Choux pastry

Choux pastry

By
From
How to Cook Pastry
Makes
1 quantity
Photographer
Peter Cassidy

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
220ml water
85g butter
105g plain flour
pinch salt
3 eggs, at room temperature

Method

  1. Measure the water into a small saucepan. Cut the butter into 1cm cubes and add to the water. Place over a low heat and allow the butter to melt, without letting the water simmer or boil (which would result in less liquid, through evaporation, and a stiff mixture that won’t rise as well).
  2. Meanwhile, sift the flour and salt 2 or 3 times to aerate it and remove any lumps. Do the final sifting onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. Fold the paper in half and fold up the bottom edge a couple of times to create a pocket for the flour to sit in. (This will make it easier to add it all at once to the water and butter.)
  3. Once the butter has melted, increase the heat to medium-high and have the pocket of flour and a wooden spoon close by. As the water begins to simmer, watch it carefully and, as it boils and rises up the sides of the pan, with the melted butter collecting in the middle, shoot the flour in all at once and turn off the heat.
  4. Beat the flour in vigorously for just 20–30 seconds, getting the spoon into the corners of the saucepan, until the flour is fully incorporated, there are no lumps and the mixture is thick and a uniform colour. Spread this panade onto a plate and let it cool until tepid (about 38ºC). Cooling the panade will allow the incorporation of more egg, to ensure a greater rise.
  5. Meanwhile, break the eggs into a bowl and whisk lightly with a fork. Once the panade is cool to the touch, return it to the saucepan (there’s no need to wash it), add about 1 tbsp of the beaten egg and beat it into the panade with a wooden spoon (off the heat). Once the egg is fully incorporated, add a little more egg and beat again, adding about three quarters of the remaining egg in additions and beating well to incorporate each addition fully before the next. Initially, the panade will thicken, but as more egg is beaten in it will start to loosen and become smooth and shiny.
  6. Once about three quarters of the egg has been added, check the consistency; you need a silky smooth pastry with a reluctant dropping consistency, which means that when you fill the wooden spoon with pastry and lift it up over the saucepan the pastry should fall back from the spoon into the saucepan to the slow count of six. Continue adding egg a little at a time until the correct consistency is achieved. The pastry can now be used, or covered and either stored in the fridge overnight or frozen.

A note on beating in the flour...

  • Beating the flour in for just 20–30 seconds is very important, as any longer and the panade may become greasy and look split, creating slightly greasy cooked pastry and an unattractive cracked surface.

A note on adding the egg...

  • If too little egg is added, the choux pastry will not rise successfully. If too much egg is added, the choux will be too loose to hold its shape and it may struggle to rise. So 3 eggs in the recipe is a guide only; you need to add just enough to achieve a reluctant dropping consistency.

    The egg can be incorporated using a hand-held electric whisk if preferred, still in several additions and taking care not to add too much.
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