I've been feeling distracted lately. Lots to get done, lots to plan for, lots of interruptions every day. Thoughts swirling, even when I'm sitting still. Never feeling like everything on my list will be crossed off.
I'm not actually complaining. Most of what is taking up my time and energy is good. New desserts that are getting rave reviews at 40 Paper. Lots of playdates for the boys. Visits with Eli. Making plans for an anniversary weekend away for Josh and myself. Glorious weather to enjoy, after weeks of cold and gloom. Even the homey, small-town excitement of watching our town's Memorial Day parade ready itself, since the staging area was down the road from our house. It's gearing up to be a good summer.
But still, sometimes I think it would be nice to be this photo:
Solitary, content, bathed in light, lacking nothing. Sweetly satisfied.
You see, if I'd actually been feeling anything like that recently, I probably wouldn't have almost forgotten to make those frangipane puffs pictured up there. As it was, the second half of May was a bit disorienting for me, and suddenly here it was the end of the month and I hadn't even thought about June's Gluten-Free Ratio Rally challenge, never mind started playing with ratios.
But this month is pâte à choux! And there was no way I was missing that. Pâte à choux is a pastry chef's best friend, even if that pastry chef happens to bake gluten-free. How many other basic recipes can be baked, boiled, or fried, prepared sweet or savory, and can be adapted to so many varied "mix-ins?" Pâte à choux is an indispensable trick to have up your sleeve.
Plus, pretty much everything you can make with pâte à choux is delicious, and a little bit magical.
There are many wonderful people posting amazing recipes based on pâte à choux today. I'm betting there are also a lot of explanations of how each participant got to their final recipe, the ratios and techniques that worked for their particular set of ingredients. I love these types of conversations. I love the science behind baking, the little changes and tweaks that result in big differences in outcome. I've got two pages of notes on my thoughts about and experiments with gluten-free pâte à choux, and my comparisons of lots of professional recipes. I want to be in on the action.
However, I've also got two feverish little boys who need my attention today. They don't care about why I think a high percentage of starches in the flour mix yields the best-tasting choux. (It's mostly because, to me, the ideal choux tastes of egg and butter, not flour.) They don't care how satisfying it was for me when, in the last-minute rush to make these puffs, I looked in the fridge for something to flavor them with and found the inspiration for not one but two variations on a theme: a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano and frangipane leftover from recipe development for 40 Paper. And it certainly doesn't matter to them why I think the food processor is absolutely the way to go when mixing the dough (although if they had seen the loose, lumpy mess that came out of my stand mixer they might be better able to appreciate the beauty of the food processor turning it into a thick, smooth, extremely sticky paste.)
They just want stories and promptly refilled water bottles. They need thermometers and cool washcloths. They want snuggles and puppets with silly voices and their next dose of bubble-gum flavored Tylenol, soon please.
And I, of course, will comply. No questions asked, no hesitation when it becomes clear that we need to shift gears away from my plans for the day and instead focus fully on the little ones. Because that's what we mamas do. Instinctively, willingly, lovingly.
Admittedly, though, it will be wonderful when the boys have their normal appetites and energy levels back. Especially if it means they're up for some more pâte à choux products. Because this mama has a long list of delicious posts she wants to bake her way through!
Here are the other talented participants in this month's Ratio Rally. Many thanks to Erin of The Sensitive Epicure for hosting this month, and for offering a wealth of information and invaluable assistance to all the Rallyers! There are some wonderful creations presented here, and I hope you are inspired to make your own pâte à choux - you'll discover that, with the right ratio and technique, it can be quite easy! See what others are saying by following the conversation on Twitter, using the hash tag #gfreerally.
Amanda of Gluten-Free Maui made Earl Grey Cream Puffs
Amie of The Healthy Apple made Pâte à Choux with Creamy Macadamia Icing
Britt of GF in the City made Cream Puffs & Profiteroles
Caleigh of Gluten Free(k) made Savoury Paris-Brest
Caneel of Mama Me Gluten Free made Key Lime Cream Puffs
Charissa of Zest Bakery made Choux Shine: Koshi-an Filled Cream Puffs
Claire of Gluten Freedom made Chocolate Eclairs
Erin of The Sensitive Epicure made Gougères Filled with Herbed Goat Cheese & Churros
Gretchen of Kumquat made Cheddar Gougères with Date & Pine Nuts
Irvin of Eat the Love made White Cheddar Fennel Gougères stuffed withPorcini & Shallot Goat Cheese
Jenn of Jenn Cuisine made Gruyere & Herbed Gougères
Lisa of Gluten Free Canteen made Cracked Pepper & Cheese Gougères
Lisa of With Style and Grace made Cherry Garcia Filled Cream Puffs
Mary Fran of Frannycakes made Marillenknodel with Ginger & Cardamom Sugar Chai Cream Puffs
Meaghan of The Wicked Good Vegan made Vegan GF Cardamom & Rose Water Cream Puffs
Meg of GF Boulangerie made Chouquettes
Meredith of Gluten Free Betty made Gluten Free Churros
Morri of Meals with Morri made Draft Cider, Saffron & Chive Gougères
Pete & Kelli of No Gluten, No Problem made Almond Choux Florentines
Rachel of The Crispy Cook made Cream Puffs with Coffee Cream
Robyn of Chocswirl made Gruyere & Parmesan Gougères with Sage & Thyme
Sea: Book of Yum made Rose Vanilla Cream Puffs & Eclairs
Silvana of Silvana’s Kitchen made GF Spinach Gnocchi Parm
T.R.of No One Likes Crumbley Cookies made Beignets
Basic Pâte à Choux
yields enough for 2-3 dozen puffs or gougères, depending on size
The ratio for this recipe is 1.6 parts liquid:1.1 parts butter:1 part flour:2.5 parts eggs
40 grams cornstarch
15 grams tapioca starch
8 grams sorghum flour
70 gr unsalted butter
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
73 grams water
15 grams heavy cream
15 grams whole milk
2 large eggs plus just under 2 egg whites (to yield 160 grams), thoroughly whisked
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat.
1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the cornstarch, tapioca starch, and sorghum and whisk to thoroughly combine. Set aside.
2. In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium-low heat, melt the butter, salt, water, heavy cream, and milk until the butter is completely melted and the mixture has just come to a gentle boil.
3. Once the butter/milk mixture has come to a boil, add the flour mixture to the saucepan and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. You'll know the batter is ready when it comes together in large, smooth clumps and leaves a film of butterfat residue on the bottom of the pan.
4. Immediately transfer the batter to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and pulse for 20 seconds to cool slightly.
5. With the food processor running, pour in the whisked eggs in a slow, steady stream and process until the batter is a thick, smooth paste, about 1 minute.
6. Scoop (or fill a piping bag and pipe) small mounds of choux onto the prepared baking sheet, allowing room for each puff to expand a little. Use wet fingertips to smooth down any peaks of dough that might burn.
7. Bake for 10 minutes at 425ºF, then (without opening the oven!) reduce heat to 375ºF and bake for an additional 15 to 16 minutes, or until puffs are golden brown and firm. Cool on a rack.
For Parmesan & Black Pepper Gougères, add 40 grams grated Parmegianno-Reggiano cheese and freshly ground black pepper (to taste) to the choux after adding the eggs in Step 5. Process until thoroughly combined.
For Frangipane Puffs, add 18 grams granulated sugar to the saucepan in Step 2, and add 100 grams of frangipane to the choux after adding the eggs in Step 5. Process until thoroughly combined. You may need to bake the puffs for a minute or two less than the above recipe calls for, unless you don't mind a little extra color on your puffs - it's just the sugar in the choux caramelizing (which isn't really a bad thing, now is it?).