Thanks to my baking groups, I conquered another fear….the fear of choux pastry. Can I call it chouxphobia??
On retrospect, the fear seemed unnecessary. The recipe from King Arthur’s flour website for the choux pastry was easy and the blog walks you through the process of making choux.
Choux is a classic French pastry dough (actually more a thick paste then a dough in the strictest sense of the word),
It is said to have been invented by Catherine De Medici’s chief baker the French chef Panterelli in 1540. The original recipe went through a series of changes in the hands of various chefs. The recipe that is used today is credited to Antoine Carême who published the recipe in 1815 in his cookbook ‘Pâtissier Royal’.
Made from flour, water, butter and eggs and sometimes milk, there is no leavening (rising) agent used in the dough. The pastry puffs up due to the high moisture level in the dough which creates steam.
The dough is cooked twice. Once on the stove and then in the oven.
Water and butter are heated together till the butter melts. Then the mixture is brought to a rolling boil. It is important that the butter melts before boiling as we do not want too much water to evaporate. This will change the consistency of the dough .
After taking it off the heat, all the flour is added in all at once. It is then stirred briskly so no lumps are formed. This dough is called ‘panada‘.
This panada is then set back on the heat to dry, stirring till the dough comes together into a ball. (The bottom of the pan will be lightly filmed with the paste which you shouldn’t scrap while cooking).
After cooling the panada, the eggs are added one by one, mixing in between till the dough becomes smooth, silky and falls off the spoon after about three seconds. (I read somewhere that ‘it’s texture should be reluctant dropping consistency’).
The chox is a very versatile dough and can be piped into different shapes to make a variety of sweet and savory dishes- eclairs, profiteroles, croquembouche, Paris Brest, gougères (cheese puffs), French crullers, Gâteau St-Honoré, Parisian gnocchi and Salammbos to name a few.
Fried Choux pastry is used to prepare Churros in Latin America and Spain.
A well baked choux is puffed up, has a crisp, hard, golden crust and a hollow, dry interior. It should retain its shape when cooled.
To achieve this the shells are first baked at a higher temperature so that the water content evaporates rapidly. This steam is what causes the pastry rise and puff up. The high temperature also sets the structure of the shell. After about 15 minutes, the temperature is reduced. This way the crust becomes crisp and firm while the interior dries out.
Sometimes a small slit is made in the pastry at the end of the baking time and the pastry is put back into the oven to allow the steam to escape. This ensures that the pastry does not deflate when cool.
I used the same dough to make 4 chocolate eclairs and 2 Paris Brests. For the filling I used the praline mousseline recipe.
This is our last bake of the year and from the King Arthur flour website.
We begin the new year baking from the blog ‘Scientifically Sweet’. Looking forward to some great bakes.