Pâte à Choux, or choux pastry, is a versatile and unique French pastry dough that’s used to create a variety of delightful treats, including éclairs, cream puffs (profiteroles), and savory gougères. The dough is made by cooking a mixture of water, butter, flour, and salt before incorporating eggs to create a glossy, smooth paste that rises in the oven due to steam. The result is a light, airy pastry with a crispy exterior and a hollow interior, perfect for filling with sweet or savory ingredients.
- 1 cup (240ml) water
- 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 tsp (2.5g) salt
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- Optional: 1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt for egg wash
- Preheat the oven: Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Prepare the dough: In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the water, butter, and salt over medium heat. Stir occasionally to ensure the butter melts evenly. Once the butter has melted and the mixture starts to boil, reduce the heat to low and add the sifted flour all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until a cohesive dough forms. Continue cooking and stirring for about 2-3 minutes to dry out the dough slightly and cook the flour.
- Transfer and cool the dough: Remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the dough to a bowl. Let the dough cool for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to release steam and facilitate cooling.
- Incorporate the eggs: Add the eggs to the dough one at a time, beating well after each addition with a wooden spoon or electric mixer. The dough should be smooth, glossy, and thick enough to hold its shape when piped.
- Pipe the dough: Fill a piping bag fitted with a large round or star tip with the choux pastry dough. Pipe small mounds (for profiteroles) or elongated shapes (for éclairs) onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches (5cm) of space between each to allow for expansion during baking.
- Apply egg wash (optional): If using egg wash, gently brush the tops of the piped dough with a thin layer of the beaten egg mixture to promote even browning.
- Bake: Place the baking sheets in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastries are puffed, golden brown, and firm to the touch. Avoid opening the oven door during the first 15 minutes of baking to prevent the choux from collapsing.
- Cool and fill: Remove the choux pastries from the oven and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, use a small knife or a piping tip to create a small hole in the bottom of each pastry. Fill the pastries with your desired sweet or savory filling using a piping bag fitted with a small round tip.
Popular fillings for pâte à choux include whipped cream, pastry cream, and chocolate or fruit-flavored mousse for sweet pastries, or soft cheese and herbs for savory gougères. The filled pastries can be served as-is, dusted with powdered sugar, or topped with chocolate ganache for added indulgence. Pâte à Choux is a remarkable pastry that lends itself to a myriad of culinary creations, making it a favorite among both professional and home bakers.