Beyond pies and tarts lies a whole range of pastries made with specialized doughs: egg-rich cream puff pastry, flaky puff pastry, and tissue-thin phyllo. Each has its own special techniques and corresponding recipes, covered in this chapter. Cream puff pastry must be made from scratch. While puff pastry can be purchased frozen, the recipe for Quick Puff Pastry in our archives, yields quick and easy results. Packaged phyllo dough is very good and widely available.
In the oven, moisture-rich cream puff dough inflates into crisp shells with tender interiors. Whether formed into large or small rounds or into elongated éclairs, they make perfect edible containers for pastry cream, whipped cream, mousse, or any number of savory fillings.
Making Cream Puff Dough
After the liquid comes to a boil, add flour all at once and stir vigorously until dough forms a ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Stirring in the Eggs
Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition for 1 to 2 minutes. The mixture will look lumpy at first, but after the last egg is beaten in, it will become thick, shiny, and silky as shown.
Shaping Cream Puffs
Scoop up some dough with a tablespoon. Use another spoon to push off the dough in a mound onto the baking sheet. Leave 3 inches between the puffs for expansion.
Hollowing Out Cream Puffs
Let the baked cream puffs cool on a rack. Slice off the tops (or cut in half). With a fork, gently scrape out any soft, moist dough. Work carefully so that you don’t puncture the crust.