I was twelve years old and skipping church with a feigned illness the first time I made pâte à choux, the dough responsible for gougères and cream puffs. On their return, I greeted my parents with billowy pastries filled with whipped cream and dusted with powdered sugar. After a half-hearted reprimand that if I didn’t feel well enough to go to church then I shouldn’t be baking, they took a single bite and all was forgiven.
Despite the fussy looking letter flourishes, pâte à choux couldn’t be simpler. Well actually it could be, but we’ll get to that.
Stephanie Le, is a constant inspiration. Once she posted this, I couldn’t get gougères out of my mind. So I gave in and made them. Instead of cheddar I went with Gruyère, but adopted and loved the kick of black pepper.
I read through several gougère recipes before making these and found them all more complicated than what I’d done on the day of my religious truancy and a dozen times since. Some call for the use of a stand mixer, most call for eggs added one at a time. I went with what I knew and was not disappointed – no mixer required and eggs added all at once. I admit that you’ll have a moment of panic when the dough looks lumpy at first and mild shoulder discomfort as you stir like mad, but in the end, your dough will be silky smooth and your gougères airy and delicious.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour 125 grams
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 eggs cracked into a small bowl
- 4 ounces Gruyère cheese grated
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and pepper.
In a medium saucepan, heat milk, water and butter to a rolling boil. Whisk in flour mixture all at once; reduce heat to low. Whisk vigorously over low heat for 1 minute or until mixture forms a ball; remove from heat. Add eggs, all at once and whisk vigorously until smooth. Add grated Gruyère and whisk until smooth.
Scoop out rounded 1/4 cup portions (I use a medium cookie scoop) onto prepared baking sheet, leaving a couple of inches of space around each.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes until puffed, golden brown and crisp at the edges.