How to Make Choux Pastry

I had no intent of making a post on how to make choux pastry but after making 4 or was it 5 batches of choux that’s what I’ve ended up with.  I’ve made probably more savoury choux than I have sweet ones over the years.  I went to the book I always refer to for sweet classics recipes; Michel Roux’s Desserts book.  I followed his recipe to the letter, only I saw from my first batch how the oven temperature was going to be a problem.  A problem resulting in more batches of choux but in the process I ended up with the best lightest choux I have ever made, baked perfectly with an outer shell feeling as thin and light as a crisp in your mouth.

When I realised during my first batch the oven temperature was too hot for the Paris breast, I opened the oven door to turn the pastry around and saw it collapse on me…yes I had opened the door in its first phase of setting…and no…it doesn’t like.  After it’s puffed up and most of the liquid has evaporated it’s fine to open the door but I made a mistake I know better than making.  I ended with uncooked mixture and burnt.

I discovered from making 5 batches the batter made with just water, like Dan Lepard has in his Baking with Passion book makes for slighter crispier choux than Michel Roux’s recipe using half milk and half water.  Larousse Gastronomique’s recipe states to use either.  The proportions of fat, flour to liquid and eggs is the same in the Roux’s book to Dan’s and many other books I have.

As I’m writing up this post I’ve been watching Michel Roux giving the contestants of Masterchef the task of making croquembouches stating that making a good choux is not easy but I disagree.  It’s an incredibly easy pastry to make and I would recommend it especially for those who hate making pastry, it makes itself and the only thing you have to do that might be a little hassle is the piping but even then you can skip it and spoon it on, if you really want to.

How to make a good choux crisp pastry is all about drying it out in the oven properly.  If you get that right, give it enough heat in the beginning to get it puff up but not brown too quickly you have a fabulous light airy crispy pastry.  As with the Pavlova I tried the oven in different settings and had the best result when it was on high while warming up the oven, turned it down to medium as soon as they went in, and once they looked cooked turned the oven down to dry them out further.  It’s the last drying out at lower temperature which will stop your choux coming out of the oven appearing crisp but will start to soften after a while or will taste a little moist on the inside and not crisp all the way through.

To make the Orange choux filled with Rhubarb & Vanilla Custard or the one with Rhubarb in Orange Blossom and Mascarpone Cream look here.

Or with Strawberries & Cream look here.

Sweet Choux Pastry

This pastry is best made on the day of eating but you can make up the dough and put it in the fridge for the next day, you need to let it come to room temperature before trying to pipe it.

You can make this half water half milk, after trials I prefer all water, it gives it a slight crispier pastry.  For the orange flavour choux add the rind of 1 1/2 small oranges or of 1 large orange plus 3 tablespoons of sugar to the liquid.  You need this sugar to balance the bitterness of the rind.

Oven Temperatures: Pre-heat the oven to 200C fan / 220C / 420F / gas 7.

As soon as you put the choux in the oven turn the temperature down to 180C fan / 200C / 390F / gas 6.  For choux puffs and individual Paris brest bake  20 mins.  For the large Paris brest bake for 35-40 mins.

To Dry Out: Turn it down to 120C fan / 140C / 280F / gas 1 for 5-7 mins for puffs, depending on size.  For individual Paris brest shapes dry for 10-15 mins.  For large Paris brest dry out 15-17 mins.

  • 250 ml / 1 cup of water
  • 100 grm / 7 tablespoons of butter
  • 150 grms / 1 cup 2 tablespoons plain flour (all purpose)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt if using unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar

Heat the water and butter, sugar and salt in a pan until butter has melted and the liquid comes to boiling point.  Add the flour all in one go and stir vigorously until the mixture comes into one lump.  Keep stirring over low-medium heat for a good 3-5 minutes until the mixture is dryer.

You may find the odd tiny lump of flour in the mixture, keep on mixing hard and they will amalgamate into the mixture.

Tip the mixture into a a bowl and add one egg at a time beating really well in-between.  At first the mixture will seem as if it doesn’t want to blend but it will.

By the end of the fourth egg the mixture will be softer, let it cool down and then use it.  You can store this mixture in the fridge for a day or two, but it means you need to bring it back to room temperature again before using it.

I loved using orange rind in the sweet choux, it went well with the rhubarb and strawberries and should think it would go well with many others.

My first attempt below of having the oven too hot, burning on the outside, collapsing from opening the door too soon…

and having raw mixture inside.

For some of the choux filled with rhubarb I glazed them first with marmalade.

When you cut open the choux they should be mainly hollow, full or air pockets and dry all the way through.