Don’t let the name intimidate you—choux paste is an easy and versatile dough.
It’s time to put on an apron and learn how to make pâte à choux, commonly known as choux paste. This classic dough can be used for a variety of sweet and savory dishes, including eclairs, cream puffs, profiteroles, churros, cheesy gougères, and these peach-stuffed treats.
Pâte à choux is named for buns made by a French baker in the 1700’s—they resembled cabbages, or choux in French (pâte means dough).
While choux paste is a mixture of simple ingredients (flour, water, milk, eggs, butter, a pinch of sugar), success comes from using proper techniques to create perfectly airy results. There is no leavening in the recipe. Instead, a high moisture content from the water, and butter, along with a high proportion of protein from the flour and eggs, creates just the right conditions for the water in the dough to turn to steam and puff up the pastry during baking and stay puffed once the protein has cooked and holds the shape. It sounds tricky. Don’t worry, after you make it the first time, the process is demystified and you’ll be on your way to impressive desserts for all occasions. Start off by following these straightforward steps:
1. Bring the water, milk, butter, and any salt or sugar (for sweet or savory) to a boil.
2. Dump in the flour all at once and stir to form a dough.
3. Cook, stirring, until a thin film forms on the pan.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the eggs, one at a time.
5. Pipe onto greased or parchment-lined sheets and bake.
Pâte à Choux
- ¾ cup water
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon sugar (omit for savory dishes)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 5 large eggs
- Heat an oven to 400°F. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, milk, sugar, salt, and butter. Bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat but leave the burner on.
- Dump in the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a tight dough forms. Return the pan to medium heat and stir until the dough starts to leave a layer of cooked flour on the surface of the pan. Remove from the heat and transfer to a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
- Beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Slowly add the eggs to the dough. Keep the mixer running on low until the eggs are completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is smooth and cooled to room temperature. The dough should be smooth and have a thick consistency. (Traditionally, the eggs are beaten in with a wooden spoon. So if you don’t have a stand mixer, you can still make choux paste. Add one egg at a time and stir until it’s incorporated into the dough; repeat with the remaining eggs, one at a time. Each time, the dough will separate and seem a mess, but if you keep stirring, it will turn back into a lovely smooth mixture.)
- Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a ½-inch round tip; or, fill a resealable plastic bag and snip one corner to make a hole for piping. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. (Pro tip: To keep the paper from shifting when piping the dough, place a dab of dough on each corner of the pan, and place the paper on top.)
- Pipe 1-½-inch mounds onto the baking sheets, leaving 1-2 inches between them. Bake until a deep golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes.
*This recipe comes to us from Edible Northeast Florida. Photos by Sindy Gonzalez.