After visiting my grandmother in England a few years ago, I became determined to devise an easy recipe for cream puffs that I could make here at home. Having never had a cream puff before my visit overseas, I couldn’t get enough of them once I was there–for in England, cream puffs are eaten as often as cookies are here in the United States.
I soon discovered that cream puff pastry is the same pastry used for eclairs–which made it a double bonus for my family, because we had also taken quite a liking to the elcairs we’d found at a privately owned bakery near to our house.
Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do:
Ingredients for Cream Puff Pastry
- 1/2 cup (1 full stick) real butter
- 1 cup spring water
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs — I use Eggland’s Best for their excellent taste and nutrition
Directions for how to make Cream Puff / Eclair Pastry:
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a large pot, bring water and butter to a boil; remove from heat.
- Stir in flour and salt until the mixture forms a ball. Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl.
- Allow flour ball to cool to lukewarm prior to next step (to keep the eggs from cooking prematurely).
- Using a hand mixer, beat the eggs into the flour mixture, one at a time, until well combined.
- For cream puff shells: drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet. For eclair shells, use a pastry tube to pipe out 6″ (or desired eclair length) lines of pastry.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Puffs should be golden brown.
- When puffs done, DO NOT remove immediately. Instead, turn off the oven heat and crack open the oven door; allow to sit for one hour before removing. (This will help to keep them from flattening out as they cool.)
The pastry shells will feel hard when they first come out of the oven–and when they’ve cooled. But once the shells are filled, they quickly absorb a small amount of the moisture in the filling and become slightly softer. This is not a problem and doesn’t at all detract from their taste–it’s simply what happens when the pastry is exposed to any moisture. This softening of the pastry should not be mistaken for “sogginess.” (Although sogginess could occur if your filling has too much moisture.)
Once cream puff / eclair shells have cooled completely, cover them tightly until they’re ready to be filled and/or iced. Pastry shells freeze well if you want to keep them for later use; be sure to seal them in a large Ziplock-style bag to prevent moisture from getting in, then place bag in a stiff outer container to ensure pastries aren’t crushed while in the freezer. Pastry shells may also be frozen AFTER being filled and iced.
Check out my post on How to Make Chocolate-Filled Cream Puffs.