questions . . .
An area that seems to pop up time and time again are ones
on pastry production.
most areas of the kitchen, where a pinch of this and a dash
of that can work well, pastry making is more of an exact science
and I do not use that phrase lightly. Pastry making is all
about science, the science and chemistry of foods. Understanding
simple principles of what happens at a chemical level to the
ingredients, goes a long way to helping you make great pastry.
you want a perfect result each time, exact measurements are
required and certain techniques must be applied. For more
information on pastry making have a look at the page on
pastry making tips.
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pastry is my choice of the week this week. A wonderful
versatile pastry, that can be used in so many ways and be
made into professional looking desserts that will leave your
dinner guests stunned. Choux paste is also used in savoury
dish such as:
Dauphine (choux paste mixed with duchesse potatoes)
Parisenne (small poached dumplings masked with Mornay
sauce and gratinated)
for soups such as consommés
for canapés (small eclairs filled with savoury
(crescent shaped and filled with savoury mousses topped
with chaud-froid sauce)
Are small (bite-size) filled buns of choux pastry with
either a sweet or savory filling. They are probably French
originally, or at least the name is. The word originated in
French as diminutive form of "profit," and so etymologically
means "small gains" - and indeed it may have begun
with denoting "a little something extra" cooked
along with the master's main dish as part of the servants'
perks. Alexander Barclay, in his Eclogues (1515) writes "to
toast white shivers (slices of bread) and to make profiteroles,
and after talking oft time to fill the bowl."
The croquembouche (meaning crunchy in the mouth) traditionally
plays an important role at French weddings, baptisms, christenings
and other family gatherings. It has at its origins a fanciful,
edible, architectural structure displayed on the medieval
tables of the French Royalty and Nobility. It was later popularised
by Antonin Carème (1783 - 1833), the most famous French
Chef of his generation. He created Turkish Mosques, Persian
Pavilions, Gothic Towers and other pièces montées
from choux buns or profiteroles. The shape in those days was
that of a Turkish Fez.
whole genre spiralled upwards and out of control towards the
end of the Nineteenth century, but then subsided to manageable
dimensions. During the Twentieth century the croquembouche
has survived as a conical construction of choux balls piled
on top of each other on a nougatine base with a decoration
at the top.
where did this amazing little pastry originate? It has an
interesting little history. In 1533, when Catherine de Medici
left Florence in Italy, to marry the Duke of Orleans who was
later to become Henry II, King of France from 1547, she brought
with her to France her entire court, which included her chefs.
Seven years later in 1540, her head chef, Panterelli, invented
a hot, dried paste with which he made a gateaux. He christened
the paste Pâte à Panterelli. The original recipe
changed as the years passed, and so did the paste's name.
became known as pâte à popelini; popelins were
a form of cake made in the Middle Ages and were made in the
shape of a woman's breasts.
Chef de Patissierie called Avice perfected a paste in the
middle of the eighteenth century (1760) and created choux
buns or profiteroles. The pâte à popelin became
known as pâte à choux, since only choux buns
were made from it, choux meaning cabbage which
they are said to resemble. Antoine Carême (said to be
the first to wear the tall white chef hat/toque) in the nineteenth
century perfected the recipe further and this is the same
recipe for choux pastry as is used today.
Ingredients for Choux Pastry
How to make Choux Pastry
the butter in the water and bring to a full boil
add the flour all at once and stir continuously with a wooden
for a couple of minutes until the mixture pulls away from
the pan, forming a ball and remove from the heat
the dough in the bowl or a mixer, using a wooden spoon or
the paddle attachment, mix the dough for a few minutes,
allowing it to cool slightly
the beaten eggs gradually, in three or four additions, mixing
the dough until it is smooth each time. Scrape down the
sides and bottom of the bowl until all of the eggs are incorporated
paste should be of a pipeable consistency and not too runny
beignets, choros, etc
little finely grated cheddar, herbs, spices etc may be added
to the mixture for savoury fritters
into shapes onto lightly oiled strips of greaseproof
into a deep fryer (170ºC) and lightly dunk until the paper
can be easily removed
frying for 12 - 15 minutes until brown and crisp, turning
may then be coasted/tossed in a mixture of castor sugar/icing
sugar/cornflour and cinnamon
profiteroles, eclairs, etc
the dough into desired shapes, onto sheet pans lined with
parchment paper, allowing space for them to raise and expand
into a pre-heated oven, on the middle shelf: begin the baking
process at a high temp. (190º to 205ºC) and allow to bake
for 20 minutes - do not open the oven during this time
the heat to 120ºC and continue to bake until they turn golden
brown and crisp
one from the oven and cut open, it should be dry in the
centre with no uncooked dough in the middle: if there is,
replace and continue to bake at 120ºC
Chef's Tip on Choux Pastry
choux pastry products rise due to the egg content and steam.
Therefore it is essential that the oven is hot, when the
pastry is placed in the oven. Without this initial burst
of steam they will not rise properly or dry out, they will
stay flat and be soggy.
swans can be made by piping a profiterole using a large
star nozzle and then piping the necks with a fine plain
nozzle. As they are used only for decorative purposes and
very fine, these necks should be removed from the oven after
20 minutes, to prevent them from burning.
quantity (add to taste)
meaning a whole one of
your Choux pastry and bon appetit . . .
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