Classic Cream Puffs

Learn how to make cream puffs from scratch using the basic pate a choux pastry. Fill with chantilly cream or pastry cream. 

How to Make Classic Cream Puffs- Baker BettieSoooo….

That whole Pate A Choux thing is still going on over here at Baker Bettie headquarters. I hope that’s okay. I know I’m cool with it, even though my thighs aren’t. But seriously, the more I play with this pastry dough, the more obsessed with it I am getting.

Check out the rest of the Pate a Choux and All it Can Do series here:
How to Make Basic Pate a Choux
Eclairs with Espresso Glaze and Cinnamon Whipped Cream
Homemade Beignets 
Sharp Cheddar and Thyme Cheese Puffs (Gougère)

Today we explore cream puffs! The classic cream puff. As much as I like to put my own spin on things and do unique variations on the classics, I love making the classics properly as well. So I tried to make proper cream puffs. I still need some practice, but with several attempts I got much better results.

How to Make Cream Puffs- Baker Bettie

A couple of things I initially had problems with was getting this babies to puff as much as I wanted and making sure they didn’t deflate when I took them out of the oven. You want them to stand tall with a hollow center so you can fill them with all that beautiful cream chantilly!  I had a couple batches that didn’t rise very much, and a batch that fell flat. So I watched a lot of tutorials and thought about the science behind pate a choux and what might help these babies come out how I wanted. And I think I figured out a method that worked beautifully!

How to Make Cream Puffs- Baker Bettie

Most tutorials suggest baking the puffs at 425F or 450F for some time and then dropping the temp down to 350F to finish them off. This still didn’t give me quite the rise I was looking for. So I remembered this thing I heard Alton Brown talking about on his podcast about biscuits one day. He stated that he always makes sure his oven is in the “heating cycle” when he first puts his biscuits in the oven. Meaning the oven is actively heating up. To do this, he preheats to oven to 25 degrees less than his cooking temp and turns the heat up right as his puts his biscuits in the oven. He claims that the active heat will create more rapid evaporation and steam, creating more rise.

The rise that occurs in pate a choux pastries is all about steam. The pastry has a very high water content and we are relying on this to create the airiness in the final product. So I tried Mr. Brown’s method hoping for better results. I preheated the oven to 425F and cranked it to 450F just as I was putting the puffs in the oven. I let them bake there for 10 mins then dropped the heat down to 350F for 15 more minutes. This allowed the pastries to get a nice big puff and then continue cooking until completely set and dried out and hollow on the inside. The result was these gorgeous shells!

How to Make Classic Cream Puffs- Baker Bettie

Once I got the method figured out, these are amazingly easy to make. Like pretty dangerously easy. These ladies are then filled with creme chantilly, which is basically sweetened vanilla whipped cream that is whipped to soft peaks. But let’s face it, creme chantilly or chantilly cream sounds waaaaay fancier than whipped cream. And it’s a lot easier to say to gougère. It’s cool to stick with cheese puffs on that one.

How to Make Cream Puffs- Baker Bettie

You can split the shells in half if you like to fill them with cream, or poke a little hole in the bottom of each shell and pipe the cream in. I like the method of filling the whole shells. I think they look a little nicer and are easier to eat that way.

How to Make Cream Puffs- Baker Bettie

The final step is sprinkling a little (or a lot) of powdered sugar over the puffs. I opted for a medium amount. I think they are perfect with the only slightly sweet shell and barely sweet chantilly creme. I didn’t want to ruin that with tons of powdered sugar. But by all means, if you love the sugar, go for it! Nobody will be the sugar police. Pinky promise!

How to Make Cream Puffs- Baker Bettie

 Don’t forget to check out my tutorial post for step-by-step instructions on how to make pate a choux! It will make it seem as easy as it is! This video tutorial is also helpful for seeing how to pipe the shells too!

Classic Cream Puffs

This is the basic recipe for making cream puffs using the classic french pastry- pate a choux.

Ingredients:

For the Shells

  • 1 cup water (8 fl oz, 240 ml)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces (1/2 cup, 4 oz, 113 grams)
  • large pinch kosher salt
  • 2 TBSP granulated sugar (0.8 oz, 24 grams)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (4.5 oz, 127 grams)
  • 4 large eggs

For the Cream Chantilly

  • 1 & 1/2 cups heavy cream, cold
  • 3 TBSP powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

For the Shells

  1. Place water, butter, sugar, and salt in a sauce pot over medium high heat. Stir until butter is melted and everything comes to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add flour into the mixture all at once while stirring quickly. Continue to stir and cook off the moisture in the dough until it pulls away from the sides and starts to form into a ball. This should take about a minute.
  3. Place dough into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a large bowl if using a hand mixer. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
  4. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add eggs in one at a time. Do not add another egg until the one before has been completely absorbed into the batter. The batter will look smooth and glossy when ready. (Alternatively, you can mix in the eggs by hand. This just takes a bit longer. Mix each egg until completely absorbed before adding the next).
  5. Place batter in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip or a zip top bag with the tip cut off.
    Preheat oven to 425F. Line baking sheets with parchment or silpat.
  6. Hold the pastry bag over the baking sheet and squeeze over one area until you have about a 2 inch round. Release the pressure from the bag and pull up to release the dough mound. You will have a little peak on the each that can be smoothed out with a wet fingertip. Keep the mounds about 2 inches apart. (about 9 per baking sheet)
  7. Place the baking sheet in the oven and turn to heat up to 450F. Bake for 10 minutes (without opening the oven) then drop the heat down to 350F and bake for 13-15 more minutes until the shells are crispy on the outside and set.
  8. Fill cooled pastries with creme chantilly (recipe follows) and dust with powdered sugar.

For the Creme Chantilly

  1. Whip cream by hand, in stand mixer with whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer until just starting to thicken.
  2. Add sugar and vanilla and continue whipping until soft to medium peaks form.
  3. Fill a pastry bag with the cream, and pipe into the bottom of the puffs until filled.
All images and text ©.
How to Make Classic Cream Puffs from Scratch! So easy and impressive!

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105 comments on “Classic Cream Puffs”

  1. I've been looking for a good cream puff recipe, pinning this one!
  2. Pingback: Basic Pate a Choux Recipe- Baker Bettie

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  4. These look SO good! I need one (or ten) right now!
  5. Just made these and they came out perfectly! Your tips are so helpful and detailed. They are delicious! Thanks for the recipe!
  6. My husband and I made these tonight on a whim, and they are delicious! Surprisingly simple and yummy. Thanks for the clear directions, especially for something that can seem really intimidating beforehand.
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  11. Hi I stumbled over this page and want to try making them. When I was a child we used to eat a similar kind on the Island Bornholm in Denmark. But the difference was: our baker Stubholm's puff buns were big! Not petite. I once asked him many years later after he went on pension, what was the secret in making them so big? He said he always added as little as the tip of a knife of horn salt to the dough. That would prevent that they would collapse or not rice enough and he could make them as big as he wanted. He made two kinds. One with double cream and one with Raspberry mixed double cream. Both kinds had melted chocolate on top instead of powder sugar. The last was an absolute favorite! And the whipped cream did not contain vanilla sugar! If you try this please name this variation "Stubholm's cream puffs" that will make him smile from heaven. Greetings from Pia
  12. This is a very old favourite...try filling with ice cream and serving with chocolate sauce drizzled over the top..add a couple of mint leaves to decorate, great on a hot day....also can be filled with savoury goodies such as curried prawns, asparagus morney etc etc...really yummy!!!
    • So glad you like them Bev! I agree about filling with ice cream. Here is my version of that: Profiteroles with Coffee Ice Cream and Chocolate Ganache- http://bakerbettie.com/profiteroles-coffee-ice-cream/
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  15. can you make these with an all purpose gluten free flour?
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  18. Try: instead 8tbsp butter put 6 tbsp butter and everything will be OK
  19. Drooling! That looks so perfect and gorgeous!
  20. They are very eggy and not very sweet. Please improve your cream puff recipe. Im sorry but I did not enjoy these.
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  22. Hi! This looks so delicious &light in texture .thank you.
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  24. I made these tonight and it was so easy!! They turned out great. I filled them already and then wondered if I should have waited until tomorrow. Can I refrigerate these overnight or should I freeze them instead?
  25. Hello! I have a little FYI that I learned and wanted to pass on. Let me know what you think if you try it and I hope you do. To make really perfect pate choice, try using bread flour and also you won't have to use but one steady temp. The eggs are crucial because you just have to add enough to get the right consistency. I love your blog!! Oven temp 375°F.
  26. Hello! You wrote 11/2 cups heavy cream did you mean to put 1/2 or 1 & 1/2 cups??? Please answer, thanks!
  27. Thank you so much for the recipe! I love the cooking instructions and how you referenced Alton brown, one of my favorites. Mine came out with the perfect air pocket for my maple butternut squash cream cheese filling. I making them for thanksgiving this Thursday! Cheers Tara
  28. If you want even higher rise, fill aluminum (not dark) muffin tins or the mini muffin tins about 3/4's full and bake shells in 400 degrees F oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Important that the puffs are golden/crisp or they may collapse. Even when they look done, leave them in a full minute or so longer to ensure the inside is cooked well. Remove from oven and cool completely. When you cut the tops to fill, the inside will still be a little wet but that's ok bc you are going to remove that part so you can fill them -- I fill the bottom with homemade vanilla cream pudding and whipped cream on top, incredibly delicious and everyone wants the recipe every time. Such an easy dessert that looks like you slaved over for hours. Freezes well, too!
  29. Hi, I just tried them and they were just perfect and it was so easy compare to other recipe. Thanks a lot
  30. Hello. Making these tonight for my dad's birthday tomorrow. Question about the oven. Most other recipes called for oven to be preheated. Yours reads to turn on when puffs go in. Is this correct? I thank you so much. Looking forward to making these.
    • Hi Amanda! You actually preheat the oven to 425F and then crank it up to 450 right when you put the puffs in. This creates an active heat in your oven and helps them to really puff up. Hope that helps!
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  33. Is is possible to make the puffs ahead of time and freeze then thaw and fill when ready to serve? I'm trying to plan ahead a bitfor the holidays.
    • Hi Pat, I would recommend freezing just the shells after they are completely cooled. The day you want to serve them, let them thaw at room temperature for about 15 minutes and then fill them!
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  35. These looked super delicious, but every single one of them came out burnt. The tops looked fine, but the bottoms were black. I followed the recipe exactly....and then had to cut the bottom off of each of them. I was very disappointed as I prepared them to make for multiple potlucks. I have made cream puffs previously, but could not find the recipe I had used before. I think I managed to salvage them, but will be choosing another recipe the next time I decide to make cream puffs.
    • Hi Kaitlyn, Sorry to hear that these didn't turn out for you! Since this is a tested recipe, I would love to help you troubleshoot. It sounds like your oven may be cooking too hot. Do you by chance have an oven thermometor to check if the stated temp on your oven is the actual temp? You also want to be sure that your oven rack is positioned in the middle of your oven, and not lower as that could contribute to burnt bottoms. Another possible issue could be using a pan with a dark coating. Was that by chance the kind of pan you were using?
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