Back to basics: How to make a perfect choux pastry

As a kid, I always look forward to birthday parties and family gatherings because my aunt would definitely bring along two types of sweets: mini chocolate cupcakes with colourful sprinkles and mini cream puffs.

I would always stuff my face with these bite-sized treats, alternating between the two because I cannot decide which I prefer.

I grew up and wanted to make some of my own. I attempted a recipe for éclairs from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets.  Unfortunately, I did not achieve the éclair that I was looking for. The results were quite the contrary; they looked pretty golden and puffed but they sunk after cooling out of the oven. Amid disappointment, I realised that making a good choux pastry is not that simple and in fact very technical.

Hence, I decided to write this post going back to the basics of making choux pastry because choux pastry is the genesis of so many French desserts like éclairs, paris-brest and croquembouche and also savoury bites like gougères (cheese puffs).

First, let’s understand how choux pastry bakes. Choux pastry leavens by steam. The huge amount of liquid in the choux paste evaporates to steam, expanding the egg protein, causing the rise in the puffs. Choux pastry must be baked well to ensure that the interior walls are dry. Even the slightest moisture will cause the shells to collapse when they are removed from the oven.

I actually bake my choux pastry at a lower temperature for a prolonged period of time unlike many choux recipes. This surprisingly works. I can assure you. They puff up beautiful, dry out and take on a lovely amber brown colour. And even after you take it out of the oven, it retains its beautiful puffed form.

My Cantonese grandma came up with her own name for these cream puffs. She can’t quite pronounce “cream puffs” and insists on calling them “Tin fa” which very loosely translates to “sky puffs/cloud puffs”.  I thought that it’s funny yet very apt for these light, fluffy, cloud-like goodness.

She only loves this as much as I do. I love them best when they are simple, not when they are filled with mysterious or fancy flavours but the traditional kind filled with a smooth, rich creme patisserie speckled with vanilla bean. Those are simply the best.

Pâte à choux (Choux Pastry) Recipe
Adapted from Stéphane Glacier’s recipe
Makes 20 large choux pastries or 40 small ones.

I like this recipe as it gives me consistent results every single time. They puff well and retain their puff and not become soggy and deflated unlike some of the puffs that I see  being sold. I choose to bake these at a constant (lower) temperature for a longer period of time so that they puff and then dry out nicely. They should have a even amber brown colour when they are done. But don’t use the colour of the choux pastry as the only gauge of doneness.  Don’t be afraid to remove a test shell from the oven and tear it apart to see if it’s dry. Only then should you remove the entire batch from the oven.


Ingredients:

188ml tap water
65ml full cream milk
100g unsalted butter, cubed
8g sugar
3g salt
150g plain flour
+/- 150g whole eggs, room temperature

for the egg wash:
(or use your preferred egg wash)
1 egg yolk
dash of full cream milk
pinch of salt

Method:

1. Prepare trays for baking the choux by greasing it with butter so that they would not stick on the tray.

2. Place water, milk, butter, sugar and salt into a pot and bring it to a rolling boil. It should be bubbling furiously.

3. Remove the pot from the heat or turn down the heat and pour in all the flour at once and stir immediately and vigorously with a wooden spoon/spatula.  Ensure that there is no lumps of flour in the *panade. Cook out the mixture over low heat for another 2-3 minutes. You should have a glossy panade that can be formed into a ball that comes away from the sides of the pot easily.

4.Remove the panade and place it into your machine mixer bowl. Using a paddle attachment, put the machine on low speed in order to cool the panade down for about 5  minutes. You wouldn’t want to add in the eggs when the panade is still hot. You may end up scrambling the eggs. Remember that eggs start cooking at 60°C (140°F).

5. When the panade is not hot to touch, with the paddle attachment still on, start adding the eggs one at a time at medium speed (speed 4 on the Kitchenaid mixer). The mixture may look like it has cuddled and split at first but be patient and allow the machine to do its job to emulsify the mixture. It will come back together in a while.

6. Continue adding the eggs until you get a smooth, thick, glossy paste. When you lift up your spatula, it should fall after roughly 3 seconds. It should be able to fall from the spatula on its own but not be too wet that it can’t hold its shape. You may/may not require the entire amount of eggs as stated in the recipe, depending on the consistency of the choux paste.

7. Place choux paste into a piping bag with a plain nozzle/star shaped nozzle. Pipe them as evenly as you can in blobs (like a teardrop). Do not flick the piping bag or when it bakes, it will form ugly cracks and seams and it would not rise neatly and evenly.

8. Egg wash the choux pastry with a brush and at the same time flatten down the little tips. This is to ensure that the tips do not burn.

9. Bake immediately at 180 degrees celcius in a pre-heated oven for about 40-45 minutes. Choux pastry must be thorougly baked. if the sides of the walls are moist, when removed from the oven, steam will condense back into water and the still-wet walls will recoil. This will cause the choux pastry to collapse/ and flattened itself.

10. You can check if the choux pastry shells are properly baked by removing a shell from the oven and tear it apart to see if the entire choux is dry. Only remove the entire batch when they are dry.

11. Fill these choux pastry with crème chantilly or crème patisserrie only after they have cooled completely. You can either slice off the tops with a serrated knife or using toothpick to poke a hole at the bottom of the choux pastry before piping the filling.

Choux pastry tips:

*Ensure that you cut up the butter into small pieces so that they will melt evenly. If you place a whole block in the pot, the water and milk would have boiled and evaporated before your butter has melted.

*Panade is a thick paste of butter, water, and starch, in this case, flour.

*Make sure that you have cooked out the flour in the panade by mixing it immediately and rapidly over low heat. However, the longer you cook the panade, the more eggs you would need to add as you would have cooked out a lot more moisture.

*Add in eggs to the cooled panade one at a time or they will curdle. Do not skip this step. This is also because we may not need all the eggs (or maybe we need a little more eggs) in the recipe. They key is to ensure that the choux pastry is of the correct consistency. Adding too much eggs may cause the batter to be too fluid and unable to hold its shape. This state is irreversible. So be cautious when adding the last of the eggs.

*Do not be afraid of beating the eggs into the panade. You would need to beat them at medium speed for quite a while before they are well-incorporated/emulsified.

*Egg wash the choux pastry before baking for a lovely golden brown colour but ensure that the egg wash does not drip to the tray if not the bottom of the choux pastry would be burnt.

*Bake the choux pastry immediately after you have piped them. And do not open the oven door to check on your choux pastry in the first 20 minutes of baking or it may collapse as the structure of the choux pastry is still unstable.

Storage tips:

*These unfilled choux pastry can be stored in an air-tight container in the freezer for a month. You should defrost them by heating them up in a 180 degrees celcius oven for about 5-7 minutes before filling them.

*Once filled with crème patisserie, they should be stored in the fridge and finished within 2-3 days. They are best eaten on the day that they are being filled, after which, they will begin to soften the longer you keep them.

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About jothetartqueen

My first love is eating. A very close second is my love for baking and cooking. I passionately believe that the best form of appreciation of something is almost always through the creation of it. This passion took me on a whirlwind, unforgettable ride through the patisserie diploma course at Le Cordon Bleu (Sydney). Join me on my discovery for the love of food – through the kitchen, through the markets, through experimenting, tasting and loving.
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85 Responses to Back to basics: How to make a perfect choux pastry

  1. Debbie says:

    Beautiful. I used to love puff pasteries when I was growing up. The filling was typically vanilla pudding. These look better! Thanks for posting.

  2. pattyabr says:

    pretty pretty pretty
    I saw them made once and was amazed how easy they were

  3. Oh my goodness those look to die for. I have not made these before and so I have booked marked your page.

  4. Thank you for letting us all in on the secrets of making these! My son loves them and I had no idea they were so tricky, I’ll be sure to take a look hear and read through a few times before trying!! Lovely little sweet treats!!

    • Thanks Barbara.. I’m sure your son would love these. I think they are easy to make but there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid disappointment. I was just chatting to my friend the other day and he was just telling me about how he made choux pastry that looked perfect but started to deflate after being left out to cool. That made me write this post..

  5. Yummy… we have something similar which call “Kue Sus” here and it is my childhood snack, my mum often shape the pastry just using teaspoon instead of pipping bag for simplicity. Yours of course look much prettier, will share this to mum (safe me from having to make this and yet get to enjoy the yummy treats) … devilish grin.
    By the way, do you have the recipe for the crème patisserie? Thanks 🙂

  6. thehungrymum says:

    They look amazing but I’m too scared to try! Hold me!

  7. What a great post to help those that struggle with choux Jo!! I find pastry making is smoother once you know those tips and tricks! 😀

  8. Spooky I should come across this (I loved your name when you commented on The Sundress Chefs post!). I’ve been having a go at choux this week, to some degree of success but this helps me to see that I was right with what I thought I’d done wrong! x

  9. Pingback: Choux à la Crème (Cream Puffs / Profiteroles) « Food Is My Life

  10. Your puffs are such an inspiration- Vegan choux pastry is still one technique I have yet to master. I came very close, but then got busy and forgot about it… Thanks for the reminder, I must still revisit the recipe!

  11. Perfect is right, this pastry is stunning 😀

    Cheers
    CCU

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  15. swati says:

    i have been meaning to try these and after surfing for hundreds of recipes on the internet i found yours to be the one thats giving me the courage to finally try them.

  16. loccochef007 says:

    am an upcoming kenyan chef i made choux today and it was the worst pastry i have ever made but when i read your tips i realised the recipe i was using was very crude hope to try yours tomorrow thanks for giving me an insight of what is to be done

  17. Mabel Toribio-Orden says:

    Thanks for giving us the recipe…it was a success! I have tried other recipes before and my cream puffs were disasters, haha!! Thanks for the tips you have provided…it helped me a lot! With choux pastry making, all i learned was one should pratice patience and follow the procedure thoroughly!

  18. Asha says:

    Thank you for posting this recipe! I have been making cream puffs for a long time but have always failed to keep them from sinking. Short of Heston blumenthal’s recommendation to keep the baked choux pastry in a 70C oven overnight I had yet to find another recipe that would make a difference. Hope it all goes well mine are baking right now 🙂

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  20. Fathsheom says:

    Hi Jo,

    Thank you for posting the recipe, I would very much love to try it out. However, I noticed you didn’t use baking powder in your recipe…
    Wouldn’t that make the pastry puffier?
    Sorry, just asking…

    • Hi there,

      I don’t know any choux pastry recipe that uses baking powder.

      How the choux pastry rises or puffs up is due to the steam trying to escape from the choux while baking. So you need not use a rising agent for this purpose.

      Hope this helps,
      Jo

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  22. Suzanne says:

    Love your recipie and tips though it would have been far more helpful to tell us how many eggs we need rather than 150g! Never seen this before in a recipie.

  23. marie says:

    Hi Jo,

    Greetings from Adelaide1
    What size nozzle used to pipe the choux pastry onto the baking tray?
    And where do I find the crème patisserie recipe-the link provided comes up as “page not found”.
    (Many thanks in advance)

  24. Pingback: Passion fruit pâte à choux with crumble tops | Jo the tart queen

  25. Vitso says:

    Hi 🙂 My pastry did not work out well. It sank and did not rise up at all. Don’t know what went wrong.

  26. Hi I tried another site recipe before discovering yours, an didn’t turn out,looked like sunburnt frisbees lol! have since read maybe I used the wrong flour? Would bread flour be better?…I used plain, thanks

  27. Opps I’m so sorry Corrie..I thought I was replying to you regarding the baking of a chiffon cake.. My bad.

    Pls ignore whatever I said earlier. You should use plain flour (all purpose flour) for a choux pastry and not cake or bread flour!

    Pls refer to my recipe above. It’s detailed with weight measurements. I have made the choux pastry all by hand before, you won’t have problems with that.

    The temperature and time (+/-) should work fine for a basic oven. Just bake it in the middle of the oven -with only a single tray.

    • Thank you Jo! Made the most awesome choux pastry and profiteroles! All due to your fantastic advice. The only diff thing I did was at the 40 min mark,took them out,pierced them with a knife on top and left them in the oven after I turned it off for 15 mins…worked a treat 🙂

  28. Angel Andres Rodriguez Fher says:

    Thanks for your recipe, this was the ONLY recipe of choux i tried that actually worked and fluffed perfectly.

    As a side note, i had to make several of these for a wedding reception and cooked them in a tartlet tray fearing in wouldn’t work but it did and everyone was pleased

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  30. Tina says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I was super nervous about making Choux pastry – my first attempt a few years ago was an epic fail! This recipe is perfect – made 40 eclairs on Sunday and 60 profiteroles tonight – the best recipe ever!
    Cheers Tina 🙂

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  32. Shaakira says:

    Thank you so much for the tips…i made profiteroles for the 1st time and they rose well and didnt sink but the bottoms were a little burnt. I baked at 220 and reduced to 180. So today i changed the temperature to 180 and reduced to 150 and they looked perfect in the oven but when i took them out they sank horribly…n were still moist on the inside..after reading your post i now know what my issue is..will try and bake at one temperature for the entire duration..i bake my chiffon cake at 160..so going to try baking at this temp..really loved your detailed tips..one question..my recipe differs from yours in the addition of milk. I use 250ml of water and no milk. Will this make any difference?

    • Hi there,

      Hope your next attempt on the choux pastry would be a success.

      You can stick to your recipe of using just water,a lot of recipes uses just water. I just like using this recipe with a mixture of both – milk for a little more flavour and colour.

      Jo

  33. jeb53 says:

    Thank you so much for this post!! After a failed attempt I tried your recipe and they were a great success! I was totally overwhelmed by the success, the longer baking period certainly helped. Thanks again for the great tips!!!

    • Thanks for stopping by to comment.. Glad that the choux pastry turned out well! 😉

      • nimokorean says:

        Hello, I’m Nimrod from Malaysia. Thanks God I found this site the tips about profiteroles. I’ve made my choux before and it didnt came out well. My choux had holes at the bottom. Is is because of my piping skill or is it because Im using salted butter or is it because I’m using uneven baking tray? Thanks ^^

      • Hi Nimrod,

        Could you clarify what you mean by holes at the bottom?

        In any case, using salted butter or piping wouldn’t be a cause of it.

        Maybe you can describe it a little more, I’ll try to help.

  34. Pingback: Choux Pastry (Pâte à choux) and Creme Puffs | Sugar & Spice

  35. Hi Jo,

    The first time I tried making choux pastries, it turned out like Pringles chips…
    But my second attempt was a success thanks to your recipe! I loved it so much that I just had to write about it: https://stephanietania.wordpress.com/

    Thank you for the tips! (as I will be making more of these in the future)

  36. Andrea says:

    Hi there
    Have got my batch of choux buns in the oven but they don’t look round, but mishappen. I think my choux paste might have been too thick. Any advice? Thanks in advance

    • Hi Andrea,

      If it looks too thick (too unpipable), you can add more eggs. What was the consistency of the choux paste when you made it?

      Also, if you didn’t pipe the choux buns but scoop out the dough onto the tray, they won’t turn out round but they are still good.

      How did the choux pastry turn out in the end?

  37. Lisa says:

    Ok…so I never leave reviews or anything…but this choux recipe? It is seriously AWESOME! The best recipe ever! I have tried numerous recipes that promise to deliver a beautiful shell, but they all sag and become soggy. I cooked these the night before filling them, and the following day they were just as perfectly hard and full as they were when they came out of the oven. Easy to follow recipe.

    Thank you so much! I can’t stop raving about this recipe!!!!! 😀

  38. maryann says:

    Can you break down the Ingredients in english

    • sorry, what do you mean?

      • heather says:

        I have made 10 batches of choux puffs over the last 2 days without success! need to get them right and after all the positive comments i want to try your recipe..Couple of things please
        The weight of eggs..out of shell or in shell..just weighed some and cant get that weight in shell and is an electric oven better than gas! thanks….

  39. Reblogged this on dodgingdesign and commented:
    really helpful, but didn’t match other recipes and buns immediately burnt after only a minute in the suggested oven heat

  40. Anna says:

    Hey.ur recipe looks fabulous..one querry regarding the buns..my eclairs rose beautifully and crisp when i got them out of the oven.once cooled i filled in the cream.but after a while thry went all soggy.i fail to understand why? Because of my cream or my buns were still moist after coming out of the oven?clueless

    • Perhaps you need to dry the eclairs out a little longer in the oven (lower temp maybe? if it has already gotten a nice golden brown colour). They may be beautiful and crisp but still moist on the inside. The cream won’t make the choux soggy. hope this helps! Sorry for the late reply.

  41. audrey says:

    thank you for the tips. My choux pastry everytime i make it always collapse. I will try your suggestion

  42. Sara says:

    Super super helpful!!! Thanks so much

  43. Eva says:

    I have a question, I have made eclairs and they have turned out flat or deflated how to correct this. Also when cut open there is no cavity inside to pipe the filling….how to correct this?

  44. Val says:

    Thanks for setting out your method for choux pastry in such great detail. I often think that those who write recipes/methods presume that we know far more than we do.
    I don’t have of the equipment you mentioned using in your recipe. Can all the mixing be done the old-fashioned way – by hand?

    Val

  45. KELLY NG says:

    Look so pretty…Will try this very soon…thanks for sharing the recipe ..

  46. Hezaan says:

    Great recipe, puffed beautifully

  47. jg says:

    I have made these before in a gas oven and they came out great. Do you make any adjustments for cooking with an electric oven.

  48. Ria St. Louis says:

    Try stuffing with cheese, tuna or chicken paste ♡

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  50. Olivia West says:

    Hi there, I am looking forward to attempting to make profiteroles for the first time tomorrow. My mother has always made it look so easy, I’m hoping mine will be as good!

    A quick question which has already been asked above (but not answered): is the weight of eggs with or without shells? Roughly how many eggs is 150g?

    Thanks for the great looking recipe! Olivia

    • Brigitte says:

      Funny that was going to be my exact question.lol.
      I am trying to make it for my mums 98 th birthday tomorrow. I’ve got everything ,but stuck on the eggs. Looks like there’s no reply.
      Mmmmmm what to do.

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