Sunday, July 26, 2009
Don’t let cream puffs scare you!
That’s the title to this cream puff recipe in an old cookbook that was my mother’s. I’m not sure how old the cookbook is, because several pages front and back are missing. I do remember making cream puffs from this very book when I was in Junior High School… and that was a very long time ago!
The recipe starts out, “Light the oven and heat to 400ºF.” Perhaps the cookbook was put out by a gas appliance company? I guess I’ll never know, since Mother is long gone. The recipe itself is a basic cream puff (Choux Pastry) recipe, just like many on the internet, but the photos in the cookbook encouraged me to try making cream puffs all those long years ago.
Put ½ cup water and ½ stick of butter in a pot. Must be real butter!
Measure ½ cup of sifted all-purpose flour into a bowl and add 1/8 teaspoon salt; set aside. Bring the water and butter to a boil and dump in the flour mixture all at once. Stir vigorously over low heat until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pot. Remove from heat.
Add 1 egg, beating into the dough until it is smooth and glossy; add a second egg and beat it in until the dough is really smooth and glossy. (I used 2 duck eggs, because I had them. I can't say they puffed any better than hen eggs would have... but I haven't made cream puffs in a long time.)
Drop by spoonfuls about 2" apart onto a greased cooking sheet. Do not spread out the dough. (I made just 6, but I have made a dozen or so bite-size cream puffs from the same amount of dough. Just reduce the baking time.)
Bake in the middle of the oven for about 20-25 minutes at 400ºF then reduce the heat to 350º for another 5 minutes. When they are just lightly browned, remove one cream puff from the oven and allow to cool a bit. If it falls, put it back on the baking sheet with the others and bake another 5 minutes or so. Try cooling just one again to see if it falls, if you think they may not be baked enough.
You can use the same dough recipe for éclairs. Just put the dough into a pastry bag without using a tip; pipe the dough into strips about 4" long on your baking sheet. Allow 2" between strips.
Once cooled, the cream puffs can be filled with almost anything you choose… a pudding mix, whipped cream or a whipped fruit filling, a custard…
Whatever you use as a filling, dust the tops with a bit of powdered sugar and serve.