Monday, August 27, 2012

Daring Bakers' Challenge August 2012- Pate A Choux - Puffy Swans

Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!

Kat's detailed instructions helped me to envision the process of putting this dough together. With her numerous filling options we were given free reign over which to choose. For me, there was no choice- lighter-than-air, sweetened whipped cream would occupy the hollowed innards of my formed choux swans.

Pate a choux is nothing but the dough structure in which cream puffs, eclairs, profiteroles and other  similar pastry delights are made. This challenge thrilled JZ more than it did myself. He loves creme-filled pastries of this sort- to a frightening degree, more than anyone actually should. Come today, his excitement level had clearly risen as he chanced upon a very hot oven, first thing in the morning. He knew the countdown to his much anticipated challenge had just begun.

Fast forward to the 30 minute battle that ensued during swan creation, me in profuse sweat and prayer just to be able to pipe out decent looking swan heads. Anything between the shape of S and the number 2 simply went way over my human head and my first batch of heads streamed out way too thin. Thanks to my very narrow number two tip. The match sticks went merely to wastebin reserve. On to head batch number two. This time, Head-Round two were a far fatter bunch, sturdier than Batch One, but nowhere near the delicate works of art that I saw on the Daring Bakers' page of my fellow DB'ers.

Anyway, the tubby swan heads would have to do, with their curling necks looking more like coiled rattlesnakes. These would most likely relinquish any chance for elegant swans, ruthlessly turning them into the ugly duckling rank. 
From start, my usual maddening run to the challenge finish line had me realize, this time round, that making the crisp, lighter- than -air pastry was really a cinch. And super addictive, once filled. They are far better than anything you could get in a store, possibly even from "authentically good" pastry shops. This is that piece of homemade you want to brag about,  feather- textured puff brimming with cream that dissolves on instant contact with your mouth.

Finally, the most noticeable feature of the prettiful filling was that, any and all ugliness seemed to disappear, bringing about an altogether fanciful and whimsical fleet of swans in its wake.

Thanks Kat for a crazy fun, super charming challenge! Beautiful birdie making is a good thing indeed! 
Baked parts, dismembered and ready to go!
Pate a choux~

  • ½ cup  butter
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs

  • Line at least two baking sheets with parchment paper, or grease pans well.
  • Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F.
  • In a small saucepan, combine butter, water, and salt. Heat over until butter melts, then remove from stove.
  • Add flour all at once and beat, beat, beat the mixture until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pot.
  • Add one egg, and beat until well combined. Add remaining eggs individually, beating vigorously after each addition. Resulting mixture should be somewhat glossy, super smooth, and somewhat thick.
  • Using a small tip on a pastry bag (or nip top of Ziploc bag filled with pastry), pipe out about 36 swan heads. Making it out to look like the  number 2 and possibly a question mark (?), with a little beak (I nixed the beak- since I am so non-adept at any detailed creativity).
  • Remove the tip from the bag and pipe out 36 swan bodies. These will be about 1.5” long, and about 1” wide. One end should be a bit narrower than the other.
  • Bake the heads(app 8 minutes) and bodies(12 -15 minutes until golden and puffy. The heads will be done a few minutes before the bodies, so keep a close eye on the baking process.
  • Remove the pastries to a cooling rack, and let cool completely before filling.
  • Take a swan body and use a very sharp (preferably serrated) knife to cut off the top horizontally.
  • Cut the removed top down the center lengthwise to make two wings.
  • Dollop or pipe a bit of filling into the body, insert head, and then add wings.
Maybe next time I'll exercise a little more control on my piping skills for skinnier, more curvier necks .
Swans populating the board, in all shapes and sizes.

Chantilly Cream Filling~

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners'  sugar


  • Using a pre -chilled mixing bowl and whisk( I used the bowl and attachment of my stand mixer), beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and continue to whisk just until soft peaks form. No overbeating.
Notes ~
I added in 2 more tablespoons of confectioner's sugar to the cream filling.

Once filled, place in the refrigerator to chill for a while. Because of the heat my perfectly piped filling turned a bit goopy. They just really needed to chill. Once assembled they are best eaten the same day or soon after.

 "And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us."1 John 5:14


  1. Adorable! I love that theirs "beaks" are darker and so swan-like :)

    1. Thanks Renata- Dark beaks resulted from the oversight of leaving them in the oven for maybe a bit longer than should.

  2. Your swans are so cute! Well done!

  3. I tried to post earlier, and the blogspot site was acting up, so if this ends up showing up twice I am sorry. I wanted to let you know how cute I think your swans are. They look as if they are taking flight. And I love how your husband seemed to almost wait impatiently for his swans! Great job!

    1. Thanks so much Kim. They are taking flight because the wings were going all over the place, especially with my wilting cream. Yes, Hubby got his fair fill, he's a happy man ;))

  4. It's one thing to be able to make a pate au choux, but your presentation is pure talent!

    1. Aww thanks so much Ellen- the instructions were just perfect and spot on :))

  5. You my friend are actually perfect in this :)

    Choc Chip Uru

    1. Thanks so much Ms. Uru, even if I feel the hint of exaggeration in the comment ;))

  6. Really cute swans Tisa! Am sure you had fun making them!

    1. Thank you Leena! It was fun making them, and more so eating them :))

  7. wow..they look so real,cutees..beautifully done!!
    Happy Onam to u & family too!!

    1. Thank you Julie. Happy Onam to you too, friend :)

  8. My kids were super excited about these too!
    they were glued to the oven door and even offered never to buy candy again if I make these every week! lol
    Beautiful job on this challenge Tisa and I love that last picture..they look almost like they are swimming in a sea of roses

    1. Thanks so much Sawsan! In my case it was hubby who asked to have them every week ;)) But that would be just great, having never to buy candy again- well done in converting those kiddies into pastry lovers instead ;-D


Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!