The Choux (pronounced Shoo) Pastry Dough is one of the very few dough’s that is cooked in a pot or kettle, before being formed and baked. The Choux Dough has a rich and lengthy history with name changes to match the diverse applications. However, as of the eighteenth century, it’s been officially known as pâte à choux, as the buns resemble cabbages—choux in French.
Unlike most dough’s, the Choux Dough doesn’t use a leavening agent like baking soda or yeast, but instead relies on steam created in the baking process to expand the dough. The dough is first baked at a high temperature to generate steam, and then is finished off at a lower temperature to set the pastry and brown the outside. The result is a hollow structure created inside the pastry that serves as a perfect cavity for cream or filling.
Fillings include pastry cream, whipped cream or fruits like strawberries as in the case of Alpine’s own Paris Brest. Choux Dough is also used to make popular favorites like cream puffs, profiteroles and eclairs.
According to experts, the secret to mastering choux is to pay close attention to the consistency and texture of the dough as you’re making it, and make adjustments (adding more or less eggs) to achieve the perfect texture and consistency. Ideally, the dough should slowly hang and stretch in thick ribbons.
- Feeling ambitious and want to tackle the dough at home? Below are some tips and secrets straight from our bakery.
- Use bread flour, not all-purpose flour or cake flour, so that the choux will have good structure.
- Measure the ingredients carefully.
- Don’t open the oven until it’s cooked or your pastry may run out of puff and not deflate.
- Use a pastry bag with the ½-inch plain tip to pipe the choux dough onto your baking sheet. You could just spoon it out into little mounds, or for éclairs, shape the dough into little cylinders with your hands. But a pastry bag will definitely give you a nicer result.
With literally dozens of uses, choux is one of the most versatile recipes of the pastry chef and something that we use every day in our repertoire here at Alpine.