It’s been some time since I’ve done a homemade food post…and that makes me sad.
Alright, this isn’t totally true. I literally just posted about my experience making pasta for the first time.
But this is different.
Today I’m going to tell you how ridiculously simple cream puffs are to make.
Not bad for a second attempt at cream puffs.
The foundation of a cream puff is pâte à choux which is a pastry dough that by name alone sounds quite intimidating.
But, this pastry dough is #basic.
That’s right. I defined it with a hashtag.
It’s that simple.
Pâte à choux consists of four pantry/refrigerator staples, so I’m almost certain you could make it this very minute if you wanted.
That’s right, FOUR ingredients.
AP flour, butter, eggs, salt…and water
I actually can’t think of a simpler dough* that comes together for a faster final result than pâte à choux.
*My homemade bread base is the only dough that can compete for simplicity, however, it takes hours to rise.
My Gram always reminisces of how my Pop used to make cream puffs. He took his recipe with him, as Gram said to me the other day, so I used King Arthur’s Cream Puff recipe in hopes of surprising Gram with them for her birthday celebration.
Watch the simplicity of this dough:
- Bring butter, salt, and water to a boil.
- 2. Mix in the flour, then stir over a medium flame for one minute.
- 3. Let it cool several minutes.
- 4. Mix in the eggs.
- 5. Scoop onto prepared baking sheets. Bake.
An ice cream scoop makes the process of shaping these little puffs incredibly easy.
I left out pictures of the filling process, so here’s a messy picture of it all to keep things in perspective:
The recipe says to halve the puffs and fill them with cream. But anyone knows that a true cream puff is filled, not cut in half.
If you want to fill your puffs, here’s what I did:
Once the puffs cooled, I poked a hole into them with a pastry tip. Being as delicate as possible*, I wiggled my finger in and tried to grab any excess filling still hanging around unpuffed.
*And yes, for me, that is difficult.
On my first few batches, I filled my puffs with a simple whipped cream filling*, however, Gram noted that Pop filled his with a custard. I decided custard to Gram must mean pastry cream, which is what eclairs are typically filled with, so for my next batch I made pastry cream. This was perhaps the most difficult part of cream puffs, and you can find the recipe within the KA cream puff recipe.
*Simple Whipped cream: 1 cup heavy cream + 2 T sugar + 1 tsp vanilla whipped until soft peaks form. If you purchase whipped cream stabilizer it will help to keep the cream fluffy and beautiful so these beauties can be made well in advance of your serving time*.
*Mine lasted about two days. They possibly could have lasted longer, but were gobbled up too soon to know.
If you’re looking for a way to cheat, but still want a thicker filling than whipped cream, try this: Stir together (1) 14 oz sweetened condensed milk, (1) 3.9 oz pack of vanilla pudding mix and 1/2 cup of water. Fold in 8 oz of whipped cream (fresh or store bought). Everyone will think you did all the work of real pastry cream and only you will know the secret.
When I brought Gram a sampling of my newest cream puff, filled with pastry cream, she said it was even better than Pop’s. My puff is still a little puffier than his, but we all need something to continue to aspire towards, right?