Perfecting Choux Pastry: The Liquid Variable (part 2)

Choux loveliness

Another three batches of choux baked and ready to evaluate. You might wonder where they all go. Well, a great many are eaten while my husband is ‘forced’ to taste them and ask endless questions. Then rest became tonight’s pudding (above), filled with creme leger (creme patissiere and whipped cream folded togther). It was heaven.

I made the three recipes – 1. Cake-Milk/Water, 2. Plain-Milk/Water and 3. Plain/Water – and used this as another chance to test baking temperature (180C v 200C) and spritzing. Here they all are before baking and after. Top tray is 200C. Top row is the spritzed row.

Like last time, spritzing didn’t make a noticeable difference, but baking temperature did. The 200C again blew up rapidly but looked much messier. They are also more golden brown, and hence looked quite a bit more tasty.

Here’s the 200C batch:

As you can see, the spritzing really didn’t make a noticeable difference. I think I might not bother in the future, but I might try some other things. The Cake ones are much more golden, and they did open up pretty well. The Plain-milk/water mix opened up the most, and was the least ‘membraned’. The Plain-water ones did open up pretty well, but did tend to be more membraney (let’s just say that’s a word). And now let’s look at the 180C batch before talking about the taste and texture:

Similar results in term of openess and membrane, but all are less open. I think this is the trade-off – more even surface, but less open inside. Given how streusel helps with this, you could offset it that way. But to get them really open at lower temperatures I think is quite difficult. I’ll keep thinking about it.

Overall conclusions on how they baked, they all expanded well enough. None were a terrible flop, but the Plain flour ones of both kinds opened up the most, and Plain-milk/water the most of all. So if that’s the case, why would anyone ever use Cake flour? Well, when it can to taste and texture, like last time… they taste nicer… and the texture is nicer, more tender but also still crisp. As for milk/water versus water, again the milk added a bit of flavour that was nice, but most importantly they were crisp rather than chewy. The Plain-water ones were quite bland, and almost bready in flavour, and definitely chewier.

Conclusions

Milk adds flavour and improves the texture. Combined with cake flour, you’ll get the most tender choux, but if you’re baking at lower temperatures, it seems more difficult to get a really hollow pastry with that combination. If you’re baking at 200C, I think Cake-milk/water will produce the best balance between hollowness, flavour and texture, but it might look a bit scruffier. The Plain-milk/water is a good compromise on all fronts. If I wanted to make an industrial-sized croquembouche, I’d go for the Plain-water… but I’d put a lot of lovely filling in to counteract the drawbacks.