What is Pate a Choux? | What Can You Make with This Pate a Choux Recipe? | Is Choux Pastry Easy to Make? | Common Problems with Pate a Choux (Cream Puffs) | Can I Refrigerate Pate a Choux Dough? | The Best Filling for Cream Puffs | Essential Baking Tools
This pate a choux recipe produces puffs that are crisp, light, airy, and just slightly sweet. Want them to be savory? Leave out the sugar, and voila! You can use this recipe for so many wonderful desserts. Read more below for the recipe and details.
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What is Pate a Choux?
Pate a choux is an easy French pastry dough that is light and airy, When choux pastry bakes, the puffs hollow out insides, leaving the perfect cavity for a delicious filling.
When a puff is fully baked and dried out, it should not be soft or eggy on the inside.
This pate a choux recipe consists of water, butter, salt, powdered sugar, flour and eggs. Sometimes I use some milk in place of some of the water for a richer flavor. You have to be careful when using milk though, because milk can encourage too much browning during baking.
What Can You Make with a Pate a Choux Recipe?
Pate a choux (choux pastry) is used for cream puffs, craquelin, croquembouche, Paris-Brest, profiteroles, eclairs, and much more.
For a savory pate a choux recipe, leave the sugar out of the dough, and fill the baked puffs with chicken salad. Easy, right?
Is Choux Pastry Easy to Make?
Yes! You don’t need a mixer unless you want to use one when adding in the eggs. Otherwise, you just need a pot and a good spatula for stirring.
Common Problems with Pate a Choux
Pate a Choux is too Eggy.
This is a problem if the recipes calls for too many eggs. The solution is start by omitting one egg at a time to see if that fixed the problem.
Also, if the puffs do not bake long enough, then they may taste slightly eggy because the insides haven’t cooked long enough.
Solution: Don’t use too many eggs and bake long enough.
Pate a Choux is too Runny.
To start, there may be too much liquid in the dough or not enough flour.
After adding more flour, be sure to cook the dough over the stove for a couple of minutes to get rid of the flour taste.
The other reason for the dough being too runny is that it is very warm. If you try to pipe warm choux pastry onto a baking sheet, it has a stringy and runnier quality.
Solution: Let the dough cool completely before piping, and you may find that you didn’t need more flour after all if the problem is the dough temperature.
If the problem is the dough consistency, add flour one tablespoon at a time until the dough is no longer runny.
*You know that the dough is the right consistency when you pipe it and are able to flick the piping tip away without the dough forming a “string.” Warm dough won’t break away easily when you try to pull the piping tip away.
Pate a Choux is too Dry.
There are a few reasons why choux pastry can be too dry. First, there isn’t enough liquid in the dough. This results in a dry puff that is flatter in flavor and undesirable.
Second, the pate a choux dough baked too long. The solution is to bake them for less time.
Third, the puffs baked at too high of a temperature or baked too long, causing them to dry out too much.
Solution: Use a good recipe with the right balance of ingredients, and bake the puffs at a high enough temperature for a long enough period of time.
Why do Cream Puffs Not Rise?
Cream puffs (which is the same as choux pastry) won’t rise if the oven temperature is too low. For the puffs to rise properly, the temperature needs to be really high at first so that the steam builds up inside of the dough and causes them to rise and hollow out.
As a rule of thumb, the temperature should always start out between 400-450 for the first 10-15 minutes. You can then drop the temperature to 325-350 for the remainder of the baking time.
Solution: Bake at a high temperature to start, then lower so that the pate a choux doesn’t burn.
Why isn’t My Pate a Choux Hollow?
Choux pastry isn’t hollow for a couple of reasons. First, the dough is too wet and runny. The dough needs enough flour to give it structure so that it can properly rise and hollow out. The solution is to use enough flour so that the dough is thick enough.
Second, your cream puffs or choux pastries may not hollow out because the baking temperature is too low to start. As with most pastries, this dough needs high heat to get a high rise!
Solution: Make sure your has a good balance of flour and liquids, and bake at a high enough temperature.
Cream Puffs are Moist Inside.
If your cream puffs are moist inside after baking, this is because they did not bake long enough.
In addition, the puffs need to dry out on the inside after baking. To help the pate a choux dry out properly, turn the cream puffs upside down and use a toothpick to poke a hole in each one.
Solution: Poke a hole in each puff to allow the steam to escape, and then they can dry out within a couple of hours. If your puffs are still moist inside after doing this, then the solution is to bake them longer next time.
Can I Refrigerate Pate a Choux dough?
Yes, but set the dough out so that it comes back to room temperature before baking. Cold dough doesn’t pipe as easily or rise as well during baking.
If you are going to use the dough right when you make it, which is when you will get the best results, let the dough cool to room temperature before piping. To do this, fill your piping bag or transfer the dough to a cool bowl and cover with a towel.
If you try to pipe warm dough, it will be runnier and more difficult to pipe into beautiful mounds.
The Best Filling for Cream Puffs
The type of filling that you choose will largely depend on what you do with the choux dough. If you are making traditional cream puffs, for example, then use stabilized whipped cream.
Other good fillings for choux pastries include vanilla pastry cream, caramel cream filling, chocolate mousse, vanilla ice cream or any sort of ice cream, light chocolate buttercream, hazelnut filling, etc. There are so many possibilities that taste delicious in pate a choux pastries!
Essential Baking Tools for Choux Pastry
- #12 tip and couplers for piping the choux pastry dough
- Piping bags
- Half sheet pans and parchment (silicone mats don’t work as well for choux dough)
Recipes to Try with Pate a ChouxPrint
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 4 tsp powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- Piping bag
- #12 tip or other similar sized tip
To Make Pate a Choux
- In a large medium sized pot, combine water, butter, salt, and powdered sugar. Cook on medium heat and stir on occasion until mixture comes to a boil.
- As soon as it starts to boil, remove from heat, add flour, and stir flour in. Return pot to heat and cook for 2 more minutes on medium heat. This removes the flour taste from the pate a choux.
- Remove from heat and add the eggs 1 at a time, being sure to stir continually with each addition. Pate a choux looks curdled as it tries to absorb each egg, but the dough will come back together and will have a shiny quality after all the eggs are mixed in.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pipe the pate a choux onto a **parchment lined sheet pan with a #12 tip. Pipe rounds that are about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter, making sure to leave 1-2 inches of space between them so they have room to expand.
- When piping, do not pipe them high. Rather, pipe so that the dough spread out and build up. You don’t want to end up with Hershey Kiss shaped dough. Instead, it should be more like a smooth mound that is 1/4 inch high, but don’t stress too much about it being 1/4 inch high. You can make them bigger if desired!
- Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until puffs are golden brown all oven. If the tops start to brown too fast, cover them lightly with foil. Do not let the foil touch the puffs though, as this will deflate them.
- When they are done, poke a hole in the bottom of each one with a tooth pick, and allow them to dry out for 2 hours.
- Once the puffs are cool and dried out, fill with desired filling through the opening in the bottom. Or you can also cut the puffs in half and fill with a pretty star tip. Store choux pastries/cream puffs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Cream puffs can also be frozen for up to a month.
**I prefer parchment to silicone because the puffs won’t stick at all to parchment.
Keywords: pate a choux, choux pastry, cream puffs