Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pate a Choux... CIA Baking and Pastry

I wanted to attempt to make some cream puffs this week.  Well, in order to make Cream Puffs, you need to master the art of the Pate a Choux dough.  This dough is a pastry dough and can be made into Cream Puffs or Eclairs.  Not really sure what else you use this dough for, but it creates a  nice light, airy dough and is ideal for filling.

My first attempt made some pretty good results.  My second attempt...not so much.  My third attempt, better than the first.  The CIA Baking and Pastry book has all of the recipes and a lot of information.  But, as I learned from trying the Cream Puffs (Pate a Choux dough specifically), it really does not give a lot of guidance. I'm sure that if you were taking the class, the teachers would have some insight before while and after you are making the recipes.  But, because I'm not taking these classes, I am trying, making mistakes and/or perfecting them on my own.  Hopefully you can benefit from these mistakes and I will try and give you the 'tips' I learn from my research after I make the errors:)

This recipe is in weight measurement.

Pate a Choux
16 oz milk   (I used whole milk)
8 oz butter (2 sticks)
3/4 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
8 oz. bread flour
1 pound eggs  (this equals roughly 9 large eggs)

1. Bring the milk, butter, sugar and salt to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat, add the flour all at once, and stir vigorously to combine.  Return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 3 minutes.

2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat briefly on medium speed with a paddle attachment.  Add the eggs two at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.

3. The Pate a Choux is ready to be piped.

So, the first time I made this, it came out ok.  I forgot to egg wash it but it was ok.  I thought it was a little runny but the shapes held up.

The second time I tried it, the dough was so runny I didn't know what to do.  I looked it up on line and picked up a few pointers.
- Let the heated dough sit for a few minutes before mixing it in the stand mixer to start cooling down.
- Add the eggs 1 at a time to make sure you don't need them all... if you add too many eggs, the dough will be too runny and useless.
- If you get to the point where your dough is too runny and doesn't hold any shape when piped, you have gone too far and there is no correction.  You must DUMP it!!
- Even if the dough pulls away from the pan immediately after adding the flour and putting back on the heat, keep mixing over the heat to help the moisture cook out.

Some recipes tell you to stir vigorously while adding the eggs and not to use the stand mixer.  But, I found, on the 3rd go around, that the stand mixer works.  Also, keep that dough cooking over the heat for a few minutes... even if it is already pulling away from the sides of the pan.  A film should form on the pot as you're mixing.

Milk/butter/sugar/salt mixture melting away..

This was the first attempt.  Think it should have been a little stiffer... less eggs..

A little flat, but they came out ok... see below..

I will tell you all about the actual Cream Puff and Eclairs in a separate post!!

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