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Cream Puff or The Eclair

Jaxon Stallard

THE CREAM PUFF and THE ECLAIR Choux paste  Pate a Choux
 Pate a Choux literally means cabbage paste and refers to the similarity in shape between cream puffs and small cabbages. It is a cousin to popover batter. In that both baked products are leavened by steam, which expands them quickly and leaves large holes in their middles. To make the Choux paste you'll need:
½ cup water
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
7 oz unsalted butter
5 whole eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon` sugar
1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon cool water, (for egg wash)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
1. Combine water, butter and salt in a medium saucepan, heat till the butter has melted, and bring the mixture to a full boil. (Butter should be melted at this point.) While stirring, add flour all at once. Continue to cook and beat vigorously with a large wooden spoon until mixture leaves sides of pan and forms a cohesive ball around your spoon.
2. Remove the pan from the heat and scrape the paste into a medium bowl or Kitchen Aid bowl. Add eggs, one a time; beating until each egg is incorporated. Beat on low if using a mixer. Beat until mixture is glossy and smooth. While dough is still warm follow directions below to form pastries.
PIPING the PASTRIES: To make the eclairs, you must use the pate a choux while it is warm. Spoon the choux paste into a pastry bag fitted with a ½" plain tip and pipe out puffs on one baking sheet, making each puff about 2" across; finish piping each one with a quick twist, as if you were writing the letter C so that a tail or point is NOT formed. Pipe the second pan with eclairs, piping thin logs of dough about 5" long. Brush each of the pastries with a little egg wash and run the back of the times of a fork along the length of each eclair. (This will not only be decorative, it will help the eclairs to puff evenly during baking).
SCOOPING the PASTRIES: To make the cream puffs take a small ice cream scoop and scoop the dough onto a parchment lined backing sheet.  To smooth the tops before baking take the egg wash and brush lightly making sure you don't brush any of the egg mixture onto the parchment, this will prevent the puffs from puffing properly.
BAKING THE PASTRIES: Brush the eclairs and puffs with egg wash again and place in over and turn up heat to 415 degrees.  Bake at 415 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes; lower the temp to 300 degrees and bake for 10 - 15 longer, or until the pastries are golden brown and feel hollow. Pastries should be cool before filling.
Pointers for Puffs:
*The liquid must be heated to a full boil, meaning there are bubbles all over the pot, not just skirting the edges
*Add the flour all at once and stir madly until every last speck of flour is incorporated, then keep cooking and stirring some more - it’s this last bit of cooking that will take the raw taste of the flour; you’ll know you’re ready to quit when the dough forms a ball around your wooden spoon and the bottom of the pan is covered with a light film.
*Don’t hesitate-add the eggs to the dough soon after it comes off the stove and is still very hot.
*Beat the eggs in thoroughly with a wooden spoon, spatula, or the paddle attachment of a mixer; don’t use a whisk it will beat in unwanted air. *Stop mixing when you still have one egg left to add and inspect the dough. Depending on the condition of the flour, the room, or the moods of the pastry Gods, the dough may or may not need the last egg. The dough is finished when you lift the paddle or spoon and it pulls up some dough that then detaches and forms a slowly bending peak-if you don’t get a peak, add another egg. And relax-even if you cannot decide what to do, and use the maximum number of eggs, you will still end up with a superior puff.
*Use the choux paste while it is still warm. Choux past cannot be kept.
*Unfilled baked pastries can be well wrapped and frozen for a few weeks.

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