Choux Pastry Fail

Until recently, I’d found choux pastry pretty straight forward. Boil the milk and water with butter, dump in flour, beat for a while, add eggs and it almost always worked. In fact, I had my first choux success at about age 10, made in the face of deep skepticism from my mother, who was convinced I’d never pull it off. She very kindly ate her words when she saw the results. So I’ve never worried about choux since that day, and it’s never worried about me. We got on fine…. then I started messing about with cake flour and beating it for longer in case it made it better and… produced some massive choux failures. Here is the Gallery of Fail.

Here’s the first fail. This happened when I tried to make Sadaharu Aoki’s recipe and follow his tutorial. He used cake flour, and I had read a warning about this, but I’d used it successfully before when I’ve followed La Duree’s recipe. And yet, big fail:

Choux fail 1: flat

More failure came when I made Chef Eddy’s great recipe, which combines bread and cake flour. Not very hollow…

Choux fail 2: not hollow

Here’s another pic of the Chef Eddy recipe failure (my failure, not his recipe). It collapsed. Misery.

Choux fail 2: not hollow

Another attempt at Aoki’s recipe resulted in another fail. Collapsed, but it did taste nice all the same.

Choux fail 3: so much fail

 Was I daunted? Did I give up? No, I went on to fail even more:

Choux fail 4: Chef Eddy recipe

Sure, it looks sort of ok on top. A bit flat, but ok.Don’t be deceived. Turn it over and…. fail:

Choux fail 4: collapsed inside

But here’s the truly grim one. It was an earlier fail, but I’ve saved the best for last. It’s the Chef Eddy recipe again, but this time horrendous fail. I’ve never seen anything like this (translation: I’ve never seen anyone fail at choux so spectacularly).

It’s brown not because of how it was cooked. It came out entirely pale and uninteresting. It’s brown because I threw it in the compost bin in disgust and it got mixed in with the coffee grounds. I fished it out to record it for posterity and a note to myself not to be so complacent with the choux. I feel sad just looking at it.

Choux fail 5: I don’t even want to talk about what happened because I have no idea and I feel sad

This is meant to be a baking blog where I talk about how to make things, so why am I putting my failures on display? Partly to show that everyone messes up, particularly when they try something new or get a bit sloppy. But also to kick off my next project: understanding and perfecting Choux Pastry. Let the sciencing begin.

There are oodles of tutorials about choux on the Interwebs, so why another one? I guess because there are so many it’s a bit overwhelming to know which one’s the best, and also they all have different things to offer. So I’ll research them for you, link to lots of recipes and videos, compare techniques and recipes, explain the implications of each variation and choice you might make so that you have the knowledge to be in control of what you’re making. Um, and yes, because I clearly need that too after these embarrassing screw ups. Here we go!

Just for the record, I really can make choux. Honestly.