Choux...need HELP!

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by pongi, May 6, 2002.

  1. pongi

    pongi

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    Hi everyone!
    Need help from you professional bakers! As an amateur, I have never made choux successfully in my life :( . Sometimes they don't puff up enough; sometimes they sadly go down after cooking; sometimes I add too many eggs and they taste like crèpes; even when they look good, the taste is totally different from the ones you buy in a pastry shop. So, I have a lot of questions:

    1)Flour: which type? I have always used normal white flour, anything better?

    2)Eggs: this is the only ingredient whose amount varies according to the different recipes (suppose it depends from the egg size, that is never specified) but how could you realize when they're enough? Most recipes say "add more eggs until the dough is smooth enough" but I need an easy way to know when I reach the right consistency...

    3)Procedure: how long are you supposed to cook the butter/flour/water mix before adding the eggs? The dough takes about 1 min to stop sticking from the walls of the pan, is it enough? (One of my recipes says 4 mins, does it make sense?)

    4)Baking: how long and which temp? Ventilating or not? Do you think that a home oven can be as good as professional ovens? How long should choux be kept aside into the warm oven when cooked?

    Obviously I know that, like bread, it's impossible to make "professional" choux at home...but being able to make something decent would be enough for me. Any good trick is welcome! :)

    Thanks in advance,

    Pongi
     
  2. w.debord

    w.debord

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    Hi Pongi,

    You definately can make great choux puffs at home. They don't require anything special at all. I would suggest staying with a recipe exactly until you become comfortable in what the correct consistancy should be like before you bake by feel.

    1.All purpose flour is fine.
    2.Use grade A large eggs in all baking recipes as you learn. Otherwise your converting recipes and thats one more place you could make a mistake. An mistakes aren't that fun (unless your rich).
    3.Procedure: bring your water and butter to a full boil then dump your flour in all at once. Stir vigerously until it becomes a paste. Cook it for ABOUT 2 or 3 minutes. The cooking does firm up your paste but it's not MANDATORY.
    4. Bake, I like 375 it gives it a better lift then 350. You don't need a convection oven!

    Judging when they are done: They do require a rich golden color to dry out the insides enough. A full tray at 375 in you home oven making small eclair shells should take about 40 to 50 minutes (but that's a guess because I don't bake by time) Just know that they take much longer then many items. Some people prick them with a screwer to open the puff up and let steam escape so the center dries....but I don't care for that.

    If you aren't very good at piping you can scoop the paste.

    You can flavor the paste and pipe many interesting things with it. But when your really for more, come back and we'll talk more.

    My recipe: (a very small batch)

    1 c. water
    1/4c. butter

    then:
    1 c. flour

    off the heat in a mixer you add 4 eggs.

    P.S. Your problems sound like your adding too many eggs and or not baking long enough. Don't be scared to let them get good and dark golden. Good luck, let me know how it goes.
     
  3. angrychef

    angrychef

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    I agree with what Wendy has said.
    Here's a little tip to know when you have the right consistency: after adding the eggs and mixing thouroughly, stick a spatula or spoon in the mixture and pull straight up. If the batter forms a "V", meaning the batters hangs from the spoon in a pointed fashion, it's done and the right consistency. The mistake most people make is making the batter too stiff. And also usually the amount of water and eggs in the recipe are the same.
    A very hot oven for the first 10-15 minutes is crucial, I start at 400F and then lower to 350F to bake them all the way through. I prefer baking them in a regular oven than convection. As Wendy said, you don't have to prickle them open(specially when you make them by the hundreds!), just bake them long enough to they remain stable and puffed when they are done.
    Have fun baking your chouxs!
     
  4. kimmie

    kimmie

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    I weigh everything when I bake so bare with me:

    250 ml water
    5 g salt
    5 g sugar
    100 g butter
    150 g all-purpose flour
    150 g to 200 g eggs (3 to 5 large eggs)

    A trick:
    For the eggs, I "liquify" the eggs in a measuring cup then pour a little at a time (in 4 instalments), making sure the egg is incorporated between each addition; it's much easier to judge if you need another whole egg or just part of one. That's harder to accomplish when your eggs are whole.
     
  5. pongi

    pongi

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    Your advice made me understand a lot of things...just the ones that are never explained in most recipes (I HATE cookbooks that say "bake at medium heat until it's done" or something like that:mad: )
    I just realize that, in example, I underbake my choux, probably due to the fact that most recipes report a baking time of 10'-15' which seems to be too short according to your posts...but all your suggestions are precious :)
    I'll keep you updated!

    Pongi
     
  6. w.debord

    w.debord

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    Oh my gosh, what book told you 10 to 15 minutes for choux paste? That's not even funny. Only for thin swan necks....

    DEEP golden is a must...
     
  7. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    I've never learned a recipe for Choux paste, and given the vagueness proportions, eg., Kimmies "3-5 eggs" I can see why! :) :) I've always thought that the important things to remember were:

    1) Allow the paste to cool a bit before you add the eggs

    2) Add the eggs one at a time

    3) Don't overbeat the eggs

    Kuan

    PS: These guys probably make it a lot better than me, and sometimes I wonder if all my tips above are really myths.
     
  8. chefjerome

    chefjerome

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    Try using milk instead of water in your recipe. It will give more flavor and body to the end result. :bounce:
     
  9. w.debord

    w.debord

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    Kuan those are myths or at least they've become accepted as not necessary. None of those points make a difference.

    Milk is fine, it's more expensive (speaking of which you can even use margerine instead of butter if you were looking at costs). I use milk when I'm making gougeres.
     
  10. w.debord

    w.debord

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    Last night I was looking thru a French cookbook and saw something I'd never heard of before. They made quenelles starting with a choux base. They added fish (flaked) and firm egg whites, seasoning and poached them for 10 to 15 min. then baked them at 375 for another 10 to 15 (coated in sauce) till they slightly puffed. I've never seen choux in a poached context.
     
  11. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    I KNEW IT! CHEF was full of S.... :) I was wondering because, as a young saucier, I was always in a hurry, and it NEVER seemed to make a difference!

    Kuan
     
  12. m brown

    m brown

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    Kuan, your chef was not full of s***, to learn the technique of choux you must learn the process without scrambling eggs! As you learn on your own you will find you do not need to take so much time and care but you must understand how to get there. the journey is it's own reward!

    i like to bake the choux at 425 F until golden colour is reached then drop temp to 350 F to dry out center.


    milk makes for a richer flavored and coloured choux and a dash of sugar and salt adds flavor to the choux.

    shortening can be used in place of butter but the taste suffers though the shelf life expands.....

    choux can be fried too.
     
  13. pongi

    pongi

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    Considering my problems with "normal" choux, I've never made Zeppole, but know the recipe and actually they're fried choux, rolled into sugar after frying. They can be made plain or adding soaked raisins to the dough. The "Zeppole di S. Giuseppe" (Father's Day on March 19) are filled with custard and garnished with candied cherries:lips:

    Pongi
     
  14. panini

    panini

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    all good advice. My 2 cents. Evaporation of water is key to sucessful choux. Once your roux is coming off the sides of the pan I like to keep it cooking to release h20, this also eliminates any raw flavor in the end product. Then I work the protiens and cool (blood temp)in a bowl with the paddle running also releasing steam. Small batches need to incorporate each egg seperately. Binding the mixture after each addition. Run the handle of a wooden spoon through you mix like a valley and when its starts to close behind the handle, its ready. I'm like m brown, blast at 425 in the beginning to achieve your final shape as quick as possible to avoid late expansion(cracks), lower and again, remove h2o by baking and drying at a lower temp. I always season with salt and sugar.
    I'm to tired to reread, hope this makes sense. Happy mom's day to all.:)
     
  15. pongi

    pongi

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    My update:

    My 1st attempt was too soft and my choux ended up spreaded on the plate:( Apart from this, the taste was good...

    My 2nd time the dough texture was good and they puffed very well, but I was so concerned about undercooking than (of course) overbaked them, so the shape was right but they were a little too dry inside (my hubby told me they were OK but I like choux a little moister)

    The 3rd time everything worked great, YIPPEE!!!:bounce:
    They weren't perfect yet but I was pretty satisfied and filled them with a nice Zabaione mousse (luckily I haven't got all those problems with custards:) )

    The 4th time made fried Zeppole with raisins and found out they're much easier than choux as you don't have to practice with baking times;)

    As I still have some problems with the right baking time, do you think choux must be still a little moist inside when you take them off the oven (I baked them at 425° for 10 mins and then at 350° for 30-35 mins)
    Which changes in their texture are given by additional egg whites
    in the batter and/or other fats but butter?

    Thanks again,:) :) :)

    Pongi
     
  16. kimmie

    kimmie

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    That's great Pongi. Practice makes perfect.

    When your choux are ready, turn the oven off, take them out, puncture them and put them back in the oven, leaving door ajar, for a few minutes.

    This should take care of excess moisture, without overdrying them.
     
  17. pjm333

    pjm333

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    One other thing to do with warm choux paste is to blend it with equal parts of warm pastry cream .."pate basque" and pipe it on a unbaked tart.. ex- put some frangipane with some fruit..pears.apricots etc in a raw tart shell and pipe on the pate basque and bake. It adds alot to a tart i think.

    patrick
     
  18. panini

    panini

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    Pat,
    Does it spread and cook to cover the top of the tart? Does it brown up and bake semi hard to where you can glaze it? Can you put fresh fruit on top of that? I guess I'm asking, how do you serve it?
     
  19. shimmer

    shimmer

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    What is choux exactly? I'm confused between the "drying out" comments and the "paste" comments. Is it a pastry, or a paste?

    And what do you do with them/it?

    ~~Shimmer~~:confused:
     
  20. kimmie

    kimmie

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    Shimmer,

    Uncooked, it's a paste that you can pipe onto a sheet tray. (See pic below). The heat of the oven transforms this paste into a beautiful light pastry shell.

    Choux pastry is employed just as commonly in sweet as in savoury pastries, but a small amount of sugar is added to the pastry when used in desserts. The most stunning example in the French repertoire of a choux pastry dessert is probably the croquembouche, in which choux puffs are filled with cream and secured into a pyramid shape with caramel.

    Just think of eclairs, profiteroles and cream puffs, Paris brest, etc.

    You can also make choux fritters: simply heat a pan with about an inch of light vegetable oil in it. Then fill a piping bag with the choux paste, and slice off nuggets of pastry as you pipe. Fry for about 5 minutes until even and golden.

    [​IMG]