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Pâte à Choux: All you need to know and gettin’ started

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

#1 Éclairs

An éclair is an oblong pastry made with choux dough filled with a cream and topped with chocolate icing. The dough, which is the same as that used for profiterole, is typically piped into an oblong shape with a pastry bag and baked until it is crisp and hollow inside. Once cool, the pastry is then filled with a vanilla-, coffee- or chocolate-flavoured custard, or with whipped cream, or chiboust cream; and then iced with fondant icing. Other fillings include pistachio- and rum-flavoured custard, fruit-flavoured fillings, or chestnut purée.

#2 Profiteroles

A profiterole, cream puff, or chou à la crème is a filled French choux pastry ball with a typically sweet and moist filling of whipped cream, custard, pastry cream, or ice cream. The puffs may be decorated or left plain or garnished with chocolate sauce, caramel, or a dusting of powdered sugar.

#3 Croquembouche

A croquembouche or croque-en-bouche is a French dessert consisting of choux pastry puffs piled into a cone and bound with threads of caramel. In Italy and France, it is often served at weddings, baptisms and first communions.

#4 Religieuse

Religieuse is a French pastry made of two choux pastry cases, one larger than the other, filled with crème pâtissière, most commonly chocolate or mocha. Each case is covered in a ganache of the same flavor as the filling, and then joined decorated with piped buttercream frosting.

#5 Gougères

A gougère, in French cuisine, is a baked savory choux pastry made of choux dough mixed with cheese. There are many variants. The cheese is commonly grated Gruyère, Comté, or Emmentaler, but there are many variants using other cheeses or other ingredients.

#6 Saint Honoré Gâteau

The St. Honoré cake, usually known by its French name gâteau St-Honoré, and also sometimes called St. Honoratus cake, is a pastry dessert named for the French patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs, Saint Honoré or Honoratus, Bishop of Amiens. It was invented in 1847 at the Chiboust bakery on Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris.

#7 Spanish Churros

A churro is a fried-choux—based snack. Churros are traditional in Spain and Portugal, from where they originate, as well as the Philippines and Ibero-America. In Spain, churros can either be thin or long and thick, where they are known as porras in some regions. They are normally eaten for breakfast dipped in champurrado, hot chocolate, dulce de leche or café con leche. Sugar is often sprinkled on top.

A Beginner’s Éclairs Recipe

(12 Eclairs)

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

Ingredients

150ml water

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

Procedure
-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.

Enjoy!
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