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Our food experts Fran Abdallaoui and Pamela Clark reveal the secrets to preparing choux pastry, a technique that is easy to master with a little practice.
how to make choux pastry
Choux pastry is unusual because it’s “cooked” before it’s baked and uses steam created by the eggs in the recipe as the raising agent. The puffs “puff” because the steam is trapped inside them, causing them to rise up and out. Each choux puff needs enough room on the oven tray to spread, so leave 3cm between each. This also allows the heat to circulate and brown the puffs evenly. Once cooked and cooled, the puffs can be frozen, then refreshed in the oven before serving. “Choux”, meaning little cabbage, describes cream puffs accurately.
MAKES ABOUT 24 PREP AND COOK TIME 45 MINUTES
75g butter, chopped ½ teaspoon salt ¾ cup (180ml) water ¾ cup (110g) plain flour 3-4 eggs 1 Preheat oven to 220°C (200°C fan-forced). Grease two oven trays. Combine the butter, salt and the water in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil – do not let the water boil for longer than necessary while melting the butter as it will evaporate and affect the balance of ingredients. 2 Add the flour all at once, beating with a wooden spoon until mixture is smooth and pulls away from the side of the saucepan to form a ball (Step 2, below). Continue to beat for a further 30 seconds1 minute over low heat. 3 Transfer dough to a medium bowl. Using a wooden spoon, beat 3 eggs into dough, one at a time, beating vigorously and thoroughly after each addition (Step 3). Add enough of the remaining beaten egg to dough until it is thick and glossy and just falls from the spoon – not all the egg may be needed. 4 Drop rounded teaspoons of dough 3cm apart onto prepared trays (Step 4). Sprinkle or spray puffs with a little water. 5 Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 200°C (180°C fan-forced). Bake for further 15 minutes or until puffs are golden. Cut a small opening in base of each puff; return to oven for 5 minutes or until puffs are dry. 6 Choux puffs can be filled with sweet or savoury mixtures (Step 6), such as thick custard or vanilla-scented cream.
Suitable to freeze. Not suitable to microwave.