Let’s give the floor to the pastry chef: “Hello, everyone! Today I will share my experience with you. There may be a million variations, as well as recipes, but this choux pastry comes out smooth and has a perfect shape. Let's talk about it!
I'll start with the end. The dough should be deposited in the form of cones of even size with a simple round nozzle, so that they slightly touch each other. Once again: even, identical, slightly. Every word matters!
Take a ring with a diameter of about 15-16 cm (5.9 to 6.3 inch), and dip the edge in the flour; make a mark with it on a baking mat. Next, take a small ring with a diameter of about 3.5 cm (1.4 inch), and similarly mark the future cones of the choux pastry so that they are slightly in contact with each other. Place the dough, and put a ring of croquelin dough on top.
In this case, the ring should be slightly larger in diameter (both outer and inner diameter) than the choux pastry piece. Notice that there are not many small croquelin circles; just one ring that lightly presses the choux pastry. That’s it!”
Let’s move to the cooking process.
For the croquelin dough:
- 35 g flour | 1.25 oz
- 5 g cocoa powder | 0.20 oz
- 10 g hazelnut flour | 0.35 oz
- 50 g sugar | 1.75 oz
- 40 g cold butter | 1.40 oz
Mix all the ingredients in a mixer using the paddle attachment; roll it out between two sheets of parchment 2 mm (0.05 inch) thick. Freeze, and cut a ring out.
For the choux pastry:
To start with, if you have trouble with the choux pastry, then the croquelin-coated baking method is where you should start. Croquelin helps to avoid cracking, and helps the dough rise evenly. But you still have to follow some rules. Attention! The amount of ingredients is for more than one Paris-Brest cake, but we don’t recommend reducing the amount. It will be inconvenient to work with.
- Flour 150 g | 5.30 oz
- Water 250 g | 8.80 oz
- Salt 1 g | 0.05 oz
- Sugar 3 g | 0.10 oz
- Butter 82.5% 100 g | 3.55 oz
- Eggs 240 g | 8.45 oz
All the ingredients should be at room temperature.
Combine the water, salt, sugar and butter in a saucepan with a thick bottom; bring the mix to a boil, and add all the flour at once.
Stir vigorously with a hard spatula, and brew the dough until a velvety crust forms at the bottom of the stewpan (don’t scrape off the crust). Transfer the dough into a mixer bowl, and stir the dough; cool it to 65-70C (149 to 158F).
Pre-whip the eggs with a blender. Pour the eggs into the dough one at a time, and stir each time until completely combined (at the minimum mixer speed, as you don’t need any bubbles in the dough).
Don’t forget to scrape the dough off the sides of the bowl. Don’t rush to add all the eggs at once; you may need a smaller amount. After all the eggs are mixed in, check the consistency of the dough. It should flow lazily into an even triangle.
If the dough is too thick, then gently add some eggs or hot milk. Don’t hurry, as the dough needs time for the gluten contained in the wheat flour to develop sufficiently. The dough should be nicely shiny and glossy; the temperature of the dough should be about 30C (86F).
Place the dough cones, and cover them with the frozen croquelin. Bake it in the preheated oven. The oven should be preheated to 200C (392F). Bake the first 10 minutes at 200C (392F); then lower the temperature to 180C (356F), and bake until golden brown.
If the dough rose and fell, then the temperature was too low.
If the choux pastry didn't rise at all, then the temperature is too low, there is too much moisture in the dough
If cracks appear on the surface, then the baking temperature was too high, or the dough was too thick, or the gluten hasn’t sufficiently worked in the dough.
These are far from the only problems and their causes, but the main and the most common ones. That's all.
Add the crème to your taste: cream cheese with berry filling, or cream cheese with hazelnut praline and caramel, etc.