This is a mostly simple procedure, the sole trick of which is making sure you cook the batter long enough (three minutes should suffice). Though it seems like overkill to me, you can fill a gougère by inserting a small amount of cooked meat, sausage or cooked mushrooms into the center. In that case, it’s a good idea to bake the gougères in small molds or cups. The formula is:
8 ounces water
4 ounces unsalted butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper, chili powder or black pepper
Pinch of sugar
5 ounces all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
2.5 ounces grated Gruyère cheese
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
Combine the water, butter, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and bring just to the boil over medium-high heat. Add the flour all at once and stir until the batter comes together into a paste. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to stir for three minutes, until the mixture comes together into a shiny ball. A film will be left on the surfaces of the pan. It’s a bit of a pain to clean, but it’s part of the process. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for about five minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl or the bowl of a mixer. Beat the eggs in one at a time until the batter is smooth and silky. Add in the cheese and spices and stir to incorporate it completely. At this point you can put the batter into a pastry bag and pipe it, or simply spoon it onto the baking sheets, a tablespoon or so of batter per gougere. Space them about two inches apart. If you wish you can add a little extra cheese, a sprinkling of chile powder or a drop or two of tabasco sauce to the tops.
Bake for 8 minutes at 450, until the gougères puff up and seem somewhat rigid, then drop the heat to 350 and continue to bake for 20-25 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Serve them hot or cold. This recipe makes about 40 gougères, though I usually make extras in case other people want some.