Pâte à Choux (Éclair) Donuts
w/ a cake spice glaze
Don’t be scared or fooled by the name, pâté à choux (pronounced pat-ah-choo), since it is basically nothing more than a fancy French name for the dough base used to create éclairs, crème puffs and French crullers (otherwise known to me as éclair donuts, minus the cream filling).
With a short ingredient list that consists of everyday grocery items that are easy to find and accessible in all stores, there is nothing to be scared of when attempting to master the making of this incredibly tasty pastry dough, except for me, who f-ed it up about (3) times before being able to pipe nice clean circles of uncooked dough successfully (insert eye roll on behalf of myself – thank you).
I decided to use a new recipe from the Food52 site, since I had no clue that éclair dough is actually called pâte à choux. I loved how they broke down and explained the do’s and don’ts of this recipe since normally, when I make éclairs I use my Mom’s no fail Betty Crocker recipe because according to her, “it never fails.” Both recipes are pretty similar, with the exception of a few different techniques that Food52 prefers over Betty, but overall they are pretty close to being the same. The biggest difference I noticed between each set of directions was when adding the eggs to the batter. Instead of slowly adding in the beaten eggs all at once like Food52 directed, I instead followed the Betty Crocker directions and added one egg at a time. For some reason once I ignored that step on the third try and did it the way I was accustomed to, the dough turned out ok.
Maybe it was an off-day of cooking, or me not blending the ingredients correctly, which I am usually pretty good at, but my donuts came out F.L.A.T – FLAT and definitely not as poofy as they should have been. They were still “dreamily soft” as Food52 describes them to be, with a light crispy outside, but mine unfortunately looked more like sad deflated donut rings rather than the normal super poofy éclair donut ring I was aiming for.
The saving grace to this travesty of a mess up was the fact that my fiancé had no clue I screwed up making these yummy suckers. Once I drizzled the cake spice glaze over the top of them – mostly hoping to mask the imperfections, they seemed to look and taste just fine. He ended up eating them all and even liked the fact that they were…deflated?! So, all in all…a bad mistake, turned into a happy accident in this case!
Pâte à Choux Ingredients:
- 1 c. Whole Milk
- ½ c. Butter
- 1 c. All-Purpose or Bread Flour
- 4 Eggs
Cake Spice Glaze Ingredients:
- 2 c. Confectioners’ Sugar
- ¼ c. Heavy Cream
- 1 tsp. Cake Spice
- 1 tsp. Vanilla
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup milk. Bring to a boil, stirring until butter melts completely. Reduce heat to low, and add flour and salt. Stir vigorously until mixture leaves the sides of the pan and begins to form a stiff ball. Remove from heat. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to incorporate completely after each addition (I use a mix master for this). When the batter has achieved the right consistency, transfer it to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Cut twelve 3- by 3-inch squares of parchment and arrange on baking sheets and pipe dough out in a large circle filling the parchment square.
- Allow the dough to rest upwards of 30 minutes. Place trays in the freezer once dough has rested and freeze, uncooked for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Bake the pâte à choux for 10-15 minutes, until they are golden, puffed and the structure is set.
- While the donuts are cooling make the glaze by mixing all the Cake Spice Glaze ingredients together in a small bowl until it is thick and syrupy.
- Drizzle over the top of the fully cooled donuts. Allow the glaze to rest for 30 about minutes before serving.