Choux puffs

Dismissal of failure is folly. And it’s worse if one allows failure to break you.

Since that day when I failed in my experimentation with choux puffs, I resolved to attempt again because I suspected that the recipe has some errors in it and decided to try it out. Instead of yolks, I added in whole eggs today and my hypothesis was correct. It worked after that!

Of course, I continued to learn. The fickle-minded me decided to do the cream puff instead of eclairs. You need the puff to ‘puff up’ and thus the first half of the baking requires you to bake them in 200 C. Midway through it, I realised that my puff might be burnt, especially the tip of it and decided to turn down the temperature and because of that, they didn’t rise anymore.

For the second batch, I decided to try again. This time round, no matter what happened, I will let them bake for 20 minutes at 200C before turning down the temperature to 180C. It worked! I should have persisted in the first place!

It was really a journey of discovery as I read up more and I cherished this luxury to be able to do so. I would have believed that I have to squeeze in time for this to happen if I were to be enrolled in some courses. I mean, after all, even if I were to be in any culinary classes, the key to doing well is to try out the recipes on your own and to make more discoveries in the process.

So, discoveries I have made. And they are interesting indeed.

Pate a choux or choux paste or cream puff dough is not really a dough nor is it really a batter, though it goes through the stages of both. It begins as a loose combination of water, butter and flour like a batter. But this batter is quickly cooked, the flour absorbs the water, the starch gelatinizes and the mixture becomes stiff, more doughlike. Then eggs are added, beaten into the dough, and the dough thins out and heads back in the direction of a batter. What we have is a partially cooked dough batter that, when baked, puffs into an airy delicate bread that can be filled (often with cream) or coated with melted chocolate (eclairs). (Ruhlman, 2009).

choux paste needs high heat to rise up in the first stage and thus they are baked at a higher temperature for the first 20-25 min until they rise up to max height. Baking them at a reduced temperature for another 20 minutes helps to dry them completely. (Ishida, 2009)

And I discovered that I should place my tray one level lower in the oven so that the top tip will not get burnt when they are placed under high temperature at the first stage.

It’s a wonderful discovery, much more interesting than academics. And with all those food-tasting, I had better do more exercise to burn off the excess fats.

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