Pate a choux is one of my favorite pastries to make. It's easy, very rewarding and super versatile. You can make a big batch and use half for appetizers by including a savory element and the other half can be used for dessert by filling them with custard and dipping in chocolate. These shells also freeze really well, so you'll always have a quick treat to offer when unexpected guests drop by!
Technique tips: This is a foolproof recipe for choux pastry. The inclusion of baking soda ensures a fluffy pastry while the bread flour gives a nice, soft crust. Make sure and cook your dough until most of the moisture is evaporated. Include enough eggs so the dough is glossy but not runny, it should hold its shape when you run your finger or a spoon through the batter. For a crispier crust, lightly dust with powdered sugar before baking. Prick your puffs when they come out of the oven to allow steam to escape.
Swap options: Substitute half of the water for milk for a softer pastry. Add 1 tablespoon granulated sugar for a sweeter dough.
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 cups minus 1 tablespoon (2¾ ounces) bread flour
- 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon (2 ounces) cake flour
- 8 ounces eggs (about 3-4 eggs), room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1. Preheat oven to 425°F and line a half sheet pan with a silicone baking mat. (You can use parchment, but silicone is best. If you use parchment here, put a little dough in the corners of the sheet pan before placing the paper, this holds the paper in place.)
2. Bring water, salt and butter to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. The fat from the butter should be completely distributed throughout the water rather than just floating on top.
3. Sift or whisk the flours together. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add all the flour at once. Vigorously stir the mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula until all the water is absorbed. Make sure to break up any lumps of flour you notice.
4. After the water is absorbed and the mixture is turning into a dough, return to medium heat and cook the dough for 3-6 minutes, moving it around constantly. I like to smear the dough around and shake it in the pan to make sure everything is cooking evenly. You want to cook it until it starts to smell nutty and coats the bottom of the pan in a little fuzz. Once it looks like a big ball of dough that is holding its shape and will hold your spoon upright, pull it from the heat.
5. Add the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
6. Turn the speed to low-medium speed and mix for 3-5 minutes to cool the dough down. When the dough is cool to the touch, add the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next. If after you add 3 eggs and the mixture doesn't look glossy and is a little too stiff, add the fourth egg. The amount of eggs can vary and depends on the amount of water that was absorbed and evaporated in the first step of cooking. Then, add the baking soda. The mixture should be pipeable, glossy and should hold a line drawn through it with your finger or spoon.
7. Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a round pastry tip (alternately, you can use spoons or a plastic bag with a snipped corner).
8. Gently pipe out 1½- to 2-inch mounds, leaving an inch in between each. Lightly dampen your fingers and pat down any peaks on top of the dough. (For a crispier crust, lightly dust with powdered sugar before baking.)
9. Bake at 425°F for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and bake for an additional 12-15 minutes. Bake a little longer if you piped your puffs on the larger size. You want them to be golden, completely inflated, very light and sound hollow when you tap the bottom.
10. Prick the puffs with a toothpick upon removal from the oven to release steam. Let cool completely. After cooling, you can store in an airtight container or bag and freeze for a month.