How To Make Choux Pastry Profiterole and Paris-Brest
Homemade Choux Pastry
Choux pastry is wonderfully versatile and can be used as the basis for a variety of fabulous desserts. Often people are a little afraid of choux pastry but provided you pay attention to what you are doing, making this delicious pastry doesn't need to be difficult.
Homemade choux pastry should be crisp on the outside and fluffy and light on the inside. It's so much better to make your own as shop-bought choux pastry desserts can often be a little soggy.
Here, I have given recipes for a basic choux pastry, along with suggestions for a couple of fantastic desserts - profiteroles with chocolate sauce and Paris-Brest filled with a decadent creme patissiere.
- 5 oz all-purpose (plain) flour
- 4 oz butter, unsalted
- 5 fl oz water
- 5 fl oz whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- pinch salt
To Make The Choux Pastry
- Pre-heat the oven to 425 F / 220C. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Now sift the flour into a bowl and set aside until required.
- Put the water, milk and butter into a saucepan. Heat gently until the butter has melted completely and then bring the mixture to the boil.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and add in all the flour in one go. Using a wooden spoon, beat the mixture until a dough forms. It should come away from the sides of the pan.
- Put the saucepan back onto the heat and stir continuously for approximately 2 minutes. The dough should look smooth and shiny at this stage.
- Pop the dough into a bowl and allow to cool for 3-4 minutes. In the meantime, beat the eggs. You just want the yolks to break up and blend with the whites - you're not trying to make it all frothy and yellow. Add in the vanilla extract and pinch of salt.
- Now start to pour the eggs into the dough, just a little at a time. After adding the eggs, stir vigorously. The dough will look as though it's coming apart, but if you continue to beat the eggs in with a wooden spoon, it will come together again. When it does, add a little more egg and beat this into the dough. Repeat the process until you have only a small amount of egg in reserve - you will use this to brush the top of the pastry before baking.
- You can tell the dough is ready when it is shiny and falls from the spoon in a way that creates a shape like a duck's bill (see photos).
- Spoon the dough into a large piping bag. The type of nozzle you use will depend on the type of pastry you intend to create. Pipe your pastry shapes onto the baking sheet and pop into the oven.
- Bake for 10 minutes and then turn the heat in the oven down to 350F / 180 C. Continue to bake tor 30 minutes.
- When the pastry is golden brown, remove from the heat and transfer to a wire rack. Cut the pastry in half horizontally as soon as you've put them on the cooling rack. This lets out the steam and prevents the pastries from becoming soggy.
- If the centres of the pastries still appear to be uncooked, put them back into the oven for 5-10 minutes to dry out.
- Once the pastries have cooled, you can fill and top them as you choose.
Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce
Follow steps 1-7 shown above.
Then put the dough into a piping bag with a star shaped or plain round nozzle attached. Pipe rounds of approximately 1.5 inches onto the baking sheet. All you need to do is hold the piping bag over the baking tray and squeeze out some dough, allowing it to spread out until you have a circular shape of the desired size.
Bake the profiteroles as shown in steps 9-12. Once cooled, fill them with fresh whipped cream.
To make a chocolate sauce, melt 3.5 oz chocolate (milk or plain according to your preference) in a bowl with 2 tbsp butter and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Use a double boiler - a bowl over a pan of simmering water - to melt the chocolate and butter together. Stir until there are no lumps and pour the chocolate sauce over the top of the profiteroles.
You can also use a store bought chocolate sauce and can make it hot or cold according to your preference..
Paris-Brest With Creme Patissiere
This is a wonderful French dessert which is named after a bicycle race held in 1891, between the cities of Paris and Brest. The pastry is shaped to resemble the wheel of a bicycle. Traditionally, they are filled with a praline cream but I prefer to use creme patissiere (pastry cream) in mine.
To make the Paris-Brest, follow steps 1-7 as shown above.
Then put the pastry into a piping bag with a star-shaped nozzle and pipe circles of approximately 6 inch diameter onto the baking sheet. Pipe a second circle on the top of each circle, so you have a double layer of pastry. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle flaked almonds over the pastries. Bake as directed above, remembering to cut the pastries in half horizontally as soon as you remove them from the oven. Fill with creme patissiere and dust with icing sugar before serving.
How To Make Creme Patissiere
To make creme patissiere (pastry cream), you will need:
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1 oz all-purpose (plain) flour
- 1/2 tsp good vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 cups whole milk.
- Whisk together the egg yolks with the sugar until they are well mixed and appear to have thickened.
- Stir in the flour, whisking well to get rid of any lumps.
- Put the milk and the vanilla into a saucepan and heat until it almost reaches boiling point. Don't allow it to actually boil.
- Whisking continuously, gradually pour the heated milk into the egg mixture.
- Return the egg and milk mix to the pan and stir over a gentle heat until the mixture comes to a boil.
- Cook for a further 2 minutes until the mixture has thickened. Use a whisk to stir continuously as it cooks to avoid getting lumps in the mixture.
- Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming and allow to cool.
- Use the creme patissiere to fill your Paris-Brest or alternatively it can be used to fill tart shells.