Choux Paste

by Eddy Van Damme on March 15, 2010

Making choux paste or Pate a choux is not particularly difficult, but it can be frustrating if you end up with big cracks on the surface of the éclairs or other products. I have spent a lot of time on researching and perfecting choux paste and I hope that this article will help, if you too, like to see smoother surfaced éclairs.

For years I would bake the éclairs at a high temperature, (Above 400°F – 200°C) it was what I was taught and it made perfect sense to me at the time. It made the choux paste expand very well and consequently made a large enough inner space for any type of filling. However, the other consequence was the irregular surface, the cracks, which makes it difficult to glaze the éclairs or other choux paste attractively.

To control the cracking, it is important to use the right flour or flour blend.  I have used bread flour, with lower gluten (protein) content with good results, but mixing part bread flour and part pastry flour is very good. Certainly many chefs use all purpose flour. The reasoning for using flour with slightly higher gluten content is to permit more eggs into the paste. More eggs allow good expansion in the oven at lower oven temperatures. Lower oven temperatures help in the reduction of cracking.

Another important factor is the baking process. When baking choux paste products, try to fill the oven quite full (A filled up oven creates more moisture in the oven) and leave the steam escape closed. The initial built up of steam will help with the expansion and reduce cracking as well. Once the products have reached their full size, slightly open the door for steam to escape and allow the choux paste products to dry properly.

Piping your products evenly spaced makes a difference as well and examine which oven temperatures work best for you. Smaller piped items need a lower oven temperature or you will end up with a cracked surface.

Not all flour mills have the identical amount of gluten in their specific bread or pastry flour, so you may have to experiment which flour or blend works best for you.  I suggest to make small changes at a time and observe the results.

Choux paste – Éclair Paste – La Pate a Choux

Yield: All or part of this batter can be frozen and baked at a later time. The recipe can be cut in half for home use.

1 Cup (8 oz) Milk 240 g
1 Cup (8 oz) Water 240 g
2 teaspoon (1/3 oz) Salt 10 g
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp (2/3 oz) Extra fine granulated sugar 20 g
2 sticks (8 oz) Unsalted butter, cubed 240 g
2 Cups (9 oz) 50% bread + 50% pastry flour 270 g
2 Cups (16 oz) Eggs, loosely beaten 480 g
  1. In a saucepan bring to a boil the water, milk, sugar, salt and butter.
  2. Remove from heat and immediately add the sifted flour. Stir well until combined. Return to heat and stir until the dough releases from the sides and bottom.
  3. Place the mixture into a bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium speed gradually add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl often. Once 14 oz (420 g) of the eggs are added examine the batter, it should be smooth and have a light sheen. It should be firm enough to hold it’s shape when piped. Add the remaining egg if needed.
  4. Pipe the batter using a large plain tip on parchment lined sheet pans. Brush with egg wash lightly if desired. Place in the oven at 350F (180C), steam escape closed. When the products are well expanded, open the oven door slightly to let the steam escape. Bake until the products are crisp when pressed on the sides. About 35 minutes for éclairs.
  5. When cool fill with pastry cream of choice and glaze.

Pastry Cream, Vanilla or Pistachio

Flavor the cream by either boiling one plump vanilla bean into the milk mixture or after cooling the cream add natural pistachio flavor of choice.

3 ½ Cups (28 oz) Milk 840 g
½ Cup (4 oz) Whipping cream 120 g
½ Cup (4 oz) Extra fine granulated sugar (a) 120 g
10 (10) Large egg yolks 10 g
6 Tablespoons (3oz) Extra fine granulated sugar (b) 90 g
9 Tablespoons (2.5oz) Cornstarch 75 g
2 Tablespoons (1 oz) Unsalted butter 30 g
  1. In a saucepan bring to a boil the milk, cream and sugar (a) and vanilla bean (If using)
  2. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks smooth, add the sugar (b) and whisk quickly and vigorously.  Whisk in the cornstarch.
  3. Add one fifth of the boiling milk into the yolk mixture and whisk. Pour the yolk mixture into the remaining boiling milk and whisk quickly until boiling and is thickened like honey.
  4. Pour into a clean bowl, cover with plastic food wrap (Plastic touching the cream) and set the bowl on ice to chill rapidly.
  5. For pistachio cream add the flavor and if desired also a few tablespoons of Kirsch liquor to enhance the pistachio flavor.  If vanilla pastry cream is made, a few tablespoons of Grand Marnier is also delicious.

44 comments on “Choux Paste

  1. That pate a’ choux was beautiful. The photos made it look a bit loosey-goosey, but that lat shot is perfect. What did you use for the chocolate rings? Acetate? Very cute.

  2. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Alex,
    Yes, the chocolate rings are indeed made on acetate. Pretty soon I will do an article on chocolate decor like this one.
    All the best, Eddy.

  3. Hilary Adams on said:

    This looks so good! I have promised myself to try these in the old “home kitchen” this week. I’ll let you know how it goes! The pic looks so good above, I can almost taste it! Almost… :0)

  4. Hilary Adams on said:

    Oooh! Sorry to post again! One question: natural pistachio flavor of choice? Is that an extract or an oil or a paste??? Is that something I can make here? Any suggestions would be fantastic.

    Thanks, Chef Eddy!! ;0)

  5. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Hilary,
    It comes in a paste. You can also blend unsalted pistachios into a paste with Kirsch and add this to the cream.
    All the best, Eddy.

  6. Bellísimas fotos. Un paso a paso excepcional. Apetece comerlo ahora mismo.
    Estoy deseando ver el post sobre los aros de chocolate con acetato.
    Buen día

  7. Darienne on said:

    We don’t have a “steam escape” on our stove, but the heat does rise through a hole in the left back burner. I assume that that hole acts as a steam escape and that I should block it off with, say, aluminum foil while backing the choux. Haven’t made eclairs in years. Am so glad I found your wonderful website last week!!! Darienne

  8. very nice! I have tried many recipes…ones with different flours, and milk or water…Just like Goldilocks and the Three bears…some tooo soft, too hard…..maybe yours will be just right! CHEERS! :)

  9. Maria Lau on said:

    This “tart” looks very scrumptious. The shape and color including the overall appearance looks very eye-catching. The blackberries would look great cut in half and face down. Anyways, this dessert should sell itself and disappear off the shelf. It looks so good don’t turn your head, or you might find a piece missing from your plate !

  10. Hello Chef Eddy,

    The photo’s are just incredible. The Choux Paste or Éclair Paste, have become less difficult to make as I have learned with practice. I am amazed a the finished product and how fantastic it taste.
    Pictures do speak a thousand words even more so when it taste as great as it looks.
    Carol Shavers

  11. kataka fred luchivya (lue) on said:

    Hi chef Eddy
    I love pate choux dough because its very versatile in both savory and sweet applications. i have a friends even family members who are not that keen on egg yolks especially the taste and smell. i know that pate choux’s main rising agent is the eggs the more eggs you put the better it rises while bakin in the oven. I was wondering can you just use egg whites? will the end result be the same

  12. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Lue,
    I have never made choux paste using only egg whites, therefore I am not certain what the result would be. It certainly is worth trying.
    Eddy.

  13. Diana Wallace on said:

    This was so amazing! The texture and flavor is a wonderful combination! One of my favorites!

  14. Chef Slack on said:

    Hi Eddy

    How long on your chocolate decor senor?

  15. Fiorella on said:

    Hi chef Eddy:
    This dessert is one of my favorite not only because the look , but also because the flavor, of the vanilla in the pastry cream and the texture of the eclair dessert make this dessert so wonderful.
    Of course the photo is very beautifull.
    Fiore Pissani

  16. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Fiorella,
    Thank you for the great compliment, I love eclairs as well.
    All the best to you,
    Eddy.

  17. These eclairs are great. Later chef eddy…

  18. Hi chef! Yesterday i made choux and i filled them with amaretto pastry cream lightened with wipped cream. It was nice. But there is a problem. Whenever i make lightened pastry cream it turns out grainy after it has been stored in the refrigerator for some hours. The same happened when i made a tart with lightened pastry cream and strawberries. The next day it was full of grains. However i never have problem with simple pastry cream. Thanks a lot!

  19. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Tasos,
    What could be the problem is that the whipping cream is whipped too stiff. Do not whip it as firm as you would to make creme chantilly. Whip it to a very soft consistency only. When you fold in the soft whipped cream into the cool and smooth pastry cream it will firm up automatically. Please let me know if this solves the problem.
    All the best Tasos,
    Eddy.

  20. Be back soon with an answer chef. Thanks for your response!

  21. those look super good. Could you share the icing with us?
    thanks
    nico

  22. Dear Eddy,
    Would you be so kind as to share what size plain tip you’ve used in the photos above please? the size looks perfect!

    thanks for maintaining such an informative site! I stumbled upon it looking for invert sugar. Your entremets and desserts are beautiful.

    Anika

  23. sheila on said:

    How many eclairs does this render?

  24. Thank you sooooo much for the tips on baking the pate a choux! My eclair shells came out just right! :)

  25. Crystal Swaim on said:

    Chef, I made profiteroles with an irish cream custard for some friends and also for my husband to take to work. They were a big hit! Initially, I messed up the flour weight and we ended up making another half batch and adding it to the full recipe and then only added one other yolk. Fortunately it was saved. When I pulled out the first batch the puffs fell because they were not cooked long enough, so I increased the time. After cooling all the puffs and filling one to taste, they didn’t seem crispy so I put them back in the oven for a little longer. Is there an easy way to tell that the choux is fully baked? I also made a chocolate sauce with the Irish Creme, but apparently these were so good it wasn’t needed! :) It’s my number one requested item now when I cook for friends.

  26. Hi Chef Eddy,
    I would love to know how you make your glaze. It looks divine.

  27. I’ve made this recipe several times and not once have had success and I’ve been in the business for two decades.

    I would like to ask what kind of oven you’re baking these in Chef. I’m using a convection oven and it’s not coming out at all.

    Best regards,

    Bill

  28. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Bill,
    Sorry this recipe is giving you trouble. What is happening? Are they collapsing when you remove them from the oven? If so, allow to bake until the sides are crisp. If you bake them in a fan forced oven and they brown too quickly and are not expanding as they should, reduce oven temperature a bit. If this is not the issue, please let me know so we can get this figured out.

    My best, Eddy

  29. Less is More on said:

    Hey Chef… couple of quick questions, if you don’t mind.

    Ideally, what percentage of protein should we be aiming for with the flour blend? And when you open the oven door to let the steam out, do you close it again or wedge it open a little for the remainder?

    Oh…and is it possible to get a glaze that nice and shiny at home or does it require pro additives?

    Thanks.

  30. Linda Montgomery on said:

    Chef Eddy, If I were to freeze the batter, would setting it out to thaw at room temperature ruin the product? What would you recommend for unfreezing? Also, what is the yield (I’m hoping for an approximate number) for this recipe of eclairs?
    Hope to hear from you soon. Linda.

  31. William on said:

    Hi Chef… just coming back to say I’ve finally had success with this recipe. Thank you much for posting!!

    Bill

  32. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Linda, defrost the choux paste batter in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.

  33. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    On the protien content, about 10% is good.

  34. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Great to hear William!

  35. Nicolas on said:

    Hi Chef,
    I was wondering how can I achieve a shiny-looking glaze like the one in the picture?

  36. Amy Taylor on said:

    I took laminated doughs last semester and this was the best recipe I have ever used to make eclairs and cream puffs! I have had some that did not rise properly and create that hollow center.

  37. Peter Tham on said:

    Something that I am looking forward to make in next semester “Laminated Dough” class… By the way Chef, whats the different between this and Profiterole?

  38. Sherri Atlas on said:

    Another wonderful vehicle for so many plated desserts. Again, I will practice over the summer, getting the choux to the right texture and taste. I see what you mean if they are underdone. Will not hold up to the fillings.

  39. Erica Harrell on said:

    I always wanted to know how to make puffed pastry. It was much easier to make than I thought it would be and I really enjoyed making them. I was also happy to learn how to fill them. The pastry creamy was great to. Thanks Chef Eddy

  40. Nikki Johnson on said:

    Hi Chef, I’m interested in making this a savory dish. How would you turn the pastry into a bowl and will it hold up if I put some type of stew into it?

  41. Abiel Guerrero on said:

    My love for pastry cream filled desserts really got me intrigued when we were making our dessert. Very glad when you explained the reasoning why the flour type mattered so much. Thanks

  42. Mary Lorraine Matiling on said:

    Choux Paste, one of the best thing ever created. It’s the perfect bite size vessel for any sweet or savory dish. I do love them with pastry cream alone dipped in chocolate but if you haven’t tried filling them with a cream cheese, garlic, SDT, jalapeno mixture, you should. It’s mouth watering.

  43. After you add your cooked choux paste to the mixer, do you add cold or room temperature eggs? And do you mix in the eggs immediately after you put your choux paste on the mixer?

  44. Dear Chef Eddy, I have been trying to get as close to your eclairs as possible. I’ve been juggling between several recipes and each time I get either cracks or they collapsed underneath. I only have a fan forced(convection oven) to work with. I cannot open the oven door as this turns my oven off. I’ve tried baking them for 33 mins at 180 degrees(again I am unable to open the door so can’t let steam out at all during whole baking process). I still get cracks in particular on the right of the eclairs. Also an unusual occurrence occurs when I piped the eclairs horizontally into the oven they seem to puff up but with cracks. When I pipe them vertically placed into the oven,cracks are lessened but they flatten out and collapse inwards from underneath. Please advice, very desparate. Also tried baking at 160 degrees for 40 mins, still same outcome.

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