Choux pastry, or pâte à choux (French), is a light pastry dough used to make all kinds of famous and delicious pastries!
Profiteroles, croquembouches, éclairs, French crullers, beignets, St. Honoré cake, Paris-Brest, quenelles, Parisian gnocchi, dumplings, gougères, chouquettes, craquelins and churros. Choux pastry is fun and versatile and relatively easy to make.
If you follow the steps below, you will very well may want to make them all. Personally we love making small choux buns and eclairs. They are lovely simply filled with whipped cream, or our favorite recipe for pastry cream, but the possibilities to give them your own twist are endless.
But first let us share with you the way we like to make choux!
The choux pastry recipe
Ingredients for the choux paste
With this amount we make around 40 small buns (18 grams per bun)
150 g pastry flour, French type 45, you can also use all purpose / plain flour
220 g / 4 medium eggs*
125 g water
125 g milk
100 g butter
2 g salt (½ teaspoon with a dent)
5 g / ¾ tsp (vanilla) sugar
*Make sure you know the weight of the eggs, because the amount you use is important to the consistency of the paste. If you want to be exact, weigh each egg in a cup. If your 4 eggs are over the total weight, you can adjust with the last egg you are adding.
Before you begin
Choux pastry has two important stages. First you cook it and then you bake it. For the liquid, you can use water or milk or a combination of both. We choose the combination of both because this way you get a nice color and tender bite, but the extra water also allows for baking at a slightly higher temperature. We will always recommend using fresh butter, because of the taste. Using pastry flour with a low protein content gives the pastry the best chance to hold its shape during baking. Salt and sugar give the finishing touches in terms of taste and also dough consistency and color. Finally make sure the eggs you use are fresh and at room temperature to get the best result.
For beating in the eggs we use a handheld mixer at medium speed, which works very well for us. Alternatively you can use a standing mixer with paddle attachment. You can also do the beating by hand. Really give it some elbow grease when you do this.
Making the choux pastry
- Start by weighing all the ingredients. It is also important to know how much your eggs weigh (this is the weight without the shell). This is important, because the consistency of the choux dough must be just right, not too thick and not too sloppy.
- Sift the flour and set aside.
- Prepare the piping bag with the nozzle of your choice.
- Take a saucepan with a thick bottom and pour in the milk and water together with the butter, salt and sugar. Slowly bring this to the boil over low to medium heat, while stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon. When the butter has melted let the mixture boil a bit more vigorously for one minute.
- Now take the pan off the heat, add all the flour at once and stir well with your wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and the flour has absorbed all the moisture (see pictures).
- Return the pan to low to medium heat and stir for one more minute, so the flour can cook. This step is very important to stabilize the dough, even though it may seem not much is happening.
- Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl. Now, either with a mixer or by hand beat the paste for a few moments and then immediately mix in the first egg, while the paste is still warm. Add the other eggs, one by one, do not add the next egg until the current egg is fully incorporated. Again, it is very important to get the right consistency, so with the last egg you can still adjust the amount. If you use the right type of flour and the amount of egg we indicated, you should be very close to the sweet spot. Only if you think the paste is so stiff it needs extra moisture, you can add a bit of warm milk to correct this. Do NOT add extra flour at this stage, because it will not be cooked.
Choose a nozzle you like for the piping of the choux. A smooth version if you want to glace them or a serrated one to make the buns already look pretty good with just a touch of icing sugar.
- Put the dough in a piping bag and pipe the desired shapes on a baking tray, lined with baking paper. Optional you could give the choux an egg wash, this will smooth the surface. Otherwise you can smooth out any tails with your finger, first dipped in water.
- Place in the preheated oven, convection setting at 175 °C / 350 °F (for the conventional oven setting start with 190 °C / 375 °F). You can bake the buns at this temperature for the whole baking process, or (depending on the workings of your oven) you can bake them in two stages and lower the temperature to 165 °C / 330 °F after the buns have gotten their color, volume and a crust has formed. You can test this and see what method yields the best result. Do not worry about a few cracks appearing in your pastry during baking. It is a delicate balance between a well puffed up bun and a the right shape and surface.
After the first stage (especially if your oven is sealed very well) you can slightly open the oven door and let the steam escape. The total baking time will be around 20 to 24 minutes. The choux buns should be golden brown and, what pastry chefs call, ‘dry’ on the inside. This effectively means the inside should feel moist but no moisture is to be seen. If they sink after baking this means there was still too much moisture inside and you will need a slightly longer baking time. Make a note for your next bake!
Advice for storing and freezing
Baked choux buns will loose their freshness and crispy exterior relatively quick. So it is best to serve and eat them within hours of baking. Moisture left in the buns will make the pastry soft, but do not worry too much, they will still be delicious.
If you want to keep them for longer, you can store them in the freezer. If possible it is best to flash freeze them 30 minutes after baking. Try not to squeeze them or pack them too tight for the best result. We store them in a big container, so each bun has enough room. Consume them within 2 to 3 weeks.
If you want you can also freeze the unbaked paste, but again need to use it preferably within 1 to 2 weeks.