I've made pate a choux several times in the past before, but it had been quite some time. As such, I didn't catch that a key piece of information was missing from the recipe until my dough turned out like soup! :( The recipe states that you are to melt the butter in water, milk, and salt. Then remove the saucepan from the heat and add the flour. Well, it doesn't say if you're to melt the butter over low, medium, or high heat so I did it over medium heat. Unfortunately, if your liquid isn't boiling when you add the flour, it won't cook the flour and you end up with a soupy mess instead of a beautiful pate a choux dough! So, I've added those notes to the recipe so you can avoid that fatal mistake if you make this recipe.
Pate a choux(cannot be doubled)
Recipe source: Good Housekeeping Illustrated Guide to Cooking, 1980 edition
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gm) (4 oz) butter
1 cup (240 ml) water
¼ teaspoon (1½ gm) salt
1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
- Line at least two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper, or grease pans well.
- Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F/190°C/gas mark 5 .
- In a small saucepot, combine butter, water, and salt. Heat over until butter melts (and liquid has come to a full rolling boil), then remove from stove.
- Add flour all at once and beat, beat, beat the mixture until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pot.
- Add one egg, and beat until well combined. Add remaining eggs individually, beating vigorously after each addition. Resulting mixture should be somewhat glossy, very smooth, and somewhat thick.
- Using a ¼” (6 mm) tip on a pastry bag, pipe out about 36 swan heads. You’re aiming for something between a numeral 2 and a question mark, with a little beak if you’re skilled and/or lucky.
- Remove the tip from the bag and pipe out 36 swan bodies. These will be about 1.5” (40 mm) long, and about 1” (25 mm) wide. One end should be a bit narrower than the other.
- Bake the heads and bodies until golden and puffy. The heads will be done a few minutes before the bodies, so keep a close eye on the baking process.
- Remove the pastries to a cooling rack, and let cool completely before filling.
- Take a swan body and use a very sharp knife to cut off the top 1/3rd to ½.
- Cut the removed top down the center to make two wings.
- Dollop a bit of filling into the body, insert head, and then add wings.
- Your first attempt will probably not look like much, but the more you make, the more your bevy of swans will become a beautiful work of swan art.
Vanilla Crème Patissiere(Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla
- Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.
- Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.
- Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.
- Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.
- Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.
Chocolate Pastry Cream(Half Batch Recipe):
Bring ¼ cup (about 50 cl.) milk to a boil in a small pan; remove from heat and add in 3 ounces (about 80 g.) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, and mix until smooth. Whisk into pastry cream when you add the butter and vanilla.
Coffee Pastry Cream(Half Batch recipe)
Dissolve 1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder in 1 ½ teaspoons boiling water. Whisk into pastry cream with butter and vanilla.
Chantilly Cream1 cup (225 ml.) cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' (powdered) sugar
Chill medium mixing bowl and whisk in freezer for 10 minutes before beginning. In chilled bowl, whisk cream until it begins to foam and thicken. Add sugar and continue to whisk just until soft peaks form. Do not over-whip.
Freezing/Storage Instructions/Tips: While the crème filling stores well when covered tightly and kept in a refrigerator, the baked choux does not store well at all, especially after being filled. Therefore, you must eat these the day they are made. This won’t be a problem, though, I assure you.