Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Gougeres: Lumps of Love
I have been wanting to make gougeres for a long, long time but I have been seriously intimidated by pate a choux. I can't even begin to pronounce it (in spite of years of French lessons) so making it could not be any easier. But the other day I decided to try. It was another gray day and we were having a big green salad of baby arugula, asparagus, roasted onions, toasted walnuts and pickled beets for dinner. I wanted little gougeres as an accompaniment, dammit!
So I made some choux. And guess what? It wasn't nearly as challenging as I thought it would be. My little gougeres were stuffed with gruyere and fresh ground pepper and they were so small and good (though I do wish they had been a tad smaller and more bite sized, but I'll know for next time, right?)
The only problem, as M. was kind enough to point out, was that they were not exceedingly puffy. He said this in a way that was nice and complementary, "They aren't as puffy as I'm used to." But I know that what he was really meant was, "These aren't huge and puffy and airy like the gougers at Tartine Bakery. What gives?"
I was a little miffed. After all, I made gougers. From scratch! To serve for dinner after you returned home from another country tired and a tad hungover! But then, miracles up on miracles, I read this Culinate article yesterday: PAC MAN
It is all about making pate a choux and the myriad of things that can happen that make it not puff. If you don't have the time to read the article, the upshot is my gougers did not puff because I am not, as of yet, a choux wizard and thus don't know how to fiddle with the egg to gluten ratio, fiddle with the temperature of the oven, etc. etc.
Despite the criticism, I loved my little gougers and will make them again. Really, they are too easy. So heat up that oven -- is it hot where you are? And get bakin'.
makes about 2 dozen gougeres
1 cup water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
4 large eggs, chilled
1 cup (packed) gruyere cheese (4 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Position one rack in the top third and another in the bottom third of the oven and pre-heat to 400. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Bring one cup water, butter, and salt to simmer in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking until butter melts. Add flour, stir rapidly with wooden spoon until four absorbs liquid and forms ball, pulling away from sides of pan. Stir vigorously until film forms on bottom of pan and dough is no longer sticky, one to two minutes longer. Remove pan from heat, cool dough two to three minutes. Using electric mixer, beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in cheese and pepper.
Drop rounded tablespoons full of batter onto baking sheets, spacing about three inches apart.
Bake gougeres until golden brown, about 30 minutes, reversing position of pans halfway though baking. You can use a small, sharp knife to pry open a gougere to check for doneness. The center should be eggy and moist. Serve hot or warm.
Can be made three hours ahead. Transfer to racks. Cool. Re-warm in 350 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes.