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Mar 06

Custard Cream Puffs.

 

 

Today I am making a French classic ~ choux à la crème ~ or custard cream puffs to you and me.

 

 

 

It is Tuesday everybody and you know what that means … it’s time to bake something yummy for the office meeting. I had my heart set on making sinful Chocolate Fudge Brownies but R asked me to reconsider since it is the season of Lent and there are a few staff members in the office who have chosen to abstain from chocolate. Last week I made chocolate chip cookies and some missed out. Then I sent in some Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes as a mid-week snack, and again some missed out. I only sent in a few cupcakes coz I made a small trial batch at home. So anyway, this week R has asked me to steer clear of chocolatey foods for the sake of some of my most adoring fans who are unable to partake this season.

 

Fair enough. Nevermind that it was kind of a last minute request … I can pull rabbits out of my culinary hat, no problems. So I decided to make Custard Cream Puffs. Easy and quick. Also since the weather is warming up a little, I am sure lighter desserts would be appreciated.

 

I have attempted cream puffs in the past ~ ONCE, with less than desireable outcome. My mistake was not doing my homework and pre-reading before attempting the feat. So i got into trouble in two spots :

a) Mixing the eggs into the hot paste
b) Baking whilst opening the oven door to check on their progress.

The two cardinal mistakes one should avoid when making pâte à choux, I did exactly that.

 

So the darned things came out smelling delish but they were all deflated and somewhat hard. I never made it to the filling with custard phase. My flatmate at the time came into the kitchen and laughed at me, and even attempted to throw the puffs at me to prove how solid they were. He thought they were the saddest puffs he had ever seen and he was right.

This time round I HAVE been doing my homework and I have more knowledge about making pâte à choux … in theory. I have not made cream puffs since that last time in my tiny kitchen in Melbourne. So I will be keeping my fingers crossed today. I have just 4 hours to make and prep 50 cream puffs and take them to the office. Maybe I should have had a practice run first.  *gulp* Lots of reading and research … some very good sites out there if you want to watch videos and demos :~

 

 

 

  • 125 mls whole milk
  • 125 mls water
  • 113 g butter
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 110  g AP flour   200 g AP flour
  • 4 – 5 whole eggs.

 

1. Place milk, water, sugar, butter and salt in a deep pan. Bring to boil.

 

 

2.  Dump in all the flour at once and stir to combine. The mixture should thicken and form a sort of paste. You will know when it is ready when the paste forms a ball that pulls away cleanly from the sides.

 

This is where I think I started going wrong as the mixture did not ball up.

 

3. Take it off the heat and keep stirring vigorously to cool it down. Or add it to the bowl of a stand mixer and using a paddle attachemnt, stir the paste for about 2 mins.

4. Add eggs one at a time, making sure each addition is completely absorbed before adding the next one. The paste you finally end up with should be pliable but stiff enough to hold its shape when piped out onto a cookie sheet. Pipe about a dozen per sheet.

5. Bake in a really hot oven @ 210ºC for 10 mins. Then reduce the heat to 190ºC and let them bake for a further 15 mins. This step is important to ensure your puffs do not deflate upon removal from the oven.

6. Set aside on cooling rack for 20 mins. When completely cooled you can then fill them up with custard or pastry cream or whipped cream. Dust the tops with powdered sugar. This recipe makes about 36 bite sized puffs.

 

 

UPDATE : EPIC FAIL!

Ok so I do not know what went wrong this time but once again the cream puff has bested me.

I don’t understand … I did everything right! I followed the recipe and in the end everything did not turn out. My dough was way too runny and I was not able to pipe it out onto the cookie trays. All the demos I watched on YouTube showed chefs, amatuer and professional alike, all piping out symmetrical round blobs of dough and they held their shape very well. Mine looked like gloppy cake batter.

Shoved them in a really hot oven and all looked well, until I removed them … and then disaster struk. They all deflated and looked quite pathetic on the tray. They tasted great but they looked nothing like a cream puff. Am gutted.  *bangs head on wall*

 

The only puffs that actually puffed up.

 

 

These were good but the custard was not.

 

Then I tried filling the good ones with the custard I made the night before, but even THAT was a disaster!! The custard did not firm up and it was impossible to fill a pastry bag with the stuff  let alone pipe them into pastry cases. Uuugh! I might have had better lucky making Gougeres (cheese puffs).

But I am not giving up just yet. I will start again from scratch on another day. The cream puff hasn’t seen the last of me! Until next time then.

 

 

 

 

UPDATE : 7th March 2012 (One Day Later).

Okay, so I am going to attempt this recipe once again. I have been doing more research into conversion charts and trying to determine the correct weight that ‘1 cup flour’ represents. I believe this is where I went wrong the last time. Conversions from volume to weight measures always irks me.

 

Today I am consulting not the internet but Mr James Peterson’s cookbook ‘Cooking‘. He seems the sensible sort and I am going to put the fate of my cream puffs in his capable hands. For the same amount of liquid I used yesterday he is adding 1.25 cups of flour, as opposed to just the one cup. And my understanding of 1 cup = 110 g of flour. However, my friend Kerry thinks its closer to 140 g … and if this is so then my measurements were horribly off yesterday and I am miffed!

 

Last night I made a fresh batch of pastry cream and this time I shoved the actual recipe aside and went with my instinct. I added 30% more cornstarch than called for in the initial recipe and IT WORKED!! I now have a wonderful batch of thick, piping consistancy pastry cream. Huzzah! That bowl has chilled overnight and is now only waiting for the puff shells to get made. I will begin the process once the dishwasher runs thru its cycle and spits out some clean bowls for me to use. But before that, here is the recipe I used for the thick custard.

 

Filling for Cream Puffs.

 

  • 500 mls whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 65 g cornstarch  (ran out of cornstarch so I used custard powder, so I ended up with a bright yellow mixture)
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 85 g sugar
  • 113 g butter.

 

1. Bring to boil the milk and vanilla extract. If using a vanilla bean, split the bean and scrape out the seeds and add them along with the pod to the milk. Add 1 tsp sugar to sweeten the milk. Medium low heat. Do NOT over scald your milk or it will taste funny. And do not boil it to a rapid boil either. It will be ready when you start seeing little frothy bubbles start to form around the pan sides.

2. When the milk is hot enough, prep your eggs. Crack eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk lightly. In a separate bowl mix together the cornstarch and sugar. Combine the eggs and sugar + cornstarch in the bowl and you will get a thick yellow mixture. Do NOT let this sit on the bench for over 10 mins as it will turn grainy (sugar burn).

3. Take the milk off the heat and ladle some hot milk into the egg mixture to temper. Add about 4 ladlefuls. Keep whisking at the same time or you will get scrambled eggs. If that happens there is no saving the mixture … you will have to start again from scratch.

4. Once you have sufficiently tempered (brought up to temperature) the eggs, you can now add the egg mixture directly back into the hot milk mixture and return it to a low flame. The mixture will thicken almost immediately so stir constantly with a whisk and do not take your eyes off the pot for a second. Be sure to scrape the sides to avoid scalding or burning .

5. You will literally feel the consistency of the custard mixture change and once it starts thickening I suggest you take it off the flame and whisk in your butter separately. Cool down the mixture as fast as you can and do not leave it lying on the stove to cool to air temperature coz it is an egg mixture and you do not want it to poison anyone. Continue whisking to cool it down. It helps if you immerse the pot in an ice bath.

6. Once it has cooled down (but still very warm) cover the top with cling film and press the plastic to the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Chill overnight and it will be ready for piping the next day.

 

 

As for my cream puffs … SUCCESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Omg,  I am so so so chuffed with myself. After a hard battle I have succeeded in making cream puffs!

 

 

 This was how the raw paste looked when I dumped in all my flour (see revised amount up top). And it was perfect! Exactly how the recipes tell you it should look like.

 

 

And this is how they turned out after added baking time, the piped (perfect) custard filling, topped with cream and dusted with powdered sugar. Now all I have to work on is the shape.

 

 

 

 These taste SO delicious … I have already eaten three. Perfect texture, perfect consistency of filling ~ but my kitchen was so warm, the cream started melting.  So happy, cannot wait for R to get home and present my latest production. Yesterdays bad batch was taken to the office anyway. I threatened to throw them all out in frustration, but R came home from the office, packed them all up, took the bowl of custard and cream, and trotted back to the office. He said even thought they were essentially a deconstructed cream puff, people still devoured them within the hour. And R did not even get to sample any. So today I have put aside some for him in the fridge.

 

 

~ THE END ~

 

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2 comments

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  1. Tom

    Thank you Viv, they are yummy!!!

  2. kerry

    epic success!!!!! wish i could taste them. yippeeeeee!!!!

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