Choux dough, also known as choux pastry dough or pâte à choux, is made from butter, flour, water and eggs. Leavening agents are not used in the preparation of this dough . Choux dough has very high water content. When it is baked, the water evaporates causing the dough to puff up and swell. The water in the dough basically acts as the leavening agent.
Choux dough was originally made by a chef named Panterelli in the year 1540. He was a chef at the Florence court of Catherine de Medici, Queen Consort of France. When the Queen left Florence, he traveled with them. He created the dough so that it could be baked immediately while traveling without the need for a leavening agent to make the dough double in size. With the dough, he created a cake or gateau called the Pâte à Panterelli. Over time, other chefs at the French court started using the dough and they prepared several varieties of desserts including a very popular dessert called the Pâte à Popelin or small cakes called Poppelins that resembled female breasts. The dough was further modified by an eighteenth century patisserie called Avice to form the modern day version of Choux dough. He created small buns that resembled cabbage heads and the buns were then named as pate a choux. Eminent chef Antoine Careme then modified the recipe to make it the standard dough for profiteroles that are still used in modern day cooking.
How to make Choux Dough?
The preparation method for choux dough is quite unique. Butter and water are heated in a nonstick pan. When the butter melts, the flour is added to the pan and mixed together to make a soft liquid. The liquid is cooked till it pulls off the walls of the pan to form a round ball. The heat is turned off and the dough is allowed to cool to room temperature. Well-beaten eggs are then added to the dough ball, a little at a time to make a thick paste. This dough paste is then poured into piping bags to make the desired shapes for baking.
Popular Choux Dough Based Dishes
In France, chefs use choux dough in a range of dishes. For example,
- Choux dough may be combined with cheese and baked to make gougeres.
- It may be boiled to make Parisian gnocchi
- It may be baked, split open and stuffed with cream to make cream puffs, profiteroles and éclairs.
- The dough is also used to make a seasonal delicacy called Paris-Brest which consists of a giant cream puff ring filled with flavored cream and served with fresh ice cream.
- Sweet crullers, beignets and other sweet breads are also made from sweetened choux dough.
- The dough may also be filled with savory meat, cheese and butter fillings to make savory apero or appetizers.
- An extremely popular French pastry dish served during festive occasions called the croquembouche is made completely with choux buns. These buns are then studded on top of a conical stand with caramel and sprinkled over with macarons and ganache.
- A popular seasonal cake made with pate a choux is called the St Honore cake. The cake has a circle of puff pastry on the base with small cream puffs layered on top of the puff pastry base.
In Latin America, choux dough is used to make churros. The dough is deep fried and then dipped into a thick chocolate mix to make a chocolate coating on top of the dough.
Preferable Cooking Methods for Choux Dough
Choux dough is usually baked to create hollow puffed forms. These are then split and filled before serving. In Latin America and South America, the dough may be deep fried before serving. In Austria, the dough may be boiled to create a dense but soft dumplin