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Why didn't my cream puffs puff?

EggyEggoo Feb 14, 2013 11:28 AM

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. biondanonima RE: EggyEggoo Feb 14, 2013 01:31 PM

    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
      EggyEggoo RE: biondanonima Feb 14, 2013 01:49 PM

      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
        amcluo RE: EggyEggoo Nov 11, 2013 05:38 PM

        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: amcluo
          jaykayen RE: amcluo Nov 11, 2013 05:59 PM

          Parchment paper

          1. re: jaykayen
            sunshine842 RE: jaykayen Nov 11, 2013 06:10 PM

            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
              amcluo RE: jaykayen Nov 11, 2013 07:47 PM

              i actually used parchment paper.

              1. re: amcluo
                youareabunny RE: amcluo Nov 12, 2013 01:24 AM

                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
                  amcluo RE: youareabunny Nov 12, 2013 05:57 PM

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

      2. t
        travelerjjm RE: EggyEggoo Feb 14, 2013 01:41 PM

        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
          EggyEggoo RE: travelerjjm Feb 14, 2013 01:51 PM

          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
            travelerjjm RE: EggyEggoo Feb 14, 2013 01:57 PM

            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
              chefj RE: travelerjjm Feb 14, 2013 06:14 PM

              Liquid and Flour do not a Roux make

              1. re: chefj
                travelerjjm RE: chefj Feb 16, 2013 09:45 AM

                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
              iluvcookies RE: EggyEggoo Feb 14, 2013 01:59 PM

              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. chefj RE: EggyEggoo Feb 14, 2013 06:15 PM

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

            1. q
              Querencia RE: EggyEggoo Feb 14, 2013 10:11 PM

              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. s
                Skippy1414 RE: EggyEggoo Feb 14, 2013 10:45 PM

                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. sunshine842 RE: EggyEggoo Feb 14, 2013 11:16 PM

                  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. s
                    ScottnZelda RE: EggyEggoo Jul 9, 2014 09:43 AM

                    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
                      sunshine842 RE: ScottnZelda Jul 9, 2014 12:39 PM

                      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.

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