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Choux pastry

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Choux pastry
Choux pastry swans
Alternative namesPâte à choux
Place of origin
Main ingredientsButter, flour, eggs, water

Choux pastry, or pâte à choux (French: [pɑt a ʃu]), is a delicate pastry dough used in many pastries. The essential ingredients are butter, water, flour and eggs.

Instead of a raising agent, choux pastry employs its high moisture content to create steam, as the water in the dough evaporates when baked, puffing the pastry. The pastry is used in many European cuisines, including French and Spanish, and can be used to make many pastries such as eclairs, buns, cream puffs, profiteroles, crullers, beignets, churros and funnel cakes.


The term "choux" has two meanings in the early literature. One is a kind of cheese puff, first documented in the 13th century; the other corresponds to the modern choux pastry and is documented in English, German, and French cookbooks in the 16th century.[1][2] This dough was sometimes baked, sometimes fried. Choux pastry is later widely documented in the 18th century, under names including Pate a la Royale or Paste Royal.[1]

Popelins were common aristocratic desserts in the 16th century, and were flavored with cheese or citrus (for example lemon peel, orange blossom water, etc.).[3] They were prepared from dough that had been dried over a fire to evaporate its water, which was called pâte à chaud (lit.'hot pastry').[4]

The royal chefs Jean Avice, a pâtissier, and Antoine Carême, who worked in the court of Marie Antoinette, made modifications to the recipe in the 18th century, resulting in the recipe most commonly used now for profiteroles.[5]

The name pouplin (lit. 'baby, small child'), later popelin or poupelin, is attested in around 1349 for a kind of cake made with flour and eggs.[6]

A widely repeated story claims that choux pastry was invented in 1540 by a Pantanelli and a Popelini (neither of whom is ever cited with a first name), supposedly the pastry chefs of Queen Catherine de' Medici, the Italian wife of King Henry II of France.[7] This is part of the fiction that Italian cuisine was introduced to France by her retinue,[1][8] apparently first mentioned in the 18th century.[9][10] Pantenelli supposedly invented the dough in 1540,[11] seven years after the arrival of Catherine in France. He is said to have used the dough to make a gâteau named pâte à Pantanelli. Over time, the recipe of the dough evolved, and the name changed to pâte à popelin, which was used to make popelins, named after Pantanelli's successor Popelini. However, the story of Popelini, also called Popelin, only appears in the beginning of the 1890s in the writings of the French pastry chef Pierre Lacam [fr].[12][13] The story is clearly fictional given that poupelins are attested long before the 16th century,[6] with the name Popelini being created from the word popelin and not the other way around; similarly, Pantarelli appears to be derived from pâte.[12]

Essential ingredients and manner of rising[edit]

The ingredients for choux pastry are butter, water, flour and eggs. Like Yorkshire pudding or David Eyre's pancake, instead of a raising agent, it employs high moisture content to create steam during cooking to puff the pastry. The high moisture content is achieved by boiling the water and butter, then adding the flour. The mixture is cooked a few minutes longer, then cooled before adding enough eggs to achieve the desired consistency. The boiling step causes the starch in the flour to gel, allowing the incorporation of more water.[14]

Foods made with choux pastry[edit]

This pastry is used to make choux (small puffs), as the name implies, but also profiteroles, croquembouches, éclairs, religieuses, French crullers, beignets, St. Honoré cake, Parisian gnocchi, dumplings,[15] chouquettes (unfilled choux pastry paired with pearl sugar)[16] and gougères.

Choux pastry is usually baked, but for beignets, it is fried. In Spain and Latin America, churros are made of fried choux pastry, sugared and dipped in a thick hot chocolate for breakfast. In Italian cuisine, choux pastry is the base for zeppole di San Giuseppe, which are cream-filled pastries eaten on March 19 for the feast of Saint Joseph. In Austrian cuisine, one variation of Marillenknödel, a sweet apricot dumpling[17] cooked in simmering water, uses choux pastry; in that case it does not puff, but remains relatively dense. Choux pastries are sometimes filled with cream after baking to make cream puffs or éclairs.[18]

A craquelin is covered in a "crackly" sugar topping — and often filled with pastry cream, much like an éclair.



A chouquette (French: [ʃukɛt]), a diminutive of choux, is a small, round, hollow choux pastry covered with pearl sugar.[19][20] Unlike éclairs, which are also made with choux pastry, chouquettes are bite-sized and the hollow inside is not filled.

Chouquettes originate from Paris, France, and can be enjoyed at anytime of the day, typically for breakfast or as an afternoon snack.[21]


See also[edit]

The dictionary definition of pâte à choux at Wiktionary


  1. ^ a b c Potter, David (July 2003). "Powches, Puffs and Profiteroles: Early Choux Paste Receipts". Petits Propos Culinaires. 73: 25–40.
  2. ^ "Trésor de la langue française informatisé". www.cnrtl.fr. Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales. Retrieved 5 October 2023. s.v. 'chou'
  3. ^ Traub, Courtney (29 July 2021). "French Choux Pastry: A Short History". Paris Unlocked. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  4. ^ S.G. Sender, Marcel Derrien, La Grande Histoire de la pâtisserie-confiserie française, Minerva, 2003 ISBN 2-8307-0725-7, p. 98.
  5. ^ Juillet, Claude (1998). Classic Patisserie: An A–Z Handbook. Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 0-7506-3815-X.
  6. ^ a b "Trésor de la langue française informatisé". www.cnrtl.fr. Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales. Retrieved 5 October 2023. s.v. 'poupelin'
  7. ^ e.g., Le Cordon Bleu patisserie foundations. Clifton Park, New York: Delmar. 2 December 2011. ISBN 978-1-4390-5713-1.
  8. ^ David, Elizabeth (1987). Italian Food. Penguin Books Limited. ISBN 978-1-4059-1737-7.
  9. ^ Barbara Ketcham Wheaton (2011). Savoring the Past: The French Kitchen and Table from 1300 to 1789. Simon and Schuster. pp. 43–51. ISBN 978-1-4391-4373-5.
    b. Mennell, Stephen (1996). All Manners of Food: Eating and Taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the Present (2nd ed.). University of Illinois Press. pp. 65–66, 69–71. ISBN 978-0-252-06490-6.
  10. ^ Diderot, Denis; le Rond d'Alembert, Jean (1754). Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers. Paris: Briasson, David, Le Breton and Durand. p. vol. IV, p. 538.
  11. ^ Broder, Jaye (19 January 2014). "Pâte À Choux". Doughries. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
  12. ^ a b Bienassis, Loïc; Campanini, Antonella (6 December 2022), Brioist, Pascal; Quellier, Florent (eds.), "La reine à la fourchette et autres histoires. Ce que la table française emprunta à l'Italie : analyse critique d'un mythe", La table de la Renaissance : Le mythe italien, Tables des hommes (in French), Tours: Presses universitaires François-Rabelais, pp. 29–88, ISBN 978-2-86906-842-1, full text retrieved 5 October 2023
  13. ^ Lacam, Pierre; Charabot, Antoine (1893). Le Glacier classique et artistique en France et en Italie (in French) (2021 reprint ed.). Hachette. ISBN 2329610289.
  14. ^ McGee, Harold (2004). On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (Completely rev. and updated. ed.). New York, New York: Scribner. pp. 552–553, 612. ISBN 0-684-80001-2.
  15. ^ Pellaprat, Henri-Paul; Tower, Jeremiah (2012). The Great Book of French Cuisine. Vendome Press. ISBN 9780865652798.
  16. ^ cite web |last1=David |first1=Lebovitz |url=https://www.davidlebovitz.com/les-chouquettes/ |access-date=24 October 2021 |language=en
  17. ^ "Recipe for this variation of Marillenknödel". GuteKueche.at (in German).
  18. ^ "Basics: Choux pastry". Just Hungry. 6 April 2004. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  19. ^ "Illustrated recipes, kitchenware shop, kitchen accessories, professional cookware on Meilleur du Chef". Cuisine-french.com. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  20. ^ Harlé, Eva (18 March 2015). Pains et Viennoiseries (in French). Hachette Pratique. p. 138. ISBN 9782014600407. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  21. ^ Rose, Lucie (12 January 2015). "Meet the Chouquette: Parisian Breakfast at its Finest". Frenchly. Retrieved 29 March 2021.