- Egg Wash
- In a medium saucepan, bring the water, milk, butter, and salt to a boil over medium-low heat. Add the flour all at once, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon; then reduce the heat to low and cook stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes a slightly sticky paste and forms a ball around the spoon and there's a film of starch on the bottom of the pan, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Heating up the liquid ingredients (water, milk and butter) will help to gelatinize the starches when the flour is mixed in. These ingredients being fully melted before the addition of flour helps to ensure that the flour does not clump when added in. Clumped flour will affect the final texture and the amount of gluten that is formed. The flour added will cause the mixture to thicken up and gluten will start to form. The glutenin and gliadin mixed with water cause gluten to form. Also since the flour being used is bread flour, which has 12-13% gluten forming protein, the final dough will have more gluten. The constant mixing will make more gluten form. The gluten helps the pastry to be strong and flexible(1). If the eggs were to be added during this step, they would cook prematurely. The water in the eggs would evaporate out, causing the batter to have not enough liquid to rise when in the oven. The leavening agent in this recipe is water and steam. Eggs are made up of around 74% of water. With five eggs being in the recipe, this is a substantial amount of water to lose. Adding the eggs here would make the end pastry very hard and small, as there would be no air to add lightness and volume.
- Transfer the paste to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a large bowl and a hand mixer). Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute to help cool the paste.
- The mixture needs to be cooled before adding the eggs. If the eggs are added immediately after the mixture is taken off of the heat, the eggs will cook and scramble in the mixture. This would leave chunks of cooked eggs in the pastry dough, making it not smooth and having an eggy taste. Putting the mixture in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment helps to consistently mix the dough and get the most heat out as possible(1).
- Whisk the 5 eggs together in a liquid measuring cup. With the mixer running on medium speed, add the eggs in a slow, steady stream and continue mixing until fully incorporated, 4 to 6 minutes.
- The eggs play a very large role in the dough, both in structure but more importantly the rising process. The eggs in this step are acting as an emulsifier and a stabilizer for the liquid ingredients. They allow for both fatty substances and water substances to interact with each other.
- Test the consistency of the batter by dipping the paddle (or a beater) into the batter and lifting it up. The batter should form a V shape that eventually breaks away from the batter in the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too stiff or pulls away too quickly, whisk another egg and then, with the mixer on medium speed, pour in the egg in a slow, steady stream, mixing until incorporated, about 1 minute. Do the test again and add the other egg if needed, mixing until you get the V. Transfer the batter to a disposable pastry bag (or zip-top bag) fitted with a large plain tip, or cut a ¾-inch opening at the tip.
- Pâte à choux dough doesn't always need an exact number of eggs, it just needs enough egg to fully saturate the flour and that the butter and flour will hold(3). The humility of the day will also greatly affect how many eggs that you need to add. The dough needs to have enough liquids in it so that the water in the eggs can evaporate and create steam, which will help the pâte à choux rise and form air pockets(1).
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Hold the pastry bag straight up and down above one of the baking sheets and pipe 2-inch mounds of pâte à choux on:, the baking sheet, spaced 1 inch apart. As each round nears the correct size, release the pressure on the bag and twist it slightly to finish. If the tops of the puffs have little points or divots, dip your finger in water and press gently to smooth them out-this will keep the cream puffs round and pretty. Let the puffs rest on the baking sheets until the batter forms a skin, 20 to 30 minutes.
- The dough has to develop a skin so that the outer layer of the pastry is crispy and hard after baking.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F / 204°C with racks in the upper and lower thirds. While in the oven, the butter is going to start to soften and make the dough more flexible. Once the dough starts to get hot enough, the water is converted into gas and is going to start to evaporate out of the dough. However, the water is unable to do this because it is surrounded by a flexible but impenetrable shell, aided by the skin that was formed in the previous step. The gaseous water will continue to push on the dough, causing it to rise and puff the pastry up. The gelatinized flour and gluten formation help for the pastry to stay stretchy and flexible while not breaking the surface of the dough. Eventually the egg proteins will denature and set the pastry, making it firm up and stop expanding.
- Having the racks on the upper two thirds is because heat energy rises. Ovens are mainly heated through convection. The heat cycles in the oven, so the warmest heat is at the top, making the cooking time lower.
- Brush the cream puffs with the egg wash and bake until evenly golden brown and very crisp (when you tap them with a fingertip, they should feel firm and sound hollow), 24 to 26 minutes. Cool completely.
- The pastry will also start to turn a golden brown color because of the Maillard Browning reaction. This reaction occurs above 250 degrees Fahrenheit and involves reactions between a carbohydrate and an amino acid. These reactions need high sugar content, high protein concentration, and high pH’s to occur. The sugars from the flour and the proteins from the eggs make this reaction occur(1). They will sound hollow because of all the steam that was created, which made air pockets in the pastry. The firmness of the pastry is from the denatured proteins of the eggs and structure from the flour(1).
The main purpose of the water is for it to turn to steam and act as a leavening agent. The water also helps to bind the flour to the other liquids and form a roux. When water is mixed with flour, gluten starts to form, so it also enables gluten formation.
The whole milk acts as a liquid and a fat. Whole milk has around 3.5% fat content. The fats in the whole milk help to limit some gluten formation and tenderize the final product. It gives some structure through the proteins in the milk.
The butter acts as a liquid and a fat. Majority of butter is made up of water, so this aids in the steam and leavening process. The fats in the butter help to limit some gluten formation and also help to tenderize the final product. The butter also helps to create flaky layers and pockets of air by surrounding some of the other ingredients in the baking process. Having the butter being unsalted also helps the baker control the salt levels in the batter and the overall flavor.
Fine sea salt
Fine sea salt is added for flavor. It being fine helps for it to more evenly distribute in the batter for a unified flavor.
The bread flour acts as a carbohydrate and a starch. Bread flour has 12-13% gluten potential, which is a higher percentage than other kinds of flour. When mixed with water, it can create a lot of gluten. There are trace amounts of sugar in the flour which allow Maillard Browning.
The eggs are the most important ingredient in this recipe. Majority of the egg is made up of water, and because of the timing of when the egg is added, the water in the egg is used for leavening and rising. The proteins in the eggs are used for structure and for emulsification. They are also used for Maillard browning in the egg wash.
1 - FoodCrumbles. "The Science of Choux Pastry." Food Crumbles, 22 Mar. 2022, foodcrumbles.com/the-science-of-choux-pastry-in-profiteroles/. Accessed 13 Apr. 2022. - FoodCrumbles goes in-depth to the science that makes pâte à choux pâte à choux. It goes into detail of what the science is doing to make the pastry and how all the individual ingredients are affecting the end product. With many pictures and diagrams, this site throughly explains the science behind this pastry. I plan to use this source to explain the importance of each of the ingredients in the pastry and why and how they affect the end product.
2 - The Chemistry of Eggs and Egg Shells. 2016. Compound Interest, lms.dickinson.edu/pluginfile.php/1723555/mod_page/content/26/The-Chemistry-of-Eggs-Eggshells.pdf. Accessed 14 Apr. 2022. - This source explains what an egg and egg shell is chemically. It includes both Lewis structures and written explanations of what is chemically going on inside an egg and egg shell. I plan on using this source when discussing eggs and how they will affect other ingredients in pâte à choux.
3 - ---. "Baking School Day 2: Pâte à Choux." kitchn, 1 May 2019, www.thekitchn.com/baking-school-day-2-pate-a-choux-222480. Accessed 13 Apr. 2022. - Huff goes over the basics of what pâte à choux is and how to make it. She uses pictures to help describe how to make pâte à choux and what the different stages look like. She goes through the steps of how to make it, including detailed instructions on how to properly make the pastry. I will use this source to help describe the process of how to make the pâte à choux and on how I will alter the recipe for my experiment.
4 - Huff, Tessa. "Baking School Day 1: All About Eggs and Baking." kitchn, 1 May 2019, www.thekitchn.com/baking-school-day-1-all-about-eggs-and-baking-222479. Accessed 13 Apr. 2022. - Huff's article incudes information surrounding how eggs are used while baking. It covers what exactly an egg is, what it is made up of, and how they are used in baking. It includes pictures to show examples of how eggs are used and detailed descriptions explaining the eggs. I plan to use this when explaining the difference of what a whole egg, just the egg white, and egg yolk will make in a recipe.
5 - Crosby, G. (2012) The Science of Good Cooking. Brookline, MA: America's Test Kitchen - Crosby goes into detail of how eggs are cooked in custards. While my project does not have to do with custards, it does have to do with the cooking of eggs, the egg as a whole, the egg white, and the egg yolk. It demonstrates the importance of when eggs should be added and at what temperatures. I plan to use this source when discussing eggs and when they are added to the recipe.
6 - Provost, Joseph J., et al. The Science of Cooking : Understanding the Biology and Chemistry Behind Food and Cooking, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2016. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/dickinson/detail.action?docID=4530809. - Provost goes into great detail of the science of cooking and pastries. He explains the science behind what is happening between ingredients and why it is happening. I plan on using Chapter 10 of his book, "Bread, Cakes, and Pastry". I will use it to explain the science and chemistry behind the ingredients and how they interact with each other.