PMAT Live! Episode 7: Pâte à Who? Pâte à Choux! as Part of a Multi-Media U-PMAT Class of the Same Name

Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator

That's what it does. That's all it does.

Have you guys seen that spot remover machine Thing that you just put down on a stain on your carpet, push a button and walk away?  It’s magical.  No, I don’t have one, but I’ve seen it on Television, and I’m sure that all the claims are true.  It’s called a SpotBot, and that’s exactly what it is.  It’s kind of a robot-ish Item that removes spots.  It’s what it does.  It’s All It Does!!!!  Sorry, Terminator moment.

You just put him down on top of a stain, flip the On Switch and wander off to eat Bon Bons or whatever while the little dude fulfills his raison d’etre.  For Six Minutes, it squirts solution, scrubs and then sucks up the dirty water.  ‘Cause that’s what it does.  You don’t have to keep scampering over between every bon bon to check that it’s doing its Designated Task.  It just does it, because that’s what it’s designed to do.  I bet SpotBot is great friends with The Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Series 800 Terminator.  They just get each other, you know?

I’d like to propose another entrant into the Made To Do One Thing Very Well Without Any Monitoring By You category:  pâte à choux. Pâte à Who?  Pâte à Choux.  I won’t repeat that, because I don’t want you to smack your monitor, but that term is French for choux paste.  And that’s part-French for cabbage paste.  Now it all becomes clear, right?

Wait a minute, ain’t them cabbages vegetables?

Oh, good remembering!cream puff shells

Bless the French.  They do like a Descriptive Turn of Phrase.  The choux paste, when baked, puffs up and looks a bit like heads of cabbage.  If you cock your head to one side.  And squint.  Regardless of whether it looks like cabbages or cotton balls, the fact remains, the stuff Does puff up.  Because that’s what it does.  That’s All It Does!!!!

If you, as The Thumb, use the right proportion of water to flour and beat in some eggs to get the Proper Consistency, you can then know that your paste will become all Cabbage-Like in the oven.  Because, say it with me, “That’s what it does.”  And you can go eat some bon bons.  Or clean your carpet.

I now give you (one of) the SpotBot(s) of the pastry world:  pâte à choux.
A couple of Items before I let you go:

  1. Per 4 oz flour, you will need 4 oz butter, 8 oz water and 8 oz egg (about 4 large).  If you find that the consistency of the dough is still a little too Stodgy after the 4th egg, add in another yolk or half of a white.
  2. pate a choux can be sweet or savory.  For sweet ones, keep the salt down to about 1/4 teaspoon per cup of flour and the sugar up at about 1 Tablespoons per cup of flour.  For savory, use 1/2 teaspoon salt per cup of flour and just a heavy pinch of sugar.
  3. Don’t be afraid to add herbs and/or spices to your dough.
  4. You don’t have to bake pâte à choux.  Poach them to make light and yummy dumplings.  Deep fry them to make churro-type deals (roll them in powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar or Whatever).  Oooh, I bet you could even coat a wee candy bar bite in pâte à choux and then deep fry them!  State fair, here I come!
  5. Add grated cheese to the mix and then bake it with more cheese on top to make gougeres, swanky little cheese puff dudes.
  6. You can fill your sweet or savory puffs with anything you like.  Heck, you can squirt Cheez Whiz up there, if you want, but that’s sort of going from the Sublime to the Ridiculous.  But who am I to judge?
  7. If your filling is too chunky to squirt (ew), slice off the top 1/3 of your puff, scoop in your filling, and set the top back on at a Jaunty Angle.
  8. You can pipe pâte à choux in any shape you want, freeze them, and then bake them off later.
  9. You can also freeze baked puffs, then crisp them up in the oven for a couple of minutes at 350F before using.

And I think that’s pretty much it.  Oh, don’t forget your Certificate of Pate a Choux Prowess!  You’ve earned it!

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Comments

  1. Joy says

    AWESOME! The timing couldn’t be better. I learned how to make eclairs and profiteroles in class recently. My chef had advised me that I could make them savory, as I have a couple of upcoming parties. I really like the formula that you provided. Thanks! Joy

  2. says

    I’m so glad that you insist on a balance of sugar and salt, whether the intended use is sweet or savory. But I want to know why most people don’t insist on using milk in their pâte à choux. For me, it’s not the same without it.

    • says

      You’re right, Camille. I should have specified that you can make up the 8oz of water w/part milk. I’ve made it both ways, and I prefer milk in the sweet version and all water in the savory. I think the milk assists in browning and adds a bit more sweetness, but the naked only-water kind let the flavor of the butter really shine through.

  3. says

    I like my new certificate of prowess :) I’ve only made choux pastry once during a baking class, and there was a lot of elbow grease (and no shiny mixer) involved. Seeing this, I fancy having another go – I think swanky little cheese puff dudes would be right up my alley!

    • says

      Well, I am woefully late responding to your comment, DS. I Sowwy. Anyhow, I made them sans mixer once, too. Once. I had blisters on my hands from all the Mad Stirring with a wooden spoon. The mixer makes these guys way more accessible. You should definitely go for it. And, since the dough is supposed to look like mashed potatoes at one point, it should be right up your alley! :)

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