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Why didn't my cream puffs puff?

I have made cream puffs many, many times in the past and they're usually successful. I made them the other night and they didn't puff! They turned golden and dry, and didn't taste terrible (kind of like a firm donut?) but they didn't puff up. I'm not sure what I did wrong this time. Any ideas?

FYI, I used Mark Bittman's method from How to Cook Everything:

1 C water
8 T butter
Pinch salt
1 C flour
4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine water, butter and salt in a medium saucepan; turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Add the flour all at once and cook, stirring constantly, until the dough holds together in a ball, 5 minutes or less. Add the eggs one at a time, beating hard after each addition. This is a little bit of work; feel free to use an electric mixer. Stop beating when the mixture is glossy. Bake immediately for 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days before using.

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  1. How did you get the dough onto the baking sheets (piped, with a spoon, etc.)? Did you pierce them immediately after cooking to let the steam escape? 30 mins at 400 seems like too long a bake time, too - I might go a little hotter at first to get the steam going quickly, then cool it down. Maybe 10 mins at 425 and another 10-15 at 350?

    7 Replies
    1. re: biondanonima

      I didn't pierce them, but I don't think that would have mattered. When I've made them before, they puffed in the oven, not after. I'll try to adjust the temp and see how that goes. Thanks!

      1. re: EggyEggoo

        hi. i tried to make one last night. my first time actually. i thought they looked perfect until i pull it out of the baking sheet. they were stuck on the sheet and they broke. the base was gone. i tried to put oil on the sheet but same thing happened. how can i prevent this in the future?

         
          1. re: jaykayen

            but fair warning - once you discover how fabulous parchment paper is for *everything* you put in the oven, you'll insist on having a roll in your pantry at all times.

            1. re: jaykayen

              i actually used parchment paper.

              1. re: amcluo

                Did you let them cool enough before picking them off? Although for me, they pop off very easily as soon as I take the pan out of the oven.

                1. re: youareabunny

                  hmm.. not exactly. ill try to cool it off a bit longer. thanks.:)

      2. Hard to tell. Here is some advice I have received:
        - after adding the flour, cook the paste a few minutes to dry it out.
        - remove from heat before adding eggs. Depending on exactly how dry the flour and the air in the kitchen are, you may need more or fewer eggs. After adding eggs, the dough needs to form a stiff peak on the spoon.

        5 Replies
        1. re: travelerjjm

          I did all of those, and some other things I've read suggest I maybe didn't let the dough cool enough before adding the eggs (I waited maybe one minute.) And I maybe didn't beat it enough either? It's so weird though, I've made them so many times before and never had a problem.

          I used extremely fresh eggs from the farmer's market. Could that have mattered?

          1. re: EggyEggoo

            I'm not sure about the freshness, but if the roux was too hot, it might have cooked the eggs. They need to cook in the oven.

            1. re: travelerjjm

              Liquid and Flour do not a Roux make

              1. re: chefj

                Of course not. I should have used quotes when I succumbed to what I've found to be not unusual language in describing this. Sorry, all, if I confused anyone..

            2. re: EggyEggoo

              Recipe calls for large eggs... if your eggs were x-large or jumbo then you may have had too much liquid in the recipe.

          2. Did they hold shape while you were piping them? or did they flatten out?

            1. I let the flour paste sit a few minutes before I beat in the eggs---I don't want the heat of the mixture cooking the egg---I want it raw in the oven to puff. And make sure your oven has preheated---the heat has to surprise the egg to make it puff.

              1. Is it possible your oven wasn't hot enough? Even if you think it's been reliable, it can go off kilter. If you don't have an oven thermometer to check the settings, it's a good idea.

                1. sometimes choux pastry just does what it wants to do.

                  You can make it exactly the same way every time, and once in a while it just won't play nice.

                  1. I took a workshop on making "choux" in Paris. I believe they said that ambient temperature/humidity (i.e. weather) can affect success. Also, we were told to use "good" butter, not the normal supermarket stuff. There's too much water in normal butter. Need more butterfat, like from Kerry Gold Irish butter.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ScottnZelda

                      not so much the temperature (although too hot or too cold definitely affect the butter) -- but high humidity will absolutely, positively crush your choux -- you'll end up with weird little patties, not puffy little clouds.