Saturday, June 15, 2013

French Gougeres - A very cheesy affair for Baking Partners Challenge

This is my second month taking part in the Baking Partner's challenge. Last month I successfully baked a New York style pizza following one of the recipes Swati gave us. That was a dish we all enjoyed and I have made multiple times in the last 2 months since I got hold of the recipe. So I was really looking forward to the 'unveiling' of this month's challenge but when I saw Swati's email with 'Pete a Choux (paht a shoo)' and Gougeres and eclaires recipe details it was like a balloon gone 'phut' :-). She didn't ask us to make 3 different things, hold on for just a second while I will get to explaining what these 3 words mean if you are unfamiliar with French pastries  but before that .. first things first..

As I saw last time, Swati did a great job not only collecting the recipes but also following up with details, videos etc but all the information overload kind of made me back off a little bit since I personally do not enjoy 'elaborate' cooking and also do not ever weigh my ingredients or follow a recipe to the Tee. That explains why I am not running my own bakery :-). So looking at the recipes (a couple of them with weighed in ingredients), my immediate instinct was to come up with an excuse and tell Swati that I would not be participating :-)), but I don't give up easily. So over the next couple of weeks, I went back to study all the information she sent out and finally concluded that (weight or no weight), the recipe was pretty simple and as long as I stuck to the basic principle of getting the process right, I should be churning out (or baking in this case) something delicious. So, I considered myself 'in' and started gathering the ingredients.

Pete a choux is a versatile dough made in its basic form with flour, butter, water & eggs. I saw some variations including milk and water. The unique feature of this dough is that the flour is partially cooked on heat with butter and water. The dough can be used in savory pastries (Gougere being the most popular French pastry) or sweet versions (Eclaires filled with cream or ice cream and topped with glaze is the most popular sweet version). So my next task was to decide whether to make the savory or the sweet version.
Given that this recipe defied all my self-imposed rules about high calorie, butter laden goodies :-), I went the Gougere way as I wasn't sure that the three of us would do justice and consume the sweet version if I made a large batch and I definitely didn't want to feed this to my unsuspecting friends the first time I made it :-). The recipe called for a Swiss cheese called Gruyere. I had never brought this cheese home and didn't remember if I had seen it in my grocery store. Some of the other choices called for Cheddar cheese which I knew would be easily available. But I found a block of Gruyere cheese and was on my way to make the Gougeres.

Verdict: These are light and fluffy and the dough is really versatile as you can jazz it up with any favoured choice of spices. I tried black pepper and kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) but you don't have to be bound by these, be imaginative. The pastries reminded me a little bit of the popular kiddie snack - Gold Fish but I would think it was because of the cheese and the baking. This is a definite party finger food as the dough can be made ahead and frozen upto a day before you bake them.

For me, the eggy flavor was unpalatable though BH and DD didn't seem to mind and enjoyed the pastries. I may not make it again unless it is for a party where I know for sure people will enjoy nibbling on them :-). As I said before, this is a rich pastry, so watch out when you pop them into the mouth.

Thank you Swati for collecting all the information and sharing it with us. If not for Baking partner's I don't think, I would ventured into making a French pastry so early in my baking career :-)

What do you need to make Gougeres(Goo Zhehr)? 
Makes about 18 Gougeres
1/2 cup All purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1/4 Tsp salt
1/2 stick butter (cut into small cubes)
1/2 Tsp fresh ground black pepper (replace it with any other spice/flavoring of your choice)
1/2 cup + 1 Tblsp grated Gruyere cheese (use Cheddar if you can't get your hands on Gruyere)
2 large eggs

Egg wash:
1/2 egg + 2 Tblsp water beaten until homogeneous
How do you make Gougeres? 
  • Heat a sturdy, thick bottom sauce pan on medium heat. 
  • Add water, cubed butter, salt and pepper into the pan and bring it to a boil. 
  • Take the pan off heat, add the flour at one go and stir it in vigorously making sure no lumps are formed. 
  • Bring the pan back to heat, reduce heat to low and cook for 2 minutes stirring continuously until the dough comes out from the sides. 
  • Switch off and add egg one by one and beat the dough with a hand mixer or a wooden spoon until the egg is completely incorporated into the dough. 
  • Repeat with the next egg. 
  • Add 1/2 cup grated cheese and give another 2 rounds of mix. 
  • Line a baking sheet with a parchment paper and preheat the oven to 400F.
  • If you have piping equipment, you can put the dough inside the piping bag and pipe out cute little Gougeres. 
  • I used 2 spoons to spoon out the dough onto the parchment paper, leave about an inch between two Gougeres. 
  • Brush the egg wash lightly on top. Sprinkle a little bit of the grated cheese on each Gougere. 
  • Bake in the 400F oven for 5 minutes, reduce heat to 350F and continue baking for 20-25 minutes or until the Gougeres look golden brown on top. 
  • If you do not own the piping equipment - Take a scoop of the dough with one spoon and use the other to slide the dough onto the parchment paper. 
  • My Gougeres seemed flatter than some pictures I saw on the web, I didn't use a piping bag and it may have been because of uneven spooning of the dough. They were flaky and light inside though. 

These Gougeres can be enjoyed along with other Baking Partner's goodies you will find here. 


Swathi Iyer said...

Delicious, sure Gruyere cheese one taste authentic. You did very well. I think I pulled string on your baker brain. Well done my friend.

NamsVeni Pothas said...

very nice and delicious recipe. really mouth watering

Shannon R said...

Wow! So light and fluffy! Great job!

Kannada Cuisine said...

It is so much like a choux pastry! yum

Suja Manoj said...

Looks fluffy and yum,you did a great job,will try this soon.

Chitz said...

Looks perfect dear :)

Priya Suresh said...

We get gougeres in every bakery here,our family favourite,looks wonderful.

Nilu A said...

Perfect and adorable gougeres.. Hope to try some soon :-)

Shama Nagarajan said...

too tempting dear

Sangeetha Priya said...

wonderful n delicious gougeres...

Tanusree said...

a cheesy affair indeed ! your gougeres have turned out so good. its nice that you did not follow your initial instincts and back off :)

Divya Ashok said...

Love your Gougeres and your blog Nagashree