The irresistible French cheese puffs called gougeres (goo-zhare). They are great with a glass of wine. I make mine with lots of Parmesan cheese and finely chopped chives. If the French name is too difficult, call them what I do – golden Parmesan puffs. Easy to make, but impressive.
Making Choux (Shoo) Pastry or Pate a Choux
Do you remember the first time you bravely attempted a new technique or a new recipe? I still remember making gougere (goo-zhare) for the first time. It was strange how the pastry dough came together, but it worked beautifully in the end. A triumph.
The formal name for this pastry dough is choux (shoo) pastry or pate a choux (pot-ah-shoo). Bring milk and butter to a boil, dump in flour, and stir like mad until the dough pulls away from the side of the pan. Add eggs, one at a time and again, stir like mad until they are well incorporated and the dough smooths out.
The pastry will look odd while you stir. At first it looks curdled and slippery from the eggs and you wonder if it will come together. Suddenly it does, and forms a smooth pastry dough.
Add cheese and chives, then stir some more. You’ll have a thick, savory dough to portion out and bake.
I’ve piped them and dropped dollops with spoons in the past. Now I use what’s called a disher.
Dishers – A Handy Little Tool
A disher is a tool I can’t live without in my kitchen. I have 5-6 sizes of them in various sizes for various tasks. They make portion control and handling ingredients easy. For small puffs I use a #40 disher that is 1 ½” across. For truly bite-sized puffs, use the #60.
For flour, I’ve tested three types: organic white whole wheat, organic whole wheat pastry, and a gluten-free blend called Cup4Cup. All three came out great. The difference between white whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour is the type of wheat; a hard wheat versus a soft wheat. Pastry flour is a soft wheat which contains less gluten and provides a more tender baked good.
For Gluten-Free Bakers
For gluten-free gougere I tested with a pre-made blend, Cup4Cup (C4C) gluten-free flour. The dough looks little different as it forms but the process is the same. The gougere came out great.
After three test batches, here are the changes from the standard recipe. Substitute 1/2 cup (72 grams) of the C4C for the regular flour and turn oven down to 350 degrees (177 C). Bake until just golden. Time will depend on your ovens as they can vary. Note that Bob’s Red Mill also makes a great gluten-free flour blend, available everywhere these days.
The gluten-free batch did not puff as did the wheat gougere, but they tasted terrific and will be appreciated by anyone following a gluten-free diet.
My last and best batch took about 20-25 minutes. They were golden on the outside and done but a tiny bit moist on the inside. My friend and gluten-free baking expert, Dr. Jean Layton, told me that g-free flours based on cornstarch (as is C4C) may result in baked goods that dry out a little more quickly. That little bit of moistness is probably good. The next day, they were still perfect.
New Flour Blend for Gluten-Free Bakers (12/14)
As many of the pre-made blends use sorghum flour (and I have eliminated that as well as gluten), I now bake gougere with my own gluten-free flour blend. The new blend I created mixes brown rice, sweet rice, and quinoa flours plus cornstarch and tapioca. The quantities are in the recipe notes below. For accuracy, you will need a digital scale to blend your flours.
Information on flours from Bob’s Red Mill
Cup4Cup gluten-free flour, available at Williams-Sonoma
Rimmed baking sheets. Can’t live without these in my kitchen. Half size and quarter size are the most versatile.
Pre-cuts sheets of baking parchment. These are not only for baking. You will find many uses for them and one pack lasts a long time.