Yields 26 cream puffs.
- Prep time: 1h
- Cook time: 40min
- Total time: 1h 40min
- Difficulty: Intermediate
This is a foolproof recipe that yields perfectly light and crispy pastry every time. The only trick is to precisely measure out the ingredients. Cream puffs are best eaten the same day they are made. They can be refrigerated for up to three days, but the pastry will soften and lose its crispiness. To serve, either dust the cream puffs with powdered sugar or drizzle with chocolate glaze.
For the Pâte à Choux.
- 250ml water
- 125ml neutral oil
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- pinch of salt
- 150g flour
- 250ml eggs (about 4 large eggs), beaten
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Two baking sheets should be lined with parchment paper. Combine water, oil, salt, and sugar in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour. If you don’t stir quickly enough, the flour lumps will cook. Allow for a few minutes for the mixture to cool. Slowly add the eggs in three batches, mixing thoroughly between each batch with a wooden spoon or a hand mixer until the eggs are well incorporated and the batter is thick and shiny.
Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a large round tip with the batter and pipe even circles, about 4.5cm in diameter, onto the prepared baking sheet. Pipe the batter in a spiral motion with some height. Allow plenty of space between each circle because the batter will puff up and rise significantly in the oven. To prevent burning, press the tip of each pastry round with a damp finger.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the pastry is richly golden and evenly colored on the sides and top, and when tapped, it is firm. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely before continuing.
For the vanilla pastry cream.
- 1 liter milk
- 250g sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
- 1 egg
- 5 egg yolks
- 160g cornstarch
- 150g butter, softened
Whisk together the egg, egg yolks, and 100ml milk in a large mixing bowl. Make sure there are no lumps when adding the cornstarch.
In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining milk (900ml), sugar, and vanilla seeds. Heat the milk until it reaches the boiling point. Allow to cool until it is cool enough to touch but still warm.
Pour the warm milk slowly over the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spoon to prevent the bottom from scorching. It will thicken quickly to the consistency of pudding. When the cream has thickened, strain it through a strainer into a clean bowl to remove any lumps. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the pastry cream and place it in an ice bath to cool.
In the meantime, cream the butter with a hand mixer. Whisk the butter into the vanilla pastry cream with an electric mixer until the filling is smooth and shiny. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
To assemble and serve.
- 300ml heavy whipping cream
- some powdered sugar (optional)
- chocolate sauce (optional)
To assemble the cream puffs, use a serrated knife to cut each pastry round in half horizontally. The inside of the pastry should be hollow. Fill a large star tip piping bag halfway with pastry cream. Fill the hole in the bottom of the pastry round with cream and pipe enough pastry cream to come about 1.5cm above the pastry itself. Rep with the remaining pastry and cream.
Whip the heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks. Fill a piping bag with the pastry cream and pipe it on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve, then top with the other half of the pastry. Dust the cream puffs with powdered sugar or drizzle with chocolate glaze before serving.
Also known as Princes Krafne.
Cream puffs were a staple in most households’ baking repertoires during the 1980s because they were so popular. Sadly, some were more successful than others. Rubbery and spongy pastry, or even dense dough lumps resembling hokey pucks filled with either runny, lumpy, sticky, or overly sweet fillings that frequently had an unappealing floury aftertaste… I’ve tried every one of them. But, to be honest, those cream puffs were still delicious and made me happy.
Later, I discovered that a good pâte à choux recipe is crucial to the success of the humble cream puff. About a year ago, I discovered what appeared to be the perfect cream puff recipe, the result of extensive research and numerous baking experiments until satisfying and consistent results were obtained. Maja adapted the recipe from a Serbian blog, and I guarantee it’s foolproof.
The right proportion of fat, water, flour, and eggs is the key to making the perfect pâte à choux pastry.Maja recommends using neutral oil, such as vegetable or sunflower oil, instead of butter, which contains 20% water and may affect the consistency of the pastry and possibly ruin your cream puffs. I tried Maja’s recipe several times and each time the pastry was airy, light, puffy, and crispy. I purposefully piped my puffs a little smaller because I’m not a big fan of over-sized portions.
However, I have made some minor changes to the pastry cream. The first time I made it, the filling was a little runny, so I increased the amount of cornstarch and butter in the recipe. In addition, instead of vanilla flavored sugar, I used a real Madagascar vanilla bean. It makes a huge difference in flavor.