Pastry, Choux, or Cream Puff Pastry

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

pastry, choux, or cream puff pastry, when baked or fried yields a crisp exterior surrounding a characteristic hollow center, ready to be filled. Made from a paste of butter, water (or milk), flour, and eggs, this workhorse in both the savory and sweet sides of the kitchen relies for its leavening on eggs and the steam created by the water in the dough. Notable for being twice cooked, once on the stovetop and then baked or fried, versions of this dough have been around at least since Roman times. Choux pastry was widely used in the Renaissance; Bartolomeo Scappi includes a recipe for it in his 1570 Opera, using the dough to make fritters. See fritters. In pre-Revolutionary France this pastry dough was known as pâte royale; Republican France renamed it pâte à choux, since it was mainly used to make “petits choux” or cream puffs, which were seen to resemble choux (cabbages).