Gluten Free Earl Grey Cream Puffs

The finished product.

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.

This is one of the best ideas ever.

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.

The liquids right after putting in the flour. The dough came together so quickly I couldn't get a shot. Basically it will be a ball in the pan.

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.

See how it's grabbing the sides of the bowl? That's what you're looking for.

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.

I made mine big, but you could make them smaller.

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.

Straining the earl grey tea from the cream.

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.

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19 Responses to Gluten Free Earl Grey Cream Puffs

  1. Devin says:

    These were absolutely delicious. They were as good as any cream puffs I’ve had anywhere (except for Komoda’s – but those have fairyparticles in them so it’s not a fair comparison). When they were fresh, they were indistinguishable from anything I’ve had that’s made with wheat flour, but the earl grey filling took it to a whole other level. They were a little different once they got stale. They got a little bit rubbery instead of that tough stale bread texture. Stale bread is no fun, so I definitely prefer the rubbery, it was just a little odd. For the first day or two, they were flawless though. I would have preferred not to let them get stale, but unfortunately I was not permitted to eat them all in one sitting.

  2. Move over scones, tea’s gotta new friend! I love early grey, and I think the infused pastry cream sounds wonderful. We will have to try this sometime. Yum!

    (Super jealous you are blogging from Maui btw!) :)

    • Amanda says:

      It’s best if you use a quality tea so you get plenty of flavor. You could do this really with any kind of tea, even herbal blends with plenty of flavor would be interesting and delicious.

      Maui is wonderful. I feel so lucky to be here, but we can all feel lucky to be wherever we are as long as we look at the things that make the place special.

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  6. Jenn says:

    What an awesome flavor, and I love how much puff you got from your cream puffs!! Such gorgeous air pockets, great job!!

    • Amanda says:

      Thank you Jenn! I actually took the idea from one of your first comments on the rally about the flour to starch ratio you were using. I then thought I would start with that as a base and try different flours until it came out right. The oat flour must have been spot on because it worked on the first try. i wish the same had happened for you, but it looks like what you came up with is delicious too!

  7. Haley says:

    Mmmm!! These look SO good! What kind of flour did you use to make it work as gluten-free?

    PS: I looooove Komoda cream puffs. They’ve been my favorite since I was a kid [which may explain a few things, hehe].

    • Amanda says:

      Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I left that out when I put the post up. I looked at one side of my notes, but not the other. The recipe has been altered to show the flour and starches used. It was 37g of oat flour, 37g of tapioca starch, and 37g of corn starch.

  8. Bree says:

    HOLY SHIT those were fantastic :)

  9. Caleigh says:

    I love earl grey! It’s so aromatic and relaxing.
    These sound delicious, I will definately be trying this recipe.

    • Amanda says:

      I too love Earl Grey tea. The aroma is relaxing and awakening at the same time. A good black tea is also full of antioxidants, so why not get some while eating a treat?

  10. Erin Swing says:

    Beautiful! Nice work. Love the Earl gray tea pastry cream.

  11. Robyn says:

    Looks like they puffed up so nicely! Love the flavour choice!

  12. Kilee says:

    Hi Amanda! I started reading your blog back in 2009, when I still lived on Maui. I’m so happy that you are still doing it! It’s fun to red your take on the gluten-free scene around the island. It seems like a lot has changed in the past two years. Keep up the good work :)
    – Kilee

    • Amanda says:

      Oh! I’m so glad that you’ve kept up on my blog. Yes, things have changed a bit, but there’s still room for improvement. I see a bright future as long as restaurants and other businesses are willing to learn.

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