For years I avoided any recipe that involved the making of choux pastry. It always seemed like it had ‘catastrophe’ written all over it. Eclairs and profiteroles were to be enjoyed fresh from authentic French patisseries… from French restaurants… from Mum on the odd occasion that she would make a croqembouche for our Birthdays (very swish, I know!), or not at all… When something has been done to perfection and we’ve been fortunate enough to taste it at it’s best, it’s a hard thing to aspire to making it ourselves. More often than not, years of experience and knowledge sit behind such technique and talent.
It took me until a few years ago when I discovered Alice Waters’s book ‘The Art of Simple Food’ to finally decide to dip my toes in the water and give choux pastry a try. A recipe that Alice had gleaned from a French friend caught my eye. Gougères, much less exotically known in English as ‘Cheese Puffs’, are delicious savoury appetisers, perfect alongside a chilled glass of wine (preferably a rosé from Bandol in Southern France). After reading about this lovely lady, Lulu Peyraud, we decided while holidaying in France, to visit her vineyard, Domaine Tempier, just outside of Bandol, Provence and purchased some beautiful wine from her cellar door. A truly magical part of the world.
For those interested, Richard Olney wrote a wonderful book back in 1994, filled with the recipes of Lulu Peyraud, all oozing of Provence and the Meditteranean – a great addition to any cookbook collection.
Despite the fact that our bottles of rosé are long gone, I continue to enjoy baking her gorgeous gougères, made now without fear of puffs that refuse to puff. Please give them a try, if you haven’t already – just quietly… choux pastry’s not so tricky after all!
Gougères | Cheese Puffs
- 125ml/½ cup Water
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 45g/3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- 75g/½ cup Plain Flour (sifted)
- 2 Free-Range Eggs
- 45g/½ cup Grated (or finely diced) Gruyere Cheese
Preheat oven to 190°C. Line 2 large baking trays with baking paper.
In a small saucepan, combine the water, salt and butter. Place on the stove and bring to a boil over medium heat. As soon as the butter has melted, remove from the heat and add the flour (all at once), stirring with a wooden spoon. Place the pan back on the heat and stir the mixture quickly until it begins to pull away from the sides of the pan in a smooth ball. Continue stirring for a minute or two. Remove again from the heat.
At this stage, I prefer to put the mixture straight into an electric mixer for a few minutes on low speed to cool it down a little. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time, ensuring each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next When the dough is looking smooth and elastic, gently stir in the cheese.
The above stage can easily be done by hand, in the saucepan or in a mixing bowl, however please ensure the mixture has cooled down sufficiently, as the eggs will curdle easily if it’s too hot.
Scoop teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto the lined baking trays, leaving reasonable space between each one. Place the tray in the middle of the oven and bake for 25 minutes without disturbing, until golden brown.
When the gougeres are ready, use a sharp knife to place a small slit in each one, allowing any steam to escape. Serve immediately.
Notes on Cooking:
- The gougères can be stored in an airtight container for a day or two and be reheated at 180°C for a few minutes until they become crisp again.
- The recipe can be easily doubled for when more are required… they disappear quickly!
- Feel free to pipe the mixture onto the trays if you prefer, though so far I haven’t seen any benefit in doing so… I like to use a small cookie dough scoop (similar to an ice cream scoop) to ensure each gougère is a similar size.
I bake by weight and noticed that your weight for 1/2 cup of flour is listed as 125g or 1/2 cup. The average cup of flour is 120g, so 1/2 cup should be listed as 60g.
I noticed that because I my batter was too thick. I was in a rush and baked them off – they were edible but way too doughy.
So sorry for the misprint in the flour measurement… it should say 75g (1/2 cup) as here in Australia we seem to go by 1 cup of flour equalling 150g. I’ve just updated the recipe now. Apologies once again!
Oh yum! I made something like this for a party years (decades, actually) ago, but lost the recipe. So glad to have yours. Will measure everything in grams for good outcome, as you suggest to another commentator above. I’ll use whole wheat flour too, as that is what I have. Won’t be quite as light, I’m sure, but will be exciting to see how it turns out.
This is the Recipe of the Day on my Facebook page, Cooking with Whole Grains & Real Whole Foods. Thanks for sharing it.
Lovely to hear from you Kathryn and I really look forward to hearing how they turn out for you. I’ve never tried them with whole wheat flour before, but I made this same recipe again just a couple of weeks ago and they turned out wonderfully, so yes… definitely recommend weighing ingredients and measuring the liquid in mls. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe on FB! Cheers, Margot
My pleasure, Margot. I didn’t get to make them yesterday, but soon I hope!
I tried the recipe but after the addition of the eggs the batter seemed very loose. I beat it for a long time after that but batter still seemed loose. Could this be the size of the eggs and the general liquid to flour propotion?
Hi RM, I’m really sorry to hear that this recipe didn’t work out perfectly for you, but thanks so much for letting me know. A few possibilities as to why your batter was too loose –
1. Size of the eggs (I use eggs that are about 58g each | come in a carton 700g for the dozen)
2. Liquid (best to go by the 125ml, rather than ½ cup, as cup sizes will vary around the world)
3. Butter & Flour (best to go by weight in grams, for same reason as above)
4. Regarding 2&3 above, the recipe is from Alice Waters who is American, so if using cups, be sure that you adjust if need be for wherever you are in the world. USA cup is 225ml, Australian cup is 250ml, British cup is 284ml. Crazy to have these differences… that’s why I always prefer to weigh solids in grams and measure liquid in mls.
I’ve never had a problem with this recipe (and have used it lots), so I’m really disappointed to hear that it’s caused angst and frustration to you in your kitchen. Please let me know if any of the above suggestions help to solve the problem, if not I’ll rack my brain some more to try and work out why… The photos above show how the batter should look before they go in the oven, quite sticky, but definitely should hold it’s form. Hope this helps! 🙂
Yum Yum Margot. They are truly wonderful. Thank you for your sharing your wonderful recipes. Love making them and then the fun part EATING the finished product!!!! haha xx Marish
Yes, eating the finished product is definitely the best part! Great to know that you love these as well Marish! M.xx
I’ve been terrified of choux pastry for the longest time, but your post has inspired me. Thank you!
Hi, so lovely to hear that! I promise that after you’ve made them once or twice, it will seem like second nature. Be sure to also try them sometime without the addition of cheese, as profiteroles for dessert – beautiful sliced open with a scoop of ice cream tucked inside and chocolate sauce drizzled over the top! Please let me know how you go. Cheers, Margot