Experimental Sunday – The Day I Tried to Save My Pâte à Choux

I must be a blessed person in the kitchen because I have hardly ever had a failure when making something.  I can understand why people get discouraged and say they can’t bake when a first try doesn’t come out right.  It’s discouraging.  And I hate to throw ingredients away!

Tonight I am so cranky about it that I’m exhausted and not sure I want to finish my Valentine’s Cream Puffs.  But I will, they’re a treat for my veterinarian’s office. The picture you see here is a result of completely throwing away a batch of Pâte à Choux and starting over.

I’ve been making Pâte à Choux since I was a teenager, so over 30 years and I’ve never had a problem with it.  I always used a recipe out of my mothers 1950’s Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.  I didn’t have that handy so I grabbed one from the web. It’s the same recipe you see everywhere today.  I’m not going to repeat recipes and instructions for you today.  There’s a great one at La Mia Vita Dolce.

I started my Pâte à Choux by boiling the water, butter and salt and then added the flour and stirred.

This is a recipe you need to have your arms ready for a work out to make because there’s a lot of stirring.

I got the mixture to the stage of holding together and being cooked out enough to remove from the heat and add the eggs.

And then I followed the recipe I had that said to move it to a mixer bowl and put the beater on.

In my estimation this is where the complete failure of the recipe comes in.  I’m sure bakeries use a mixer and they have some tricks but I blame the whole thing on not doing this the old fashioned way.

This is what my Pâte à Choux looked like after adding one egg.  It took only seconds to mix in.

My theory now is that the flour mixture was greatly cooled off by transferring from my warm heavy pan to a cool mixing bowl and mixing in lots of cool air.

I’m going to stick with the thought that by keeping it in that pan the eggs cooks a little more when you add it and the mixture stays thick and firm.

By time I added my eggs I had a nice creamy texture.  This is way too thin.  I knew it, you wouldn’t be able to pipe this out of a pastry bag.

So, now that I had a nice chuck of butter and 4 eggs could I fix this mess.  My husband, being ever supportive, started a web search.  The only thing he could come up with was an explanation that said I may have added one too many eggs.

Nothing that told me how to fix it. With flour being the least expensive of my ingredients I decided it might work if I mixed more flour in.  I added 1/2 cup.  The original recipe only used a cup.  I was doomed for failure.  But I kept going.

I put the dough into a piping bag and piped onto the parchment.  I was tired, I just wanted something to work so I could have a yummy dessert.

You can tell by looking at this that it’s too runny.

I popped them into the oven and watched. They were like little hockey pucks.  They didn’t raise, I could have used them as a weapon!

I threw the whole mess away and started over.  This time I used my arm strength and not the mixer and beat the eggs in one at a time by hand.  I scooped the dough onto the pan using my 2 ounce cookie scoop and ended up with equally rounded perfect mini cream puffs.

The thought I had later was that the one way I might have been able to rescue this Pâte à Choux was to make a second batch of the flour mixture and combine the too runny mixture into it before adding any eggs.  Then add eggs if needed.

If anyone out there has any good ideas of how to save a Pâte à Choux when it’s gone too runny, please let me know.

8 comments on “Experimental Sunday – The Day I Tried to Save My Pâte à Choux

  1. Tonya says:

    make sure that your flour is all purpose flour if you were using pastry flour remember that you have to use more flour than all purpose flour it does make a difference

  2. Rebecca says:

    Thanks Christelle for your rescue suggestion. Even after following your tip and putting the mixture in the fridge for 10 mins it still resembled the image above (was pouring as much as piping the mixture out of the bag). However they did rise and were light and fluffy. Is always frustrating when you can’t see where you went wrong though.

  3. ruth says:

    YOu are a bloody genius Christell. you just saved a batch of 200 pastries for a wedding tomorrow. thank you.

  4. Sydeshow says:

    Thanx to christelle for her suggestion. I am making a croquembouche for my mums 60th and my choux was far too runny. Your post saved me another 8 eggs. You suggestion worked perfectly. Yum. Will add more flour to my next batch for some more stability.

  5. christelle says:

    My choux pastry was too runny as well! I baked 4 eclairs and they were as flat as a pancake – tasted good though :-) – It is very disappointing when that happens BUT there is a way to fix it. My recipe stated 5 large eggs so I made one fifth of the water/butter/flour mix boiling the water and butter then adding the flour all at once. I let it cool down a bit then added my “bad” batch one big spoonfull at a time stirring it energetically, My éclairs are back on tracks, fluffy and beautiful. I hope this helps others. Don’t through your runny choux pastry away!

    • Sharon says:

      Christelle, Thank you for the input. I’m glad that worked out for you. I had it on my list of things to do but ruining a batch for a test was lower on my batch than being successful at other things.

  6. Visiting from SITS…I’m glad I’m not the only one with failures! LOL This last weekend I made Lemon Bars and then we thought while eating them that maybe some raspberry jam swirled in it would be good. Well, I added a layer on top of the cookie and for some reason I ended up with a lemon swimming pool with a thin hard crust on top. Good thought about the temperature change on your cream puffs. I bet that is it.

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