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According to the dictionary, a friend is defined as: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of affection- probably attained from making cream puffs with homemade whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
Ok maybe that’s not the exact definition but it’s how I would write the definition if I was allowed to.
Perhaps an even better friend, not only makes you cream puffs but shows you step by step on how to make them (secretly hoping the next time I visit you make them for me). I mean, what are friends for? You know teach a man to fish or something like that…
The first time I had a cream puff I was on my grandmother’s porch. It was a pretty hot sticky summer day. And my family decided the way to finish up dinner was with a plate of cream puffs. I should probably explain that my dad’s side of the family, with whom we were with that evening, grew up in New York City and there times growing up where they introduced us upstaters with downstate pastry delicacies like a cream puff. You know to sophisticate our Betty Crocker cake mix palette and trust me, I was not complaining. I remember not knowing what to make of these buttery rich pastries filled with pastry cream and topped with silky chocolate ganache. But I knew I was in love.
My world had been changed. Behold my first cream puff.
Now friend, if you have never had a cream puff I hope this post inspires you to make your own so your world can be changed. And if you have had a cream puff, then you know the wonderfulness that is the puff or french fancy fancy pants word, profiterole- but I am hoping that I can show you just how stupidly stinking easy they are to make.
Actually you might realize just how easy they are to make and how crazy delicious they are and be mad at me for introducing these not so calorie friendly desserts into your world. But I’m telling you these desserts are the desserts you pull out of your arsenal to impress friends, co-workers, mother-in-laws with.
TO MAKE THE BEST CREAM PUFFS YOU WILL NEED
- Medium-sized saucepan- This batter gets made all in a saucepan over the stovetop so it’s best to have a decent saucepan to make these in. My favorite is Cuisinart– it’s quality and less than $20 which you just can’t beat.
- You will need a piping bag for this fit with a plain circle tip (I used Ateco Plain Size #808) batter or an ice-cream scoop – Either will work just fine! For this tutorial I used my Ateco plastic piping bags because I can quick throw them away!
- Silicone Baking Mat (or parchment paper)
- Pastry Brush- You need this to brush each puff with an egg wash and smooth the tops down. I love my silicon brush for ease of cleaning!
- Cookie sheet- My favorite is this Chicago Metallic aluminum cookie sheet!
Cut your butter into tablespoons or small chunks and add to a saucepan with 1 cup of water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar and bring to a simmer over high heat. Bonus: No need to stir during this!
Turn down the heat to a medium and add your flour all at once!
With a wooden spoon, stir for 3 minutes or until it forms a cohesive mass that pulls away from the sides of the pan. The flour should leave this film on the sides of the pan.
Remove from the heat and either in a stand mixer or with that trusty wooden spoon you want to stir this for about a minute (mine took a couple extra) until it’s slightly cooled (about 121ºF).
Beat in your eggs 1 at a time until you have added 4. Keep in mind, 4 is the recommended number but keep an eye on the consistency as the number of eggs depends on the type of flour used. For me, it was exactly 4 eggs.
Check The Consistency Of The Batter
To determine if the consistency of the batter is correct and you have added enough eggs, look for one of these three things.
Look For: You have added enough eggs when you drag a spoon through the mixture and the groove left behind slowly folds in on itself as shown in the second picture.
#2: Pull the wooden spoon up out of the dough. The dough should droop off the spoon and not stick straight out.
#3: If using a stand mixer, the dough should pull away from the paddle attachment in a thick rope. I don’t have a picture for this because I made mine with the wooden spoon, so if you are unsure after testing it this way then test with #1 by dragging the spoon through the mixture.
Transfer the cooled mixture to a piping fit with a plain circle tip (I used Ateco Plain Size #808) or use an 2-inch icecream scoop
On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat, pipe out your cream puffs. Aim for about 1 1/2 inches high and 3 1/2 inches wide. The first batch I made were on the small-ish side but still baked up beautifully as the recipe suggested. The second batch I baked up a bit larger and they still baked in the same amount of time. Just be sure they are all the same size for each batch that you bake so they bake evenly.
When piping, hold the piping bag about 3/4-inch above the cookie sheet and start piping. As the round takes shape lift the bag up to about 1 1/2-inch above the cookie sheet to allow the round to widen. You will fit about 6 on one cookie sheet.
Brush the tops of each puff with an egg wash, gently smoothing the surface with the pastry brush at the same time.
Time to bake them! These will bake in a two-step process meaning you will bake them at 20 minutes at 400F pre-heated oven, then reduce the temperature and bake for an additional 20 minutes at 300F. Then allow them to cool on a cake rack.
Now time to fill, eat and enjoy!
I filled mine with a simple whipped cream and fresh strawberries. But you could also fill them with a easy pastry cream and top with chocolate ganache. I included those recipes as well in case you want to go that route.
If you decide to go with whipped cream, I topped mine with a little bit of powdered sugar as well.
Now, doesn’t that make you want one…friend 🙂
If you liked this step by step photo tutorial on how to make cream puffs, let me know and leave me a comment! And be sure to subscribe to never miss a new recipe or baking tutorial and I will send you my 10 baking secrets to save time in the kitchen.
Until next time, happy baking!
For the cream puff dough
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter sliced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup flour sifted
- 4 eggs
- 1 egg white plus more as needed
Whipped Cream and Strawberries
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 3 Tablespoons Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- sliced strawberries optional
- powdered sugar optional
- 1. Combine the water, salt, butter, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. There's no need to stir.
- 2. Turn the heat down to medium and add the flour all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture forms a cohesive mass and pulls away from the sides of the pans, leaving a film of flour on the sides of pan.
- 3. Transfer the mixture to a bowl or a stand mixer and beat it with a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment for about 1 minute or until slightly cooled.
- 4. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until you've added 4. Check the consistency of the batter by pulling a wooden spoon through it. When the groove it makes slowly in on itself, you've added enough eggs. Another way to check is to see if the batter droops from the spoon when it is held sideways. If so it is ready. Add more egg whites as needed until the batter passes away the groove test. While the dough is best used right away, it will keep for several hours in the refrigerator.
- 5. Preheat the oven to 400F. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip and fill it with the dough. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. If using paper, pipe a small amount of dough underneath the paper in the four corners to hold it down.
- 6. Make 2 rows of 3 each cream puffs each. Start by holding the pastry bag about 3/4-inch above the sheet pan and squeezing. If the pastry bag tip is too close, the cream puffs won't be thick enough; if it's too far away, they won't be wide enough. As the round of pastry takes shape, lift the pastry bag until it is about 1 1/2 inches above the sheet pan. The mounds of dough should be about 3 1/2 inches in diameter and about 1 1/2 inches high in the center. Brush with an egg wash, lightly smoothing the surface with the brush at the same time. Bake the cream puffs for about 20 minutes or until puffed and golden. Turn down the oven to 300F and continue baking for 20 minutes more. Let cool for at least 20 minutes on a cake rack.
- 7. Prepare the whipped cream by placing the heavy cream into a bowl of a stand mixer. Combine with the sugar and vanilla extract and whip to soft peaks. Use a serrated knife, cut each cream puff open horizontally. Pipe the whipped cream or scoop with an icecream scoop the whipped cream into the middle and top with sliced strawberries. Top with additional powdered sugar if you choose and I think you should!
Adapted from Baking By James Petersen
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