February 22, 2021
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Anyone who bakes has probably at least heard of pâte à choux, or choux pastry, that airy, delicious pastry that is the base for such French treats as eclairs and cream puffs.
But you might not have heard of gougères, which is a savory, cheese-infused version of the same type of dough.
Choux pastry is one of those baking miracles in my mind. Water, butter, flour, and eggs combined in such a way to create light, hollow pastry puffs perfect for filling. There is no rising agent beyond the steam that is produced when they are baked, and which makes them puff up into rough, round balls. “Choux,” in fact means “cabbages,” because the shape of the finished pastries resembles little cabbages (and you will sometimes see it called pâte à chou, employing the singular form.)
Gougères are made the same way, although usually the water will be substituted entirely or in part with milk, and cheese is added.
The proportions are usually one part butter to two parts liquid, two parts flour. The amount of egg will vary according to the recipe. I use 4 eggs for every cup of flour, as below, but Escoffier recommends twice that many! (Read more about why I love the Escoffier Cook Book.)
The classic cheese used in a gougère is Gruyère or something similar such as Swiss or Emmental. I’ve seen recipes using cheddar and parmesan as well. Any sharp cheese without too high a water content can be used.
The amount of cheese can vary from 1 part cheese to 1 part flour, up to twice that much. Experiment to see how cheesy you like your gougères!
Watch our cooking video on how to make gougères:
These are a great snack, perfect when served with an aperitif, or a great accompaniment to soups.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 22 minutes
Cook method: Bake
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Put the milk, butter, salt, and pepper in a heavy-bottom saucepan. When the liquid boils, remove from the flame and stir in all the flour at once. Return to the stove over medium-low heat, and stir with a wooden spoon until a smooth, dry dough forms and stops sticking to the spoon. (This takes 2-3 minutes.)
3. Scrape the dough into a bowl and let cool for a couple minutes. Then, add the eggs to the dough one at a time, thoroughly incorporating each one before adding the next. The dough will look broken at first, but if you keep stirring will return to being smooth. Once all the eggs are blended in, the dough will be smooth and shiny. Add the cheese and nutmeg, mixing well to incorporate.
4. Either pipe or spoon the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, using about 1 Tbsp per bun, and leaving 2 inches between them. Sprinkle a bit of cheese over the top.
5. Bake for 20-22 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through if your oven heats unevenly.
6. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. You can serve the gougères warm or at room temperature. The recipe makes about 30 gougères.
You can store uneaten gougères in an airtight container, or freeze them and reheat them before serving. (You can also pre-make the dough and freeze them before baking on a baking sheet. Once they are frozen solid, put them in a plastic bag until you are ready to use them. They can be baked straight from the freezer.)
Check out more pastry recipes in our archives:
By Peg Kern
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