Choux pastry is often seen as the toughest of the pastries to master and get right but in essence; its quite basic to make and if you follow these simple steps - you'll be able to knock out a batch of profiteroles or eclairs with the greatest of ease.
The majority of failed attempts occur when the dough isn't cooked and beaten together enough or the dough is too hot when the eggs are added and these are easy mistakes to avoid.
From mixing to baking and then re-crisping; all the steps you'll need are below
Preheat the oven to 200C
Measure out everything you'll need as once you start making the basis of the dough - you can't stop and wait
Place the water, sugar and butter into a large saucepan and heat very gently until the butter has melted.
Once done, whack up the heat for about a minute before quickly adding in the flour and salt and then remove from the heat and beat the mixture fast and hard until a smooth paste is formed. You want to look out for the mixture coming cleanly away from the side of the pan. Once it reaches that stage, scrape the mixture into a large bowl and leave to cool for 10-15 minutes.
After mopping your brow - crack and beat the eggs.
The mixture should be cool - not cold before you add the eggs to the mix. When ready; add the eggs gradually and beat them into the mixture until they are all incorporated and the mix is smooth and glossy. Remember that you might need all the egg though so just watch for the change in consistancy
When done - add the mix into a piping bag and set aside
Fill your kettle with water and bring it to a boil. Then put a roasting tray onto the base of the oven. All will be explained later
You can either grease some baking paper or use a non-stick silicone base. Using the piping bag with a 1cm nozzle (or cut)
For Profiteroles: Pipe small 2cm balls in lines onto the baking tray - leave about a 2 inch gap in between the balls as this pastry will expand
For Eclairs: Pipe 10 cm long lines onto the tray and keep that 2 inch gap between them
Dip your finger in some cold water and gently rub onto the top of the profiterole balls to squash down the peak or along the piping line for the eclairs as this will help them look nicer and also crisp up the pastry as it bakes
Just before you put the choux pastry into the oven, pour some boiling water into the roasting tray so that you'll create steam. This steam will help the choux pastry to rise. Now put the piped choux in the oven
After 25 to 30 minutes; the choux pastry should be done so open the oven and have a look. You want them to be golden brown so that they don't collpase. If not ready yet keep in the oven for a few more minutes
When done; remove the golden brown choux from the oven and switch it off. Remove the roasting tray as we don't need any more steam
Quickly prick the bases of the profiteroles/eclairs with a skewer and pop them back onto the baking tray with the pricked side facing up. Put them back in the oven for 5 minutes to dry out.
Remove from the oven and place on a baking rack to cool
If you don't use them straight away and want to recrisp them before you fill - pop back into an oven at 100C for 5 minutes until crisp - place on the backing rack to cool before filling