Choux pastry is a little piece of magic.
A small ball of dough turns into a very light, fluffy airy ball.(not hairy I always struggle with the H in English anyway )
Only basic ingredients are required : eggs, flour, butter milk and butter.
The recipe might look very complicated however, once you understand why you have to take those steps, it will become a lot easier to do.
This is why I will sprinkle a little bit science in there while we are doing the recipe. You will see it will be fun !
The fact it forms a very airy structure with large holes is ideal to fill them with a various fillings.
Chocolate éclair, Vanilla Grand Marnier caramel for the croquembouche or the Saint Honoré, Praline for the Paris Brest, Café for the religieuse, profiteroles….
Today I give you the recipe of small choux buns that we call “chouquettes” understand “small chou buns”.
It is a French Classic especially during French wedding.
We call it ” le vin d’honneur” in France, it works the other way round compared to a British wedding.
You invite everybody at the church, then you welcome all of them with Champagne and chouquettes and around 7pm, only the family and closest friends are staying for the diner and the party.
Why is it called ‘pâte à choux’ ?
La pâte à choux comes from the old French « pate à chaud » meaning hot pastry.
It is because the dough has been cooked before baking in the oven.
It was created by an Italian Popelini who was the pastry chef of Catherine de Medicis during the 16th century amd brought it to the French court.
- 60g water
- 60g milk
- 55 g butter
- 1 g of salt
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 70 g plain flour
- 125g eggs (about 2 medium eggs)
- Pearl sugar
- Bring milk, water, butter, salt and sugar to a strong simmer in a saucepan.
- Take the pot off the heat and add the flour all at once.
- Once the flour is incorporated, the pot should be returned back to the stove until the dough reaches 75 degrees (about 2 minutes) You may see a thin layer at the bottom of the pan.
- Transfer the dough to a bowl. Use a hand mixer and mix the dough to release the steam and let it cool down to about 50 degrees.
- Add half of the lightly-beaten eggs.
- Once the first half is incorporated, the rest is added slowly and whisk vigorously with the spatula. (If you use your mixer you should use the paddle not the whisk).
- Stop adding the eggs when you get this consistency below:
This is the key of the success of the recipe : the consistency ! It needs to be supple but not runny, therefore you might need to add more or less eggs (depending on the size of the eggs and the temperature of the batter when you will add the eggs).
- Prepare a baking sheet by dabbing a bit of choux between the paper and the pan at each corner to secure the paper to the pan.
- Transfer the choux to a piping bag fitted with a star tip(1/2 inch in diameter ) (The star tip helps to get a choux that does not crack during the baking time).
- Sprinkle pearl sugar, if you want you can add chocolate chips instead (Personally I prefer with pearl sugar).
- Bake in a normal oven (not a fan!!!! this is very important, it is probably the only patisserie that does not use a fan oven!!!) at 180 degrees for about 30 min.
Scientific explanation for a success…
- Gelatinization of starch.
Starch is a complex sugar present in all flour (gluten free or not). It is a polymer of glucose.
The fast addition of the flour is important since the hot water is very quickly absorbed by the flour and you want to ensure that the uptake of water is uniform throughout the paste. The starch granules inflate their volume increases so much that you obtain a thick mixture.
If the flour is added slowly, the first flour to be in water would take up more moisture than the rest and the result would be a non-uniform dough that would cook unevenly.
- Put the saucepan back on the hob for ew minutes to dry the paste why is it necessary?
To make sure that water molecules that was not trapped in the network will evaporate.
- Careful to the temperature when you add the beaten eggs! It can not be more than 80 degrees which corresponds to the temperature of coagulation of eggs. –> and you would get scrambled eggs… not really what we want 🙂
- What does it happen during the baking time?
No baking powered required in this recipe. It’s the water added and those coming from the milk and the egg whites that turns into steam in the oven. The proteins contained in the flour, yolks and milk create the crust and prevent the steam formed to escape from the choux bun.
- The choux needs to be dry, there is no way to become soggy at the end, if it is, it is because you added to much eggs and the mixture was too liquid.