Saturday, 15 February 2014

G is for Gougères

Everyone I speak to seems to think that choux pastry is a pig to make.  It's not.  There are just a couple of things to remember. Once you've got those in your consciousness, it's easy, can be bulked up and is very versatile: think beignets, eclairs, gougères, Parisian gnocchi, profiteroles...

I think it's because there is a series of steps to follow that puts people off, but really...have a go...surprise yourself.

Of these luscious lovelies, one of my all-time-favourite freezer standbys is gougères. I typically quadruple the recipe below and then (once cooled) divide them up into bags of 20-ish to bung in the freezer.  They freeze beautifully and only take 3½ mins @ 200℃ to defrost and warm back up without them browning any more.

I recommend making a small batch first as then you can see for yourself the consistency that the mixture needs to be before making masses.

  • 125 mls water
  • 40 gms butter, cubed
  • 70 gms plain flour
  • 1 teaspn mustard powder
  • 90 gms grated cheese*
  • 2 large eggs, beaten but kept separate
  • S&P
* Any hard cheese will go, but I mostly use Comté, Gran Padano or Gruyère.

  1. Heat the oven to 220℃. Put a layer of baking paper over a baking sheet and spray lightly with veggie oil
  2. Season the flour in a bowl and sprinkle over the mustard powder and move to the side of your hob
  3. Bring the water and the butter to the boil quickly
  4. As soon as it's boiled, dump in the flour mix and beat over a low heat
  5. It needs to stay on the heat being beaten until it's come away from the sides of the pan and is one big, smooth ball.  This may be quite quick OR take a bit of time depending on how much water has evaporated
  6. Take off the heat and leave to stand for a couple of minutes to allow to cool
  7. [At this point, I put the dough in a stand mixer]
  8. Once cool enough so the eggs won't scramble, whisk in one egg until incorporated and then repeat
  9. Add in the cheese.  You can also add in some finely chopped fresh herbs with the cheese if you like
  10. Put the thick batter into disposable piping bags / freezer bags^
  11. If you find your mixture's quite runny at this stage, put the bag in the fridge to firm up a bit as the mixture needs to be a bit stiff to be piped
  12. Snip off the end/a corner of the bag and pipe cherry-tomato-sized blobs about 1"/2.5 cm apart onto the greased, papered tray until it's full
  13. If you still have left, put (back) into the fridge until the first batch is nearly cooked
  14. Put some cold water in a small bowl, dip your finger into the water and (gently) flatten the dough hook left by the piping so it's a smooth ball.
  15. At this stage you can sprinkle on a bit more cheese, but I usually don't bother
  16. Put in the oven for 10 mins @ 220℃ during which stage they'll puff up 
  17. Then turn down the oven to 190℃ for 12-15 mins to crispen up (so they don't go flat when you take them out) and brown 
  18. Remove and leave for a couple of minutes before taking off the baking paper. Repeat the steps from no. 12 with any remaining mix.
  19. Serve warm from the oven or leave to cool, guarding with a wooden spoon for sneaking hands, and bag up for the freezer
^ if you don't have either, teaspooning the mix onto the tray is also okay although the end result isn't as neat.

See!  It wasn't that difficult!!

If it was, the mistakes will be:

Dough mix too runny: not boiling off enough water or using very large eggs
Dough mix too thick: boiling off too much water or using medium eggs

Either can be solved mid-recipe by either putting the dough in the fridge for the butter to re-harden OR adding a little (whole) milk.

Soon you'll be baking up my kinda batches!

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