For example, an hour before your mother and her friends are set to arrive at your house for cocktails, your boyfriend's dog tries to eat your brand new coasters. Although you're able to save them, you are not as successful when 30 minutes later, at a crucial moment in the pate a choux process, he eats all your pretty new cocktail napkins.
Thankfully, you get the gougeres in the oven only to find out, 15 minutes later, that a convection oven is in fact, not the same as a regular oven, and you never should have turned it off because it's cooled down way, way too much, and they're still raw. By now, your mother should be arriving any minute. You crank the oven back up and pray. And decide to open wine. Of course, the cork gets stuck halfway out of the bottle, so you yank it and break it in half just as you peer your guests parking outside.
In a last ditch effort to save the only bottle of merlot you have, you hurriedly screw the corkscrew into the bottom half of the cork and pull with all your might, hoping and praying it doesn't fall into the bottle. Seconds pass and finally the cork pops out just as the doorbell rings... and your smoke alarm goes off. Using parchment paper on that second sheet pan was clearly a mistake.
Thankfully, even with this comedy of errors, my gougeres did finally finish baking just a few minutes after everyone arrived, and got rave reviews. Making pate a choux can definitely be tricky (remember the first time I tried it?), but this is the best technique I've ever used. I get great results every time. I included a lot of pictures throughout the recipe to hopefully help you understand how your dough should look at each step. Pate a choux is incredibly versatile but once you master the basic technique, you'll be jonesing to try eclairs, profiteroles, and cream puffs.
Yield: 40-45 gougeres
3/4 cup water
6 Tbsp butter, cubed
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp gran sugar
3/4 cup bread flour, sifted
5 oz or 1 1/4 cups grated cheese, divided (gruyere, pecorino romano, parmesan, etc.)
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne Pepper
For the egg wash, whisk the following ingredients in a small bowl:
1 tsp water
1/2 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with silpats and set aside.
2. Combine water, butter, salt, and sugar in a medium pot. Place over medium to med-low heat. The butter should melt just as the water starts to boil.
I cut my butter into about 12 pieces
This is how it looked still in the pot, but ready to be....
Transferred to my mixing bowl
5. Add the paprika and cayenne pepper. Begin adding the eggs, one at a time. Allow the egg to completely incorporate before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. After adding 2 eggs, begin to test the batter. Remove the bowl from the mixer and run your index finger through the batter creating about an inch-deep trench. The trench should fill in slowly. If it does not fill in at all, return the bowl to the mixer and add an additional egg. Repeat this process until the dough passes the "trench" test.
My trench had just started to close
And a few seconds later, it looked like this
6. When your dough is the right consistency, transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a medium-sized plain tip. Hold the bag about an inch from the silpat-lined pans and pipe mounds of dough. They should be about an inch tall with a diameter about the size of a quarter.
7. Bake the dough for 15 minutes at 500 degrees. Lower the oven to 350 and bake until the choux is puffed and golden, another 10-15 minutes. To make sure the puffs are cooked through, remove one from the pan. The bottom should be a nice golden brown and the cracks in the dough should no longer be white. Serve immediately or cool and freeze.
- It's important to use a silpat instead of parchment paper because the paper will burn at such a high oven temperature. But you'll use the silpat again and again; it's worth the investment!
- As you're adding eggs and testing the batter, keep in mind that you can always add half an egg instead of a whole one. For example, if your trench begins to fill in or is filling very, very slowly, scramble an egg and just add half of it at a time, testing in between.
- If using a convection oven, turn the oven off once you've put the dough in to bake. Leave the dough for 15 minutes, turn the oven back on, reduce the heat to 350, and continue to bake as directed.
- To clean the film from the bottom of the pot, return it to the stove over medium-high heat. Once warm, use a wooden spoon to scrape the film away before washing.
- To reheat the gougeres from frozen, place them in a preheated 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes or until just warm.