I’d never had a cream puff until I came to Maui, which means my first ever cream puff was made by Komoda’s Bakery in Makawao. I couldn’t have very many at that time because I wasn’t supposed to be having dairy, but I had one anyway. At that time I didn’t know about the gluten issue that was keeping me away from dairy, and I didn’t realize how big of a deal the dairy really was. It was causing damage I wasn’t really aware of. Now I can have as much dairy as I want, as long as I don’t eat even the smallest amount of gluten.
Well, with the Gluten Free Rally, hosted by Erin of The Sensitive Epicure, this month I had an opportunity to make something I never had ever considered making. This month’s theme is pâte à choux, or French pastry dough. It’s used for things like eclairs, profiteroles, beignets, etc.
Profiteroles, or as we call them cream puffs, are so light. The lightness comes from the air holes that are created in the dough. While I’m not sure of how the science works, I’m just glad it does. There’s actually not much in terms of ingredients needed for choux. Some flour, butter, water, salt, and eggs. It’s easier if you have a stand mixer, but people made it before the existence of stand mixers.
Getting to eat a cream puff today was so special. It’s been about 5 years since I’ve had a cream puff. Two of those years I didn’t eat them because of the dairy. Three of those years I didn’t eat them because of the gluten. Now I know I can have them anytime I want.
Cream puffs are so much fun to make and to eat. They’re fun to make because you can decide on any type of flavoring you want for the pastry cream. You can also use whipped cream, or nothing at all. You can pop them open and drizzle chocolate sauce, or any other kind of sauce onto them. They could even be used for serving with savoring foods as a nice light dinner roll.
In regard to them being fun to eat, as Devin and I were sharing one of the puffs today I tried to take a bite while he was holding the puff, and then he started to drop it, and we knocked heads. His hand was covered in pastry cream, and we both burst into laughter and tears of joy. I looked in the mirror of the bathroom as we cleaned up, and I said that my face was the face everyone should have as they eat cream puffs.
I looked at my copy of How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman for the method of how to make the pastry and puffs, and for how to make the pastry cream. I figured out the weight ratio for the pastry ingredients and set to work. When I say work, there really wasn’t much to it. Thanks to all of the participants in the Gluten Free Rally I was able to figure out what flours to use on the first and only try. While they’re not as healthful as other baked goods I make, they aren’t really meant to be. They’re meant to be a treat.
The ratio is about 2 eggs: 1 fat: 1 flour: 2 liquid
Gluten Free Earl Grey Cream Puffs
212g of eggs out of shell (about 4 large eggs)
113g butter = 1 stick or 1/4lb
Pinch of salt
111g of flour (I used equal parts oat flour, tapioca starch, and corn starch, so 37g of each)
214g of water
Preheat your oven to 400F.
In a sauce pan bring the water, butter, and salt to a boil. Be sure to melt the butter completely. Turn down the heat to low and add in the flour quickly, mixing completely. Stir it until the dough forms a ball and comes away from the pot. Dump this into a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Add each egg once at a time into the dough. Mix on medium-high until the dough comes together as you see in the picture below. It shouldn’t be lumpy at all. It should look gummy and like it is stretching between the sides of the bowl and the paddle. A bit like stringy mozzarella.
Place the dough into a pastry bag with a star tip and pipe into puffs the width of your choosing on a parchment lined baking sheet or onto a Silpat. Be sure to stack them a little high. They might spread a bit, but don’t worry. They’ll puff.
Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR until the end of the bake time. Quickly check to hear if the puffs are hollow and to feel if they are firm. If they are, then remove them from the oven. If not, try to let them bake a few minutes more, but not very long. We don’t want them to burn.
After you remove them from the oven, poke a hole into them to let the steam escape. Do not attempt to fill the puffs until they’ve cooled.
Using a small plain point pastry tip and bag, fill the puffs with the Earl Grey Pasty Cream or whatever filling you’d like.
Earl Grey Pastry Cream
adapted from Mark Bittman
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons gluten free all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of salt
2 eggs, whisked
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons loose leaf earl grey tea (I used Rishi brand)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
In a pot heat the cream over medium-low heat along with the loose leaf tea. Allow the cream to get hot, but not to a boil. Stir occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. When the cream is hot, turn the heat off and cover the pot with a lid. Steep for 5-8 minutes so the flavor gets nice and strong. Strain the cream into a medium bowl.
Very slowly, while constantly whisking, add the eggs to the cream. The cream will be hot, so this must be done very slowly as to not cook the eggs.
In another pot put together the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Add in the egg and cream mixture. Whisk out any lumps. Bring the mixture up to a boil, and turn the temperature down to low. Constantly whisk until the mixture becomes thick enough to run your finger to it and leave a permanent shape in the cream. This should be about 15 minutes.
Strain the contents of the pot through a fine mesh sieve. You’ll notice more pieces of tea and even some small pieces of dough. Finally, whisk the butter into the hot pastry cream.
Allow the cream to come to room temperature before piping into your puffs. This cream may also be added to eclairs or used in tarts.