Baking Ze Shoe, I mean Choux

So then, after mixing the choux is ready to go. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Spoon the choux into the pastry bag of your choice, fitting it was a collar but no tip (so as to maximize choux outflow). Pipe it into the shape of your choice. Here I’m making short, stubby éclairs, which I prefer over the foot-longs you sometimes see. You can pipe onto a silpat or parchment paper, whichever you have around (if you’re using parchment make sure to stick the paper down to the sheet pan by planting a small dab of batter under each corner).

I do a wavy, zig-zaggy pattern which isn’t the way Jacques Pépin would have me do it, but he wasn’t here to help, so…

Make sure when you’re piping that you pile the choux up some as opposed to just spreading it out. I sort of angle my bag at a steep angle so my little puddles have some height to them. This ensures that the finished product is nice and tall instead of simply wide. Next give them a spritz with water (the extra steam helps the rise).

Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 375 and bake for 10-15 minutes more, until golden.

But we’re not done yet. They need to dry out, and the best way to get that process started is by releasing the steam that’s trapped inside. Do that by poking slits in the bottom of the shells with a good sharp knife.

Leaving them upside-down, the final step is to put them back in the turned-off oven for several hours. Since the oven will still be quite hot at this point, you’ll need to prop the oven door open with something for the first ten minutes or so to release the heat. Say, a wooden spoon. When the ten minutes have elapsed, remove the spoon and close the oven door, leaving them for two hours or even overnight if you wish.

18 thoughts on “Baking Ze Shoe, I mean Choux”

  1. I have made these twice now. They get a good rise, and a nice color, but it doesn’t matter if I vent it with a simple stab, or try taking off the top like a cream puff they deflate into a gummy blob. Am I not baking them long enough to really set the outside structure? I am cooking them for the upper range of recommended time. I’d appreciate your help as I need to try again before my pastry cream gets eaten up! 🙂

    1. Interesting problem. I wonder if your oven is running hot. That would explain why you’re getting a brown exterior but a gooey inside. Have you calibrated your oven lately?

      – Joe

      1. Don’t like pumpin pie??? Who are these communists? Make two just to spite them! 😉

        And let me know how they turn out!

        – Joe

  2. Don’t like pumpkin pie??? Who are these communists? Make two just to spite them! 😉

    And let me know how they turn out!

    – Joe

  3. I’ve made these a couple of times now, and mine always turn out flat (delicious, but flat!). They definitely puff up, so it probably has something to do with the way I’m piping them. Maybe I am not putting enough batter in each choux?

    1. I’ve had the very same problem, Delaney. I suggest trying to pipe a little “higher” if you follow me. Have a look at the tutorial for Gateau St. Honore, and see how those cream puffs are piped. For eclairs try to achieve a little more height with the batter. That will help them puff in a more rounded fashion. Then just make sure to dry them slowly in th oven so the sides stay rigid. Does that help?

  4. My first attempt tonight with this recipe. It was a success. The pastry puffed and stay puff after cooled down. I followed your instruction & piped them at about 30 degree angle from the baking sheet; to heighten the pastry. I also know my oven is very hot. And I think this is a very important factor for the choux to rise, cook & retain their shape.

    Thanks Joe. A lot of stirrings but worth it.

    1. Yes indeed, a hot oven does help. So glad this worked so well for you. Thank you for letting me know!

      – Joe

  5. Hey Joe,

    Was just wondering what the last step is for? The leavin em in the oven overnight bit.

    1. Hey Adrian!

      It’s just to make sure they dry thoroughly. Most people don’t let them go that long, but the risk of taking them out of the oven while they’re still soft on the outside is that they will collapse. That in itself is not a disaster if you plan on filling them, since the filling will pump them back up to some extent. But in general the choux looks nicer the taller it is.

      Please tell me how your go!

      – Joe

  6. Hi Joe, I was wondering if we can freeze choux pastry at whichever stage: before the baking, or after the baking.

    1. Hey!

      I think it’s best to freeze the shells after they’re baked, though I know some people freeze the batter itself. In theory freezing the batter should work just fine, but in my experience the puffs come out a bit flatter than they should.

      – Joe

  7. Hey, thanks for posting this! Success across the board! Christmas tomorrow will be delicious.

  8. Hi Joe,

    Thank you so much for your pate au choux tips. I tried your method of spraying with water and ditching the egg wash. Perfect! Pate au choux is naturally shiny, so I don’t know what the egg wash is for and the water helps them rise so beautifully.

    Love your blog!
    -Helen

    1. You made my day, Helen! So glad this method worked for you. I’m going to love reading your blog, by the way. Do you have any good recipes for smoked fish? I just got a smoker with a cold-smoking attachment and can’t wait to do some trout or whitefish!

      Cheers and nice to know you!

      – Joe

  9. Pretty great job.

    Top scores all around for tips and consistent, foolproof method.

    Nicely done, Joe! Your croquembouche is a showstopper!

    1. It’s YOUR croquembouche, Rolf! Congratulations on an outstanding effort. Send me a picture if you can!

      Cheers and thanks for the comment!

      – Joe

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