Puffs: Choux Pastry

There are several ‘French’ recipes in the 1931 Joy and they all seem to be rather loosely based on their French counterparts. But the secrets of French cooking were not well know at that time (as evidenced by Julia Child’s cook books bringing French cooking to the States over 20 years later), so it’s not entirely fair to criticize.

That said, these puffs are definitely not for purists. They are not proper choux pastry puffs: hollow on the inside and carefully smoothed on the outside. Instead, they are light, fluffy, moreish little puffs of egginess that are well worth making and eating. (My toddler and I can polish off a batch of them over the course of a morning.) What these puffs lack in polish and flair they make up for with ease and tastiness. And that’s a welcome deal in my book.

The puffs are quick to make. You only need one pan and the prep time is about 10 minutes total. Once you’ve made the dough you can roll the puff in just about anything you’d like. I’ve gone for some sweet ones with cinnamon & sugar and some savory ones with fennel seeds and pepper.

Puffs: Choux Pastry slightly adapted from the 1931 Joy of Cooking. Makes approx. 12 puffs.

2oz. butter (salted)
1/2 C milk
1/2 C all purpose flour
2 eggs

1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp fennel
1/2 tsp black pepper

In a small bowl mix your toppings together and set aside.

Put the milk and butter in a small sauce pan over a medium heat and bring to the boil.

Add the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. The dough will come together quickly and be very sticky, like a roux. Take off the heat and let cool slightly. Then whisk in the eggs.

Scoop tablespoon sized balls of dough out of the pan and roll in the toppings. The dough will stick to you a bit but do the best you can. (I tried sprinkling the toppings on but it didn’t work as well as the rolling method.)

Put the balls onto a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes at 190C/375F. They will be golden and puffy when done. To test that they are cooked through, take one out of the oven. If it deflates before your eyes, then they are not done. (Go ahead and pop the deflated one back in the oven. It will puff up again a bit.) Cool on a wire rack briefly. I like to eat them warm.


4 thoughts on “Puffs: Choux Pastry

  1. I made these this morning. I have made them before but always to stuff with chicken or shrimp salad, not to eat alone. I made 12 puffs, 3 plain which I ate right away with some raspberry jam – very tasty and 3 with cinnamon and sugar – I ate those in the afternoon with tea. I didn’t have any fennel so I used coarse salt and sesame seeds on the next 3 and then I stirred a handful of shredded parmesan cheese in the last 3. Both of those came out really well. Had one set with my soup for lunch and the other with dinner. They were all very good and I enjoyed all 4 varieties. Thanks for the post – I would never have thought to make them and they are really quick and easy to make and I usually have all the ingredients on hand.

  2. Love the look of these. I instantly thought of Parmesan cheese! So good to know it worked well for Diane. Will give them a try myself soon. They’d be perfect to offer round at my book club.

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