Saturday, 9 June 2012

Pâte à Choux

Had an empty afternoon this Saturday, so I decided to try something from my amazing new recipe book, Sprinkle Bakes. In case you haven't heard of this book, or this blog, the author/artist is Heather Baird and she is phenomenal. This is her blog. VISIT IT. Your life will never be the same.

Besides being overwhelmingly creative with everything she makes, the book offers simple steps to follow, extremely helpful tips and pictures, and rather than encouraging you to follow exactly as she does, she encourages creativity and imagination within the recipes. Screw drawing and painting, baking & confectionery is the new visual art form. 

I've had the book for a couple weeks and still hadn't attempted anything yet, but have been pouring over the pictures on an almost daily basis. So today when I asked Taylor what he wanted for dessert later and he said "cream puffs" I knew I could try it out for the first time (...the perks of dating a baking addict...)

Holy crap. Easy, delicious, and so impressive. These classics will be made by me again and again. Unfortunately, Rob left with his camera for the weekend, so the glory of these babies weren't really caught to the full extent, but my iPhone really tries.

Ingredients (Pastry)

3/4 cup water
6 tbsp butter
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs
egg wash: 1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt


1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Prepare a pastry bag for piping.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, sugar, salt and over medium heat bring it to a boil.

3. When it reaches a boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour. Mix well to combine.

4. Return the saucepan to the heat and cook while stirring until dough pulls away from the sides to form a ball in the middle.

5. Transfer dough to a bowl and stir for a couple minutes to cool slightly. Preheat the oven to 425*F.

6. Add 1 egg to the bowl. When you begin to mix, the dough will break apart into pieces and look loose and glossy. Continue to mix until the egg incorporates and the dough looks similar to mashed potatoes. Repeat doing this with all 4 eggs.

7. Fill pastry bag with dough and pipe dough mounds that are an inch wide and an inch high, about 1.5 inches apart on the parchment paper. 

8. Dip your finger in water and smooth down any bumps and peaks on top from piping. They should be smooth and rounded on top. Brush on the egg wash.

9. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until they've puffed up and golden are brown. 

10. Reduce the oven temperature to 350*F and continue to bake until they're dry (the book suggests 20 minutes longer but I found this was too long, I left mine for about 15 minutes)

11. Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool. 

Ingredients (Pastry cream)

2 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup whole milk
1 egg
2 egg yolks
6 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp butter 
1 tsp vanilla


1. In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 of the milk. Beat in the whole egg, then each yolk one at a time.
2.  In a saucepan, combine remaining milk and the sugar. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. 
3. While whisking the egg mixture continuously, slowly pour in 1/3 of the milk mixture to temper the eggs. Return the remaining milk to low heat and slowly, while whisking, pour the egg mixture into the saucepan (it is crucial you do this  very slowly while whisking, or you'll have scrambled eggs in your pastry cream)
4. Whisk constantly until mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. 
5. Pour the pastry cream into a bowl and put plastic wrap directly on the cream, so it doesn't form a skin. Cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate until ready to use.

*NOTE: this didn't make enough cream to fill all shells. I'd recommend doubling the recipe. That, or as I did, freeze the rest of the pastry shells.


Once the puffs and cream have cooled, using a small sharp knife, cut 1cm slices in the sides of the puff shells. Using a pastry bag, pipe pastry cream into the pastry shells. Sift powdered sugar onto the filled puffs or dip in melted chocolate. Voila!

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