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It's Choux Time!

Choux buns on a cake stand covered in spun sugar

When I say I will be making choux pastry or profiteroles often people look at me as though I have just grown another head, usually because they believe choux to be incredibly tricky. Don’t get me wrong, French patisserie level choux is hard! But choux good enough to serve as dessert to friends is very doable.

I think the key is in the preparation. Once you start making your choux, you will not really have time to measure your next ingredient. It’s best to have everything measured and ready to go before you start and to have a good read through of the recipe so you have a good idea of each stage.

I always use Delia’s recipe and my mum’s copy of Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course has been used so much that it is held together with parcel tape!

Some tweaks and tips I have learned over time

Instead of measuring the flour onto folded baking paper, I measure it into a jug which is easier to hold in one hand for when you want to ‘shoot’ the flour into the saucepan.

It’s so much easier to make with a handheld electric whisk but it is harder to tell when the pastry has come together in a smooth ball as it keeps moving it too quickly. To check, I turn the whisk off and use it to manually mix the pastry and see if the choux is coming together as it should.

Instead of greasing a tray and dripping water over it, I have started to use lightly greased baking paper as it makes it easier to peel the paper from the profiteroles and they seem less likely to stick!

I also drip water on the baking sheet after I have spooned out the choux- the wet baking sheet can make the pastry slip around when you are trying to spoon the pastry onto it. I also add a small baking tin of water under the choux tray in the oven to add a bit of extra steam.

When I was younger I thought I had created an amazing version of whipped cream but adding some vanilla extract and icing sugar while I was whipping it. I was pretty disappointed to find out that this had already been done and was Chantilly cream! I always keep a bit of cream to one side because cream can quickly be over whipped but folding a bit of unwhipped double cream in can loosen it back up again.

Finally, I tend to add a bit more water to the chocolate sauce than Delia to make it easier to pour but that’s more personal preference!