If you haven’t made GF choux pastry before, this is the time! This recipe looks long but that’s only because the methods are precisely detailed – it’s not difficult to make.
See footnotes for flavouring options, and a GF chocolate choux option.
Makes: 24 medium buns, 15 éclairs, or 36 profiteroles
For the crème pâtissière:
- 100g caster sugar
- 4 large eggs, yolks only
- 40g cornflour
- 500ml whole milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 40g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
For the choux pastry:
- 240ml water
- 115g cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 160g gluten-free flour
- 4 large eggs, beaten well
For the chocolate ganache:
- 150ml double cream
- 200g dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids), broken into small squares
- 1 medium mixing bowl
- Large manual whisk
- 2 baking trays
- Baking/parchment paper cut to line both trays
- 1 large, heavy-bottomed pan
- Oven-safe bowl or ramekin
- Wooden spoon
- Piping bag with 1/2″ nozzle (or cut-out opening)
- Manually whisk the sugar, egg yolks, and cornflour together in a bowl until frothy and pale.
- Bring the milk and vanilla to the boil on the hob, then immediately remove from the heat. Pour a large spoonful of the hot milk over the yolk mixture, whisking constantly; repeat 4 times, then whisk in the rest of the milk until well combined. Return the mixture to the pan over a very low heat, whisking manually all the time, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it thickens to a stiff custard consistency (but don’t allow it to come to the boil again).
- Remove the pan from the hob, add the butter, and whisk vigorously until the butter is melted and well combined. Pour back into the bowl and cover with clingfilm (push it down so it touches the whole surface of the cream to avoid a skin forming). Leave to cool until it can be put into the fridge to chill fully.
- Preheat oven to 220 C (200 C fan-assisted). Place your oven-safe container in the bottom of the oven. This will be filled with water later for steam whilst baking.
- Draw onto your two pieces of parchment a total of 24 circles (2″ wide) for buns, 15 rectangles (6″ long and 2″ wide) for éclairs, or 36 circles (1″ wide) for profiteroles, leaving room for expansion during baking. Turn the papers over (ensure you can see your markings through) and set aside.
Note: This step isn’t required, but it can help with even placement of the dough.
- Heat the water, butter, and sugar on the hob over a medium heat until the butter is fully melted and bubbles are forming at the edges. Take the pan off the heat and tip the flour in all at once, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon until combined.
Note: It may look like big unworkable blobs sitting in excess melted butter, but don’t worry, it will come together with the eggs in the next step.
- Return the pan to the heat and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, beating constantly, until it’s mostly one ball coming away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 3-4 minutes before adding the beaten egg some at a time, beating well between each addition. You want a thick (not too creamy) dough – you may not need all the egg.
- Transfer the dough to a piping bag with a 1/2″ nozzle (or simply cut the tip of a piping bag to 1/2″ width). Lay your papers on your trays (with markings underneath, if using). Pipe into your circles or onto your lines to a height of about 1″, smoothing the tops with a damp finger to remove bumps if you like.
Note: If you’re not making éclairs and don’t want to pipe, try an ice cream scoop, or just use your fingers to drop blobs in place. (The recipe picture shows buns not piped and not smoothed, for a rustic look.)
- Place the trays into the oven, and pour cold water into the container at the bottom. Bake for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the water container. Bake for 15-20 minutes further (smaller buns will be faster), turning trays halfway through for even baking, until risen and golden brown, and a tap on the bottom of a couple of buns sounds hollow.
- Remove the trays from the oven and poke a hole in the bottom of each bun with a skewer or the tip of a sharp knife. Turn each bun on its side and return trays to the oven, turn oven off, and leave for 4 to 5 more minutes until crisp. Remove trays from the oven and move buns to a wire rack to cool.
- Bring the cream to the boil on the hob, then remove from the heat. Add the chocolate pieces and whisk briskly until fully melted and the ganache is glossy. Pour into a small, wide bowl, and leave to cool.
- Using a piping bag with a long thin nozzle, or a jam syringe, pipe the crème pâtissière into the buns from the bottom (if making éclairs, you’ll want to make 2 holes, one at each end, to ensure the cream fills it fully). Spread the ganache over the top of each bun, or, dip the tops and lift up with a twist.
Gluten-free chocolate choux
Add 40g cocoa power with a reduced amount of 130g gluten-free flour. Watch carefully whilst baking due to the dark colour of the dough.
Crème pâtissière flavourings
Try 1 tablespoon kirsch (cherry liqueur), or 1 tsp ground nutmeg.
You can add 2 tsp peppermint or almond extract, or the finely grated zest of one orange. Use white chocolate (reduce cream to 75ml) for the ganache with chocolate choux for a great alternative which looks stunning.
The GF choux pastry is adapted from Simply Gluten-Free; the GF chocolate choux is adapted from Luis Troyano; the GF crème pâtissière is adapted from Henry Dimbleby; and the chocolate ganache is lifted from the sublime Mary Berry.