michel roux’s gougères + ‘pastry’ reviewed
I had originally intended it to be Paris week on the blog, highlighting a different restaurant from our recent 5 restaurant/2 night trip, each day. However I’m still light years from finishing the reviews, so in its place is a fittingly French post on Michel Roux’s ‘Pastry’ and a fail-proof gougère recipe from the chef extraordinaire.
I’ve always been a bit rubbish at working up a batch of pastry from scratch – I just don’t seem to have the skills, plus I have appalling upper body strength (and no fancy mixer in the kitchen). So I was hoping to pick up some tips from Roux’s pastry bible, featuring thorough step-by-step guides to making your own pastry (shortcrust, puff, filo, you name it) and page after page of exquisite, perfectly turned out tarts, pies and pastries.
Everything in the indispensable little volume looks inviting, from the show-stopping Rabbit Pâté en Croute and Rum Babas with Chantilly Cream, to the humbler (but no less tasty) Cornish Pasties and Apple Turnovers. We attempted the Cornish Pasties (with Roux’s inspired substitution of pâte brisée for the stodgier traditional lard-based pastry) a while back which were terribly good and surprisingly not as daunting a task as expected.
Heartened by that success, B decided to give the gougères a go as well (albeit without the suggested mushroom duxelles filling) and churned an exemplary batch – all puffed up and golden, with moist savoury centres. Be sure to make extra (ours, served to a party of 6 were gone in minutes!) and don’t be tempted to use poor quality cheese, as a nicely aged Comté will make all the difference.
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
125ml (1/2 cup) water
100g (3.5 oz) butter, diced
1/2 tsp salt
150g (5.3 oz) plain flour
120g (4.2 oz) comté or emmenthal, grated
small pinch of cayenne pepper
eggwash (1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp milk)
Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F).
First make the choux paste. Place the milk, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan and set over a low heat. Bring to the boil, then immediately remove from heat. Throw in the flour and mix in with a wooden spoon, until completely combined.
Return the pan to a medium heat and stir continuously for a minute to dry it out a little, then tip it into a large bowl. Pop in the eggs one at a time, beating each addition in with the wooden spoon. Once the eggs are properly incorporated the paste should be smooth and shiny, with a thick ribbon consistency.
Mix in the nutmeg, cayenne and three-quarters of the grate cheese, taking care not to overwork the mixture. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle and pipe small mounds in rows on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.
Brush each gougère with eggwash and lightly mark with a fork. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and pop in the preheated oven to bake for 20 minutes until dry and crisp on the outside, but still soft inside. Serve immediately.