Lesson 4: Pâte À Choux


We are all beginning to realise that this school is firmly rooted in the traditional recipes and techniques of an entire nation and history. There is no semblance of advancement or evolution in this building.


We are here not to learn the best recipes, we are here to learn the techniques necessary to become a good pastry chef and it is from these fundamental skills that we can then explore all the world has to offer.


I have wanted to make Choux for so very long. It is so simple, it is one of the most basic types of pastry, and it is also very easy to get wrong.


Interestingly, it is also the only type of pastry made HOT.


It is the source for so many of the most amazing and loved deserts – éclairs, profiteroles, croquembouche … I hope your mouth is beginning to water!


Today’s focus for the new techniques were two Parisian Classics and, as I found out, favourites of the people here:

  • St Honoré: Choux pastry on a shortbread base with caramel topped choux piped with layers of Chantilly cream
  • Paris Brest: Choux Pastry with roasted flaked almonds piped with a Praline Mousseline Cream


The two stumbling blocks for the day for many of the students was making and then dipping the choux into the boiling hot sugar, and piping the crème in the traditional method.


The Chef was very particular with the amount of caramel on each chouquette and very particular about the final outcome of our piping.


The Chef was very clever in creating both large and individual forms of the two cakes – all the more options for opportunities to make and eat them.


Saint Honoré

Paris Brest


Now, after enjoying the final products from the chef, it is time for Choux 101 Tips




Using a heavy based wide saucepan add the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt melting the butter and then brining the ingredients to a generous boil with big bubbles. Remove from the heat and immediately add all the flour. Using the spatula, mix it very vigorously, working the dough strongly and introducing lots of energy into the mix thereby creating elasticity. Once it is thoroughly mixed, return it to the heat to dry out the dough. Every now and then remove it from the heat and mix it vigorously to create even more elasticity. It will be dry enough once it no longer sticks to the spatula. Add the eggs then 1 at a time, it will separate from the dough but beat it hard and it will incorporate.


Tip 1: Mix it vigorously baby!

Tip 2: Be ginger with the egg amounts, the dough may require anything from 1 egg less than the recipe to 1 more than the recipe – so learn your consistencies well, you want a sheen and it to form a point from the end of a spatula.

Tip 3: When adding the eggs one at a time, don’t get scared when it looks like soupy eggs, keep mixing it vigorously and quickly baby!


Place your choux dough into the piping bag with a star tip or plain tip and pipe out your designs and small choux buns. Bake in a 150OC oven until they have risen and are golden.




For those interested… here is our practical class and the process of making my St Honoré



Now it all looks pretty simple… but how simple can shortcrust, choux and Chantilly cream really be!?!


It was the day for burns in the kitchen… no one likes the test for junior pastry students when they have to dip choux in searingly hot caramel!


I dipped 42 Choux into burning hot caramel – I SURVIVED! Although, according to a close source I covered each choux in too large a hat of caramel!


Whilst making the cake I must have eaten 6 of the caramel covered choux, the crisp crunch of the caramel and the moist choux were delectable.


I laced my Chantilly Cream with vanilla and Grand Marnier and I was most proud of the outcome!


…. Presenting MY St Honoré



I am most grateful to the wonderful people who consumed this cake with me, a certain two individuals had 5 slices each – THEY ARE MY FAVOURITE CUSTOMERS! I will share a cake with them any day!


The lesson of the day was… NEVER UNDERESTIMATE A CLASSIC – something as simple as choux and cream can be breathtaking!


One response

  1. Thank you for the lesson! I will definately make this.

    March 10, 2012 at 11:04 pm

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