One of the greatest Classics, Pâte à Choux is one of the basics in the world Bakery & Pâtisserie. After all, many of the most famous desserts and sweet creations come from this pâte or dough, that imitates the shape of a “choux” or cabbage in French
Story behind it. . .
According to some cookbooks, a chef by the name of Pantarelli or Pantanelli invented the dough in 1540, seven years after he left Florence with Catherine de’ Medici and her court
He used the dough to make a gâteau and named it pâte à Pantanelli. Over time, the recipe of the dough evolved, and the name changed to pâte à popelin, which was used to make popelins, small cakes made in the shape of a woman’s breasts. Then, Avice, a pâtissier in the eighteenth century, created what were then called choux buns. The name of the dough changed to pâte à choux, as Avice’s buns resembled cabbages—choux in French
What is it after all?
Pâte à Choux is inexpensive, mmm it contains only: Butter, Water, Flour and Eggs. Instead of a raising agent, it employs high moisture content to create steam during cooking to puff the pastry.
This makes it a bit more “technical” or harder to perfect (bakers’ talk). If you need only 4 basic ingredients to reach that level of magic, then the moisture from the eggs, the steam while in the oven, or even a bad hair day will determine your success. Picture that and . . . get a frame too 😉
But is not sooo hard to manage. One of the rule of thumbs is the batter should be runny enough as to shape a well-defined triangle when you spoon it, before piping the dough. The dough is piped in most of the recipes, and the amount of eggs will be defined by the weather, the humidity of the room where you bake, maybe you need 1 more egg, maybe not
Famous Pâte à Choux Creations
if you ever wonder why the hassle behind this dough . . . well some of the most delish and reputable desserts come from it this dough. So, is best if we get to it and master it, definitely a classic you want to nail.
Here’s a list of some of the most well-known sweets made with the famous dough, but the list goes on
#6 Saint Honoré Gâteau
#7 Spanish Churros
A Beginner’s Éclairs Recipe
Here, we’ll leave a basic recipe to go starting. Honestly -is very simple at first sight- couple ingredients and most recipes refer to the same steps. The trick is to practice and trial-n-error
50g butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
65g plain flour
2 large eggs, beaten
For the filling
600ml double cream
6 tbsp lemon curd
For the icing
400g icing sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
yellow food coloring paste
For the decoration
100g dark chocolate drops
-Preheat the oven to 400F
-Grease two large baking sheets with butter
-For the choux pastry, put the butter and 150ml water in a small pan over a low heat, bring slowly to the boil, tip in the flour, then remove from the heat. (Stir vigorously)
-When a smooth paste develops, return the pan to the heat, stirring. The mixture will dry out a little and form a soft ball that comes away from the sides of the pan
-Remove the pan from the heat again, leave the mixture to cool slightly, then gradually add the eggs, beating really well between each addition until the mixture is smooth and glossy (Here, it should form a V shape when you spoon it, not too stiff, and not too runny)
-Spoon the mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a 1/2in plain nozzle
-Sprinkle the baking sheets with water (a water spray with a fine nozzle is good for this)
-Pipe the mixture onto the baking sheets into 3in lengths, leaving room between each éclair for them to spread a bit
-Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375F and bake for a further 20 minutes. Split each éclair in half lengthways and transfer to a wire rack to cook completely.
-Once the éclairs have cooled, whip the cream to soft peaks. Spoon half of the cream into a separate bowl. Fold the lemon curd into the bowl of cream
-Spoon the lemon cream into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2in plain nozzle and pipe the lemon cream into the bottom half of 6 of the eclairs
-For the icing, place half the icing sugar in a bowl and mix with enough lemon juice to form a very stiff icing. Color with the yellow food coloring and spoon into a disposable piping bag
-Place the icing on top of your filled eclairs
-To decorate, melt the white chocolate drops in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water
-Melt the dark chocolate drops in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Spoon into a small piping bag and snip the end off. Pipe swirls over the lemon icing.
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*Images taken from the Web