Perfect Cream Puffs
Recipe Type: Quick Bread, Desserts
Yields: 2 dozen large cream puffs
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 30 minutes
1 cup water
3 1/2 ounces of unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup bread flour*
3 large eggs, beaten
2 egg whites (reserve yolks for pudding mixture)**
Fillings (see below for ideas)
* Bread flour is a high-protein flour. The high protein gives you more gluten and structure and helps the cream puffs rise. All-purpose flour may be substituted but the results won't be as spectacular.
** The egg whites help the cream puffs to be more dry.
Preheat oven to 420 degrees F. Either line a baking sheet with parchment paper or with the non-stick baking mat. NOTE: Do not grease baking sheet, as the grease will cause the dough to flatten. Cut up butter into small pieces. Cut up butter into small pieces.
In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the water and butter; bring mixture to a full rolling boil (make sure the butter has all melted).
Remove pan from the heat and add flour all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until blended. NOTE: The flour absorbs the liquid rapidly, and must be mixed thoroughly until there are no lumps left. Reduce heat to medium; return pan to heat and continue stirring until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Remove from heat and transfer the dough to the bowl of a mixer. With the paddle attachment, mix at low speed until the dough has cooled slightly. It should be about 140 degrees F. (use your digital thermometer to test the dough).
In a small bowl, add eggs and egg whites; Whisk until mixed together. At medium speed, beat the eggs/egg whites in a little at a time. Add no more than a quarter of the eggs at once; wait until eggs are completely absorbed before adding more (at first the eggs will act like they don't want to mix in, but they will). When all the eggs are absorbed, the dough is ready to use. The dough should be soft and a little sticky, but be able to hold its shape.
- Using two teaspoons: With one spoon, scoop up about 2 tablespoons batter for a large puff, 1 tablespoons for a medium-size puff, or 1 1/2 teaspoons for a cocktail-size puff. With other spoon, push batter off first spoon and drop in a mound onto prepared baking sheet. Place mounds about 2 inches apart.
- Using plastic bag: Place dough into bag. Cut the end off one corner with scissors, to make an opening about 1/4 inch. Squeeze the mixture onto the pans.
- Using pastry bag: Put a 1/4-inch star tip into your pastry bag. Fill the bag with the dough. Squeeze the dough out in a circle motion to create small silver dollar-sized circles.
Bake time varies depending on how big your blobs are. For 2-inch puffs, bake for a total of about 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through (switch pans so the top one is on the bottom rack and vice versa). At 1 minutes into the baking, lower heat to 375 degrees F. and continue baking until golden brown. Approximately 5 to 10 minutes longer for the small puffs, and 15 to 20 minutes longer for large puffs.
Remove from the oven and immediately prick the lower side of each puff with the tips of a sharp know. Turn off oven and return puffs to the oven. Leave the door open slightly and allow the puffs to dry out for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and oven and let puffs cool completely on the baking sheet on a wire rack before filling.
For best results, use puffs with 24 hours, or wrap airtight and freeze.
- Unfilled puffs may be stored in an airtight container for several days, but first cut them open and remove the strands of dough to prevent sogginess.
- To freeze unfilled cream puffs, wrap tightly in plastic wrap or resealable plastic bags. Do not cut cream puffs open or remove the strands of dough before freezing. Thaw at room temperature.
Add the filling (of your choice) just prior to serving, otherwise the puffs will become soggy. Cream puffs may be filled with your favorite pudding, whipped cream, ice cream, or fruit.
When ready to fill, with a serrated knife, cut upper third from each puff and gently scoop out any moist interior. Fill with pastry cream or ice cream; recap with the top, dust with a little powdered sugar and drizzle with chocolate sauce if desired. Keep in a cool place until serving time, but not in the refrigerator.
Makes about 2 dozen large cream puffs, 3 dozen medium-sized puffs, to 5 to 6 dozen cocktail-size puffs.