Learn how to make the basic choux pastry batter (pate a choux). Choux pastry is a simple to make classic french pastry batter that has all kinds of uses including cream puffs, eclairs, profiteroles, beignets, cheese puffs, parisienne gnocchi, and much more!
Choux Pastry Overview
Skill Level: Intermediate | Techniques Used: Making & Drying Out a Panade
What is Choux Pastry?
Choux Pastry, also known as Pate a Choux, is a classic French pastry batter. In its basic form, it contains only water, milk, butter, flour, and eggs. One of the unique features of choux pastry is the batter is cooked on the stove top forming a sort of soft dough/stiff batter hybrid.
The pastry relies heavily on the amount of moisture present to create rise and puff in the pastries. The steam created when the water starts to evaporate in the oven is what creates the lovely hollow pastries that are filled with custards and creams or left empty and perfectly light and airy.
What Can You Make with Choux Pastry?
Choux pastry is an incredibly versatile pastry dough that can be used for many sweet and savory baking applications. When the batter is piped and baked it transforms into profiteroles, cream puffs, eclairs, and gougere (cheese puffs). When the batter is fried it becomes French crullers, beignets, and churros. Blanch then bake or saute the batter and parisienne gnocchi is the result. It’s like magic. One dough for so many different glorious final results!
How to Make Choux Pastry
For this tutorial, we are making choux pastry in its basic form, but it is a template to edit as you desire. If you want to make a sweet pastry dough, a few tablespoons of sugar could be added. And if you want to go a more savory route, some additional salt would be appropriate.
The liquid can also be substituted with something more flavorful or colorful – fruit or vegetable juice or stock would all work well. Herbs, spices, and extracts can also be added. Choux pastry is your blank canvas!
Step 1: Boil the Liquid & Butter
The water, milk, butter, and salt are all brought to a boil. The butter needs to be completely melted and the mixture should be boiling before moving on to the next step.
Step 2: Create the Panade (Add the Flour)
Remove the boiling mixture from the heat and pour all of the flour into the pot at once. Stir vigorously until it all comes together into a smooth batter. This first mixture is called a panade, which is just a culinary term for a starchy thickener.
Step 3: Dry out the Panade
Once the flour is completely incorporated into a smooth batter, bring the pot back to medium heat and flatten the mixture to the bottom of the pan. Let it sit there until you start to hear it crackling quite a bit. At this point, push the mixture to one side and if you see a thin film clinging to the bottom of the pan it is dried out enough. If it is not, continue cooking it until a film forms.
Step 4: Evacuate the Steam
Remove the mixture from the heat and stir it until most of the steam has evaporated off. This process continues to dry out the pastry and will allow the pastry to achieve a nice golden color when cooked.
Step 5: Beat in the Eggs
Off of the heat, add the eggs in one at a time. Stir vigorously after each egg until it is completely absorbed into the batter before adding the next. Once all of the eggs are added and thoroughly mixed in, the batter will have a smooth and glossy look. The glossiness is an indication of when the choux pastry is ready for use!
Step 6: Bake with your Choux Pastry!
Choux pastry is best when used within a few hours of making it. While it can be used immediately, I find I have the best results when the batter has rested for about an hour. Transfer it to a pastry bag and use for any kind of choux pastry needs!
Choux pastry can be used for so many delicious pastries! Below are a few to test out your choux pastry skills with:
Basic Choux Pastry, Pate a Choux
Choux pastry (pate a choux) is a simple to make classic french pastry batter that has many uses including cream puffs, eclairs, profiteroles, beignets, cheese puffs, parisienne gnocchi, and much more!
- 1/2 cup (4 fl oz, 118 ml) water
- 1/2 cup (4 fl oz, 118 ml) milk
- 1 stick (1/2 cup, 4 oz, 113 gr) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- large pinch kosher salt
- 1 cup (4.25 oz, 119 grams) all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- Place the water, milk, butter, and salt in a sauce pot over medium high heat. Stir until butter is melted and everything comes to a boil. When the mixture is boiling, take it off the heat and pour the flour into the pot all at once. Stir quickly and vigorously. This mixture is called the panade.
- When the mixture becomes smooth, flatten it to the bottom of the pan and return it to medium heat. Let the mixture sit on the bottom of the pan until you start to hear it crackling. At this point pull the mixture to the side and if there is a thin film left on the bottom of the pan it is dried out enough. If there is not, let it heat for a little while longer until a film forms.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and stir until most of the steam has evaporated. This is called “evacuating the steam” and is important to further dry out the pastry dough.
- Off of the heat, add one egg at a time into the mixture and stir vigorously until it is completely absorbed into the dough before adding the next. The batter will look smooth and glossy when it is ready. Alternatively, you can move the mixture to a stand mixer and mix in the eggs one at a time with the paddle attachment. This is more helpful when making larger batches of choux pastry.
- Use immediately or store covered in a cool spot for up to 3 hours.
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