Hot off the presses! My latest piece at Lucky Peach discusses the earliest fundamental recipe I tackled. My first menu, at a neighborhood restaurant called Eva in Seattle almost always had a profiterole on it, hiding under seasonal fruit compotes, standing in for biscuits in a strawberry shortcake, or holding scoops of spiced pumpkin ice cream. Baking pate a choux never failed to amaze me as it completely transforms in the oven. 10 years later, I’ve stopped tweaking the recipe, but will never loose the childlike awe of watching this pastry swell and puff in the oven. Read the full article over at Lucky Peach, there is a recipe to go along with it so you can try your hand at home!
Pâte à choux—the name of the French pastry behind cream puffs, gougères, and éclairs—is one of the most versatile recipes in classic patisserie. Somewhere between a dough and a batter, it takes its name from the rough, cabbage-like shape it takes when baked; once in the oven, it blows up like a balloon, so much so the Germans call these puffs “wind bags.”
I have chased the ethereally light, hollow, crisp cream puff for ten years. The goal: A dough that swells proud and taut in the oven, completely hollow with no webbing, and retains its light crispiness when layered between soft creams and shiny glazes.
It’s not as hard as it sounds; pâte à choux is a quick two-step process. First, you cook together butter and flour on the stovetop until it forms a thick paste. Next, you beat in eggs. That’s it. One tip: incorporate the eggs in a mixer, one at a time, and watch the sticky mass swallow each egg, break, then come back together. This gives you the opportunity to withhold a little egg if you see the batter getting too loose.
But as simple as the dough is to make, the science behind it is complex…….
“The most versatile dough in classic patiserie” The recipe for Pâte à choux