Everyone loves a good cream puff. These perfect little balls of puffy goodness are light and airy on the inside, with a crisp and flaky exterior. The best part? They’re usually covered in rich and delicious pastry cream — think vanilla pudding with just a touch of sweetness. A cream puff is basically just that: a ball of dough filled with sweetened pastry cream. It can be made in several different ways, from small individual balls to larger rectangular pieces that are cut into squares or triangles after being baked. Some say Culbert’s Bakery in Goderich is the “original” cream puff but with thousands of recipes online like the five below. The best cream puffs have an incredibly light and airy interior that practically melts in your mouth, with a perfectly flaky exterior. Making them isn’t as simple as it sounds, however! Read on for everything you need to know about making perfect cream puffs at home:
What is cream puff batter?
Cream puff batter is a pastry dough that is made with enriched flour. In other words, it is a dough made from flour that has been mixed with other ingredients to enrich the dough. This enriched flour gives cream puffs their special texture and makes them extra buttery with a flaky and almost crumbly texture. Cream puffs are usually made with a combination of all-purpose flour and cornstarch. The two ingredients are mixed together with a bit of sugar, salt, and a small amount of milk or water. Those ingredients are then kneaded together until the dough forms a ball. Cream puffs are usually made with a type of pastry dough that gets its texture from a high proportion of fat. The fat is usually butter, although you can also make them with shortening. The fat is what makes the dough flaky.
How to make cream puff dough
To make the dough for cream puffs, start by cutting a stick of cold butter (or other fat source) into small cubes. Then, add the cubes to a bowl with 1 cup of all-purpose flour. To that, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of sugar, and 1/2 cup of water. Stir all the ingredients together until they form a ball of dough. If the dough is too crumbly, add a bit more water. If it is too sticky, add a bit more flour. Once the dough is ready, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour. This will help the dough firm up, making it easier to work with. After chilling the dough, roll it out into a 1/4-inch thick sheet. Then, cut out circles using a round cookie cutter. You can either make large cream puffs (about 3-4 inches in diameter) or small ones (about 1-2 inches in diameter). Whichever size you choose, place the dough circles on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the dough at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes, or until the bottom of the circles are lightly browned. Let the circles cool completely before filling them.
Bake the dough for cream puffs
The next step in making cream puffs is to actually bake the dough. This is done either in a large rectangular baking pan or in small individual molds. The rectangular baking pan method is used to make large cream puffs. These larger puffs are perfect for serving as a dessert in their own right, or as a side to a main dish like steak or chicken. They are usually filled with vanilla pastry cream and topped with either chocolate ganache or fresh whipped cream. To bake the cream puffs in a rectangular baking pan, place the baked dough circles on the bottom of the pan. Then, add a layer of vanilla pastry cream on top. You can either pipe the pastry cream into the circles or use a spoon to fill them. Next, place another layer of baked dough on top of the pastry cream and seal the edges with a bit of water. Finish the cream puff by topping it with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Bake the cream puffs for about 15 minutes, or until the top of the puffs are lightly browned. Let the puffs cool for at least 20 minutes before eating them.
Make the pastry cream filling
Pastry cream is a rich and creamy vanilla filling that is perfect for cream puffs. It is easy to make and only requires a few basic ingredients. To make the pastry cream filling, start by heating 1/2 cup of whole milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to simmer. While the milk is heating, whisk together 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Once the milk is hot, add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan and stir. Cook the mixture until it has thickened and is bubbling, then remove it from the heat and let it cool. Once it has cooled, whisk the pastry cream together with 2 eggs yolks. Once the eggs are whisked, stir them into the cooled pastry cream mixture. The eggs will help the pastry cream thicken even more and give it a creamy texture. Once the egg yolks are whisked into the pastry cream, stir in 1/2 cup of butter that has been softened. Butter gives the pastry cream its rich flavor.
The best way to decorate your cream puffs
After baking and filling the cream puffs, you can top them with any number of different toppings. The most popular flavours are vanilla, chocolate, and raspberry. Below are a few ideas for decorating your cream puffs: Chocolate drizzle – Simply melt a bar of dark chocolate over a double boiler and use a spoon to drizzle it over the puffs. Chocolate shavings – Use a vegetable peeler to shave chocolate over the puffs. Sprinkles – Any type of sprinkles will work well for decorating cream puffs. Assorted fruits – Fresh berries, sliced kiwis, sliced strawberries, diced apples, or diced pears all make delicious and decorative toppings for cream puffs. Nuts – Chopped walnuts, peanuts, or hazelnuts are perfect for garnishing cream puffs.
Cream puffs are delicious and light pastries that are perfect any time of year. They are easy to make at home, but they can be difficult to get perfect. Follow this guide to make the perfect batch of cream puffs every time. From making the dough to filling and decorating the puffs, there are a few easy tips and tricks that will help you make them perfectly every time.