Pâte à Choux Recipe (Choux Pastry)

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.

cream puffs

Welcome to French Patisserie 101: Part 1

Bonjour tout le monde! (Hello everyone!) Are you ready to dive into the world of French pastries and desserts?

French desserts and pastries are two of the main subjects that got me into baking and going to culinary school. I have a deep love and passion for basically all things French, and I take every opportunity possible to take more classes and to continue learning about this amazing culinary art when I go to Paris.

In this series, we will walk through the basics of choux pastry, popular fillings, a few less common but still delicious fillings, the history of these desserts, and how to make various choux pastries. So let’s get started. Allons-y! (Let’s go!)

What is Pâte à Choux?

Pâte à choux, also known as choux paste, is an easy French pastry dough that is light and airy. When choux pastry bakes, it hollows out inside, leaving the perfect cavity for a delicious filling.

In addition, when choux paste is fully baked and dried out, it should not be soft or eggy on the inside.

This pâte à 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 may encourage too much browning during baking.

What Can You Make Pâte à Choux?

Choux pastry is used for cream puffs, craquelin, croquembouche, Paris-Brest, profiteroles, eclairs, and much more.

For a savory 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, but read through the section below so that you can avoid common problems.

Also, you don’t need a mixer unless you want to use one when adding the eggs. Otherwise, you just need a pot and a good spatula for stirring.

Common Problems with Pate a Choux

Pâte à Choux is too Eggy

This is a problem if the recipes calls for too many eggs. The solution is make another batch with one less eggs 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. We want the pastries to be crisp on the outside and dry on the inside.

Solutions: Don’t use too many eggs and bake long enough to dry them out.

The Pâte à Choux is too Runny

To start, there may be too much liquid in the dough or not enough flour. Either problem will result in a dough with a thin consistency.

Another cause of a runny choux is letting the dough cool too long before adding the eggs. One time, I decided to let the dough cool for about 30 minutes before mixing in the eggs in a stand mixer. The result was a considerably runnier dough, and it was not the right consistency. Because the dough was cool, it didn’t absorb the eggs in the same way.

Lastly, choux may be softer when it’s still super warm, which may cause problems when piping. so let it cool for 20-30 minutes before piping it to see if this improves the consistency.

Solutions:

Add the eggs while the dough is still hot so that the eggs blend in properly. It’s best to use a stand mixer so that the eggs don’t scramble, however.

Let the dough cool for 20-30 minutes 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. After adding more flour, cook the dough over the stove for a couple of minutes to get rid of the flour taste.

***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.”

Pâte à 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 pastries at a high enough temperature for a long enough period of time.

Why Aren’t My Choux Pastries Rising?

Choux pastries (i.e. cream puffs, eclairs, etc.) won’t rise if the oven temperature is too low. For the pastries 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 400-425 F for the first 5-15 minutes. You can then drop the temperature to 325-375 for the remainder of the baking time.

Solution: Bake at a high temperature to start, then lower the temperature so that the pâte à choux doesn’t burn.

Why Isn’t My Pâte à 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 to 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.

My Cream Puffs are Moist Inside

This really applies to any choux pastry but is a common problem for cream puffs. 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 pâte à 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 pastries are still moist inside after doing this, then the solution is to bake them longer next time.

Can I Refrigerate Pâte à Choux Dough?

Yes, know that you will get the best results by using the dough right away. If you need to refrigerate the dough, set the choux pastry out so that it comes back to room temperature before baking. Cold dough doesn’t pipe as easily or rise as well during baking. For the absolute best results, don’t refrigerate the dough.

If you are going to use the dough right, fill your piping bag and let the dough cool for 10 minutes. The dough is slightly easier to work with when it’s not piping hot.

If you try to pipe hot dough, it will be runnier and more difficult to pipe into beautiful mounds or strips.

The Best Fillings for Eclairs, Cream Puffs, and Other Choux Pastries

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.

Here is a list of amazing fillings for eclairs, cream puffs, profiteroles, and other pastries:

Essential Baking Tools for Choux Pastry

Recipes to Try with Pate a Choux

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Pate a Choux Recipe (Choux Pastry)

cream puffs

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  • Author: Camille
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: 50 servings 1x
  • Category: pastries

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 155 ml (2/3 c) whole milk
  • 78 ml (1/3 c) water
  • 113 g unsalted butter
  • 10 g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 90 g all-purpose flour
  • 30 g cake flour
  • 45 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 egg + 1 Tbs water (for egg wash), optional
  • Piping bag
  • #12 tip or other similar-sized tip

Instructions

To Make Pate a Choux

  1. Preheat oven to 425* F (220 C). Place the eggs in a blender and blend for a few seconds until blended (2-3 seconds). Set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized pot, add water, milk, butter, salt, and sugar. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture comes to a boil.
  3. When the mixture starts to boil, remove it from the heat, add the flour, and stir quickly. Return the pot to medium heat and cook for 2 more minutes to remove the flour taste, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove the dough from the heat and pour it into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  5. Turn the mixer to low and mix until the dough temperature reaches 125 F (50 C).
  6. Slowly add the egg mixture to the pate a choux in 7-10 additions. You know you’ve added enough egg when you can draw a line in the dough, and it slowly sinks back in. 
  7. Spoon the choux pastry into a piping bag fitted with a #12 tip (for cream puffs), and clamp the top so it doesn’t leak.
  8. On a parchment-lined sheet pan, pipe the dough for chouquettes, eclairs, or another choux pastry.
  9. After piping, you have the option to brush gently with egg wash.
  10. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 F, then turn the oven to 350 F, and bake for 20-30 minutes. 
  11. Once out of the oven, poke a hole in the bottom of each one with a toothpick, and allow them to dry out for 2 hours. You can also eat them right away if you can’t resist!
  12. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Crisp them in the oven again at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes if they get soft.
  13. 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 in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, or freeze for up to a month.

Notes

* All baking temps are conventional settings.