Cream puffs are also known as profiteroles. The pastry shell or bun is known as choux pastry or pâte à choux (pata shoe). These little pastries drove me crazy back in May. I was obsessed trying to get the perfect choux pastry. One day I even made five different choux pastries from three different recipes using various methods and baking temperatures. It all tasted good, but I could not achieve a puffy pastry that didn’t taste bland, held it’s shape and didn’t go all soft the next day.
All in all, I’ve tried at least 10 times before I found the perfect combination. It might not work for all, but it has certainly worked for me…though not all the time. The eggs in this recipe are very very important. Not all eggs weigh the same, unless you use boxed eggs (as I call it). I’ve not tried using boxed eggs because it’s not available in grocery stores here. The only time I used it was when I worked in a restaurant. I normally use two medium sized eggs that weigh approximately 53g. But what I do is, I whisk the two eggs into a measuring cup and use as I need. Most of the time I use the whole mixture, but when the eggs are slightly bigger then I do not use all of it. The paste can’t have too much liquid, otherwise the shape would not hold. That, for me is the best way to go about with this.
The temperature is also very very important, as you want nice and puffy choux pastries and not ones that are flat, undercooked or overcooked. I learnt from Baker Bettie’s classic cream puff recipe where she preheated the oven to 220°C (425°F) but increased it to 230°C (450°F) when she put the pastries in the oven and baked it for 10 minutes then reduced the heat to 170°C (350°F) for 15 minutes. This worked perfectly for me and the results were perfect. The only thing I did a little different was, after the pastries were baked, I poked a hole at the bottom of it to release the steam in it. Then I returned it to the oven 100°C (210°F) for another 15 minutes to ‘dry’ it out. This step is totally optional as I just wanted my pastries a little drier.
Getting the recipe together was another thing. In some recipes, like this one…I use both imperial and metric system.
Most recipes either call for water or milk. I find that using water keeps the pastry hard while milk makes it soft after a few hours, but water makes the pastry taste super bland while milk give it a very nice taste. So, I use both! Half milk, half water. The milk I use is pasteurised full fat (3.5 %) milk. Sometimes I do use pasteurised skimmed milk (2.5 %) and got the same results.
The pastry cream or crème pâtissière is adapted from Martha Steward. Sometimes when I’m lazy I just use Bird’s custard and add some vanilla beans to it.
- ½ cup (55g) Butter
- ¼ cup (60ml) Water
- ¼ cup (60ml) Milk
- ½ cup (60g) All Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- 2 nos Eggs
- 1 cup Milk
- 3 nos Egg Yolks
- 3 tablespoons Sugar
- 3 tablespoons All Purpose Flour
- 1 pod Vanilla Pod
- Choux Pastry
- Pre-heat oven to 220°C (425°F). Prepare a baking try and line with parchment paper.
- In a medium sized pot, add butter, milk, water, sugar and salt and boil over medium high until butter has melted.
- Reduce heat to medium and quickly stir in the flour. Keep on stirring and cook off the moisture in the dough until it starts to pull away from sides and forms into a ball. Should take around a minute or two.
- Take the dough off heat and let it cool down for 5 minutes.
- Whisk eggs.
- Once dough has cooled off, slowly pour in the eggs into the pot and stir continuously. The batter should look smooth, glossy and thick. (You can also use a hand mixer to stir in the eggs, it does take a little longer and requires more energy if you mix it by hand.)
- Place batter into a piping bag with star tip or round nozzle and pipe onto prepared baking tray. Around 1.5-inch diameter. Starting in the middle, going once around, then up 3/4 around.
- Wet finger to flatten the tip of the pipped batter. This is to prevent the tip from burning.
- Place the tray into oven (middle rack) and increase the heat to 230°C (450°F) and bake for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 170°C (350°F) and bake for another 15 minutes.
- Take the pastries out and let it cool for a minute or two. Then using a small pairing knife, make a hole at the bottom of the pastry.
- In the meantime, reduce the heat to 100°C (210°F).
- Put the pastries back into the oven on the wire rack. Bake for another 15 minutes to dry it out.
- Take out dried pastries and let it cool on a wire rack.
- Pipe cooled pastries with crème pâtissière or chantilly cream.
- Dust with icing sugar or coat with melted chocolate.
- Crème Pâtissière
- Split vanilla pod into half and scrape out the seeds.
- In a saucepan, bring the milk to a boil over medium heat.
- In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks, vanilla seeds and sugar.
- Add flour and mix until smooth and free of lumps.
- Take 1/4 cup of the warm milk and pour slowly while mixing into the egg mixture.
- When the remaining milk begins to boil, add it slowly into the egg mixture. Mix well.
- Pour egg and milk mixture back into the saucepan and cook over high heat and whisk continuously until pastry cream thickens and boils, about 1 minute.
- Reduce heat to medium and cook while whisking continuously until cream becomes shiny and easier to stir, about 4 minutes.
- Once done, remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Wrap with plastic wrap and leave to cool.
- Once cooled, refrigerate until it has set (3 hours or overnight).
- You can make the crème pâtissière a night before intended use.
- Do not use aluminium foil in place of parchment paper. This will cause the choux pastry to burn at the bottom.
- For humid countries, the choux pastry maybe a little “runnier” resulting in difficulty of holding shape while being pipped. What might help is if you chill the choux pastry for 10 minutes before piping.
- It’s best to fill the pastries before being served, otherwise the pastry will get soggy. I once filled it 5 hours prior to serving and it was not too soggy.
- Store pastry in an uncovered or loosely covered container.
- Read the text above for more tips
- Cups to Grams conversions
All the best and enjoy baking!