Saturday, October 25, 2008


Coming into the kitchen, I remembered Chef Phil asking me to use the pâte à choux dough he had from a previous class for that evening’s canapés. I searched the walk-in, found the containers of dough and decided that it was a little past its prime. I decided to whip up a new batch – this is the very same dough that you would use for éclairs, profiteroles, cream puffs, etc. At this point, I can make this type of dough in my sleep and I think I must have been sleeping when I gathered all the ingredients because it didn’t quite come out the way I expected.

The general recipe for pâte à choux is:
- 250 ml water
- 110 g butter
- 140 a.p. flour – sifted
- Pinch salt, pinch sugar
- 4 to 5 whole eggs

With 85 covers booked at the restaurant I planned to quadruple the recipe – giving me more than enough choux for the night. The procedure is very easy, water and butter (cut into small pieces) are placed on the stove heating the water and allowing all the butter to melt. Don’t boil away the water or it will mess with you flour proportion – this is why we cut the butter into small pieces – it melts quicker.

Take the pot off the stove and add all the flour all at once – return to low heat and stir with a wooden spoon to dry out the dough and remove some of the moisture. The dough should come together and be a smooth mixture.

I added my quadrupled amount of flour and started stirring to combine it – something was wrong because it wasn’t coming together and I thought to myself – why is this so watery?? Almost immediately I realized I must have been asleep when measuring the amount of water – in actuality I put 8 times the amount of water into the pot. Stupid me I was annoyed with myself, time was running out and I needed to get it piped and into the convection oven immediately. I ran around the kitchen like a fool and got 4x more flour and butter. I melted the butter in a sauce pan and sifted the flour into the watery mess of dough clumps. Once the butter melted I added it to the mix and prayed it would turn out alright.

I placed the now massive amount of dough into a stainless bowl and then started to add the eggs. So here is the deal with the eggs – one is added at a time and incorporated fully before you add the next. I quickly did the math…8x the recipe equals 32 to 40 eggs!! I laughed to myself and just worked with half the dough to bring it back to a reasonable portion, and 15 to 20 eggs later, my dough combined to a perfect consistency.

I piped the dough into mini-sized balls of dough, brushed them with a mixture of egg wash and cream and rushed two giant sheet pans into the convection oven for about 20 minutes. The little mounds of dough puffed up and turned from pale to golden brown.

While all of this was going on, I left Ashley to create a wild mushroom filling and a cranberry compote which were both equally delicious. We were ready in time for service and cranked out plate after small plate. At the end of the night, with so many little puffs left over, I made some Crème Chantilly and plated mini-sized cream puffs that were shared with Level V and VI students throughout the kitchen. A little something sweet to end the busy night.

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