mix slightly further back in the oven compared to the roasting tin. This helps to create more steam in the oven and make the pastry rise better. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. If the profiteroles are too pale they will become soggy when cool so make sure you leave them until they have some colour on them. Also, do not open the oven until totally necessary. I didn’t check mine until 20 minutes was up.
  • Remove from the oven and turn the oven off. Use a skewer or cocktail stick to make a small hole in the pastry. Once this is done for all the profiteroles pop them back in the oven for 5 minutes. This will help the insides of the profiterole to dry out slightly so it maintains its shape and stops it going soggy.
  • When the profiteroles have cooled you can then fill them with whatever filling you’d like – I made a salted caramel cream and highly recommend it!

So, to sum up – do not think that because something is labelled as a pastry that it is difficult to make. Although it might sound a little tricky, choux is really easy once you get the knack for it! Why don’t you give it a try?

 

 

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