Pâte à Choux

Pâte à Choux

While most people probably have early memories of eating raw cookie dough or licking the spoon after mixing a brownie batter, my first pastry memories were of piping out eclairs and cream puffs. Pâte à Choux was one of my dad’s go to recipes for making desserts for special occasions or holidays.

Pâte à Choux is a French, light pastry dough that is the base for many desserts. The recipe uses very simple ingredients that most people will probably have in their kitchen already. Like most French recipes though, technique plays a big role.

Unlike a cookie dough or brownie batter, where you simply just combine all ingredients in a stand mixer, Pâte à Choux adds a few critical steps. The main difference is the fact that you actually “cook” the Pâte à Choux dough on the stove. How much egg to add and when is also a very important part of the recipe!

All About the Eggs

The eggs are probably the trickiest ingredient in this recipe. It isn’t an exact amount every time. It all depends on how long you cooked the dough on the stove and how watery your eggs are.

Some days you will need all the eggs in the recipe and some days you might need less. The amount of eggs in our recipe is just a good starting point but you really have to just pay attention when you are adding them in.

As you can tell from the picture above the eggs really help smooth out your dough and make it nice and glossy. Your dough should slowly hang from your spatula, stretch down, and fall in thick ribbons. We want to add just enough egg to get to this consistency otherwise the dough will be too watery and you’ll have trouble piping it out.

How to Use Pâte à Choux

For Christmas family gatherings my dad would usually be in charge of bringing the desserts since he was a Pastry Chef. Growing up I would always help him make Pâte à Choux for eclairs and cream puffs. Same dough just piped out differently.

Cream puff shells

The egg and moisture in the dough helps to create a hollow interior in the eclair and cream puff shells. Fill them with pastry cream and dip them in your favorite chocolate. That’s all there is to it!

For something a bit different, Pâte à Choux can also be fried instead of baked to make beignets. If you are craving something on the savory side add some cheese to the dough and bake up some gougères!

Related Recipes

Pâte à Choux

French, light pastry dough used as a base for many pastries. Use it to make eclairs, cream puffs, beignets, gougères, etc.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Author: inspiredthroughfood

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter cut into small chunks
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup + 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs beaten

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Combine the water, whole milk, vanilla, sugar, and butter in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium heat.
  • Remove saucepan from the heat and add in the flour. With a large wooden spoon, stir vigorously until the flour is incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan when mixed.
  • Place the saucepan back over a medium-low heat and cook dough while stirring continuously with the wooden spoon for about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and forms a ball. This process is to "dry out" the dough so that it won't be too moist.
  • Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Let dough cool down for about 5 minutes.
  • Turn the stand mixer to a low-medium speed. Pour in about 1/4 of the beaten egg and mix until the egg combines into the dough. Repeat this process until you get to the last 1/4 of the egg.
  • Check the dough at this point to see if you need to add the last of the egg. You're looking for the dough to be glossy and for the dough slowly hang, stretch, and fall in ribbons from the paddle attachment. If the dough is still too dry then go ahead and add as much as you think you need to get the right consistency.

For Eclairs

  • Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 5/8 inch star or plain tip. On a silpat lined baking sheet, pipe out 1 inch long oblong-shaped lines of dough. Make sure to space the dough at least 1 inch apart as they will expand while baking.
  • Wet a finger with a little water and smooth out any pointed tips left behind by the pastry bag.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Do not open oven while baking the dough or they will not form correctly. After 30 minutes turn off the oven, crack open the oven door about an inch and let sit in the oven for another 15 minutes to dry out.
  • Remove baked eclair shells from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool off completely.

For Cream Puffs

  • Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 5/8 inch star or plain tip. On a silpat lined baking sheet pipe out 1 1/2 inch wide rounds of dough. The easiest way to do this is to place the tip at the center of where you want the dough and just slowly squeeze until you get the desired size. You shouldn't be moving around the tip of the pastry bag to "draw" the rounds.
  • Make sure to space the dough at least 1 inch apart as they will expand while baking. Wet a finger with a little water and smooth out any pointed tips left behind by the pastry bag.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Do not open oven while baking the dough or they will not form correctly. After 30 minutes turn off the oven, crack open the oven door about an inch and let sit in the oven for another 15 minutes to dry out.
  • Remove baked eclair shells from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool off completely.

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