- 125g cold water
- 100g butter
- good pinch of salt
- 125g strong bread flour
- 200g eggs - variable
Choux pastry is more like a batter at the makeup stage than a firm dough or pastry. One of the secrets to top quality choux pastry is cooking the roux base and knowing how much egg to add.
Saint Honore Éclairs pictured above - see recipe here.
Boil the water and butter in a saucepan, remove from the heat and add the strong flour. Return to a medium heat and cook this basic roux through for 1 minute, stirring all the time. Avoid overcooking the roux as this will dry it out.
Allow the roux to cool slightly before adding the eggs in small additions (one at a time), beating well between each egg addition. Add enough egg to hold 'medium peaks' or when you run your finger through the mixture, the trench walls will remain standing for approximately 10 seconds before collapsing in on themselves.
Place into a piping bag with a small 1cm tube inserted and pipe 10cm éclairs onto a greased tray. Bake in a hot oven (200ºC). Do not open the door for the first 20 minutes. Remove from the oven when dried out inside and cool before filling with cream or crème patisserie.
Points to consider when processing choux pastry
- Always use strong flour.
- Do not leave the water and butter boiling too long, as some of the water will evaporate.
- Always use fresh eggs.
- Do not overcook the roux, as this will dry it out.
- Ensure you add the correct amount of egg, adding it in small additions, beating well between each addition. The amount of eggs will always be variable.
- Always bake in a hot oven.
- Never open the oven door too early, as this will allow the steam to escape.
What causes choux pastry to rise?
- The choux pastry enters the oven as a thick, shiny mass.
- Once steam is produced from the water within the batter, it pushes upwards causing the choux pastry to 'balloon' and rise. Do not be tempted to open the oven at this stage.
- Once the pastry has risen to its maximum and the moisture from the batter has escaped, the protein (albumin) present within the eggs will coagulate (set) giving the choux pastry strength and structure.
- At this stage the choux pastry must be given time to dry out, otherwise the proteins inside will not support the outer shell and the baked choux pastry will collapse upon cooling.
Storage of choux pastry
Unbaked choux pastry should never be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, it should be baked fresh straight away. It is common practice to freeze baked choux pastry, which only requires thawing out before use. Some bakers place the thawed choux pastry in a warm oven for a few minutes to dry any moisture obtained during freezing.
Once the choux pastry has been baked, place directly onto cooling wire as this will allow air circulation and prevent the product from sweating.