Finally, it’s happening.
Way back when, maybe around 2012 or so, I made eclairs for the first time. I don’t remember having any issues with the dough, but that was a long time ago.
I can remember the experience was fun, though.
When I made the eclairs for the first, I was part of a lovely food blogging community. One of the bloggers helped me to learn how to mix the dough correctly in the pan.
Sometimes memories are so funny how we can only see one little portion of the memory. For this recipe, the blogger made it clear to mix vigorously until the dough formed into a ball and moved away from the sides of the pan.
I’m not sure where I struggled with the recipe, I can only see the good memories.
It’s weird; even though I made Pate a Choux once before, I was still nervous to try making the dough again.
Every time I caught cream puffs or eclairs being made on the baking shows, I grew more curious…
…until I finally decided to make it happen…again.
Spoiler alert: my Pate a Choux played nice, and I made delicious cream puffs.
It took two tries this time, though, which is pretty good since that dough can be cranky.
On the first try, I got all excited and tried to rush the process. Everything does happen fast, but you still need to give each step the right amount of time.
Once I discovered my dough was too runny on the first try, I had to make it again. For the second round, I paused through each step and paid attention to the dough consistency.
Here are five things I learned about Pate a Choux dough:1. The mixing process in the hot pan happens fast, so you’ll feel rushed. Take a moment to breathe and mix the flour, water, and butter together for a minute or two, even after it has forms into a ball and moves away from the sides of the pan.
2. Eggs are not all the same size. That also means if a recipe calls for three eggs, add them one at a time to ensure you need to add more. You may discover your dough is the right consistency with only two eggs.
3. Make sure to mix the dough long enough to thicken the batter. Mixing and getting the right consistency could take 3-5 minutes. To test, you’ll lift the spatula, and as the dough slowly falls off, it will form a V-shape.
4. When piping out the dough, if it feels too runny and doesn’t stay in a solid shape, it will be a good indication the puffs will not bake properly. The dough needs to be thick enough so that when pipped out, each puff stays in the designated shape.
5. Baking takes time. When you think they’re done baking, you probably need more time. The puffs need to be dried out and a good golden brown. Optional: After 25 minutes of baking, pull them out and poke a hole in the bottom of the puff. Then bake them for an additional 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven, and puff.
I plan to make the dough more to ensure each step is correct.
The big takeaway from my experience with Pate a Choux–is don’t be afraid to bake the puffs. It will feel like you’re overbaking them, but if they’re not burnt, they’re probably okay.
Ultimately, it’s important to dry out the puff before you stuff it full of the creme patisserie (or ice cream). You’ll be able to see from the inside of the cooked puff if it looks wet and not dried out.
The truth is, each mistake helped me see how I could make the next batch better. So what feels like a failure is just a lesson for future recipes.
Oh, and I also discovered I was the biggest block with the recipe. I held myself back.
The recipe itself was not that hard. It’s going to be fun to create more sweet and savory recipes with Pate a Choux.
Have I made you curious, and now you want to try Pate a Choux?
OR, have you made Pate a Choux before? (Share your experience.)