The Great Hall
Puff pastry question The Great Hall: Puff pastry question
By Gord on Monday, October 04, 1999 - 02:10 am: Edit

Forgive me if this is a patently rookie question. I have not made puff pastry before and tonight I entered the world of Pate au Choux. I want to play with it for making some appetizers; stuffing it with crabmeat, herbed cheeses or what have you (time will tell as I go on). The flavour and texture turned out as anticipated, however the puffs were these poor, unhappy misshapen beasts. My question: does one pipe the pastry into molds to control the overall shape of the final product? I am looking to achieve something fairly conical (as opposed to comical, which was the first batch) so I can stuff the large end. Or should I just be prepared to pipe out a few million of these things to develop the technique?Any help would be appreciated.


By W.DeBord on Monday, October 04, 1999 - 09:58 am: Edit

Putting it in molds doesn't work. Chefs pipe out Choux paste with pastry bags into the shape they desire. You can use any pastry tip or none in you bag, depending on what shape you want.

If you've never used a pastry bag it may take you a while to learn how to pipe a consistant amount, but I think you can learn this in a hour or so.

Practice squeezing with the same pressure for the same length of time on each puff. If the top where you ended lifts up into a tail you can lightly dampen your finger with h2o and press the tail down into the mound.

You need only one batch to practice with. Just scrape up the puffs that aren't shaped nicely and repipe that dough.

For the beginner it takes awhile to learn how much bigger they'll be after baking then the original piped size. Consistancy using a pastry bag is a skill that will grow with practice. You picked a dough that is very forgiving.

By W.DeBord on Monday, October 04, 1999 - 10:15 am: Edit

Just a quick note: Chefs often call Pate au Choux, Choux paste. It is different than Puff Pastry even though it does puff up when baked.

Puff pastry is layers of dough in a sheet form. Choux paste is a layerless dough. They are two different items.

Don't be shy if you don't know something like how to shape choux paste. You have to start somewhere. Also please don't take my correction personally. I'm just trying to help you by explaining there's a difference.

By Gord on Monday, October 04, 1999 - 05:08 pm: Edit

Thank you very much for your response AND for the correction. I would rather be kindly corrected here by you, than make an ass of myself elsewhere. Good tip on re-using the mutilated puffs. I had visions of dozens of batches of this stuff going to waste. I'd better get practising.

Thanks again.

By Chefdejon (Chefdejon) on Tuesday, October 05, 1999 - 09:55 am: Edit

choux paste is very hard to "mold" into a specific shape, as you usally bake it on trays so you always have at least one flat surface...and then it will only double to quadrple in size so hight is out unless you stack them.Like a croqen bush. You can deep fry choux but with little control over shape :( you can also make a french version of gnocchi with it.

By Gord on Tuesday, October 05, 1999 - 10:55 am: Edit

W. DeBord
Practised with the Choux paste again last night and got much closer to the desired shape. I had to refill the bag a few times but, thanks to your tip, didn't have to make a fresh batch each time.

As Chefdejon pointed out, there is that flat side. Given what I'm trying to do, and would like to have something more like a cone, can either of you (or anyone else here for that matter) recommend an alternative medium for stuffing. I can live with something less forgiving to work with if the I can achieve the desired results.

Thanks again,


By Morgane on Tuesday, October 05, 1999 - 02:16 pm: Edit


You could mount the round choux into a cone like a croquembouche. If that doesn't work for you maybe you should think of another dough. At this point it is hard to give advice since I do not have much details.

Good luck


By W.DeBord on Tuesday, October 05, 1999 - 08:03 pm: Edit

Why do you want a cone shape? Do you want the Choux to hold more filling or you desire that shape? Are you scraping out the extra choux paste in the center of your puff?

Other things that hold savory fillings: crepes plain or herbed, puff pastry shells, tart shells, pies, phyllo cups or purses???

Sweet shells: cannolli, tart, chocolate, cookie such as rolled pizzelles or tuiles, florentine cookies, crepes you can flavor them, puff pastry shells, phyllo cups or purses.

Cone shaped only: wrap puff pastry around cone molds, phyllo around cone, or many cookies will wrap around a cone shape.

Does this help????? Can you clarify what your desired result is?

By Gord on Tuesday, October 05, 1999 - 11:32 pm: Edit

W. DeBord
What I have in mind:
A cone about 2.5-3" long. Large opening is 1-1.25" inside diam., closed end can be blunt or rounded, but conical overall for tray placement. Stuff with various things: crabmeat, lobster, herbed cheeses, smoked salmon, perhaps pate. I see a two-bite appetizer. The cone material to be something that provides light resistance before breaking through to the filling without dominating the texture or taste of the filling. The material would not be bready, too chewy, or explosively flaky. Preferably it withstands being filled and chilled 2-3 hours or more (Choux paste may not give me that). So that's my vision, as best I can explain it. I can see it and imagine the texture (heck, I can almost taste it) but I'm not sure I can explain it better than this. I'll try your suggested puff pastry with cone molds.
Any other suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you once again.


By W.DeBord on Wednesday, October 06, 1999 - 08:28 am: Edit

Boy you may be asking for more than you realize. If I were you I'd make them out of either crepes, phyllo or cannolli dough. Do you know that these won't be as easy to mass produce and fill as other shells? They also may be more fragile and prone to leaks. Do you own the forms and realize there's alot of hand work involved?

You sound knowledgable so I'm not going to talk you out of this. I personally wouldn't go this route.

The puff pastry may not be what your looking for. It has alot of flake and volume, it can distract from your fillings. I'd probably try the phyllo first, it the least work. I'd wrap it four thicknesses around the horn to start and see how it holds.

I'd be interested in learning what you went with. Come back here and share, O.K.?

By Gord on Wednesday, October 06, 1999 - 05:16 pm: Edit

Will do! Thanks for the encouragement and wish me luck.


By Chef Sixtow on Tuesday, October 12, 1999 - 11:01 pm: Edit

I have had much success with making the choux paste with a chix or beef stock instead of water and mixing main ingredients right into the paste and scooping on to sheet pans and bake or dropping in fryer. I made some gorgonzola and pecan puffs and they came out great. Maybe try little batches with dfferent ingredients and find what works best for you.
Chef Sixtow

By mscherz on Monday, November 08, 1999 - 04:39 pm: Edit

Have you considered tuiles or hippenmasse? You can do a parmesan tuile and wrap it around a cone. Most cracker breads are pliable immediately after removing from the oven. Just a few suggestions

By luke on Wednesday, December 01, 1999 - 07:28 am: Edit

have you considered a roll of some description like a peking duck type pancake (mandarin pan cake ) we have made these on meny ocasions and they look and taste good or a pita pread or lavosh roll

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, December 01, 1999 - 08:47 am: Edit

I would stick with the pate au choux. Try holding the bag horizontal to the pan, pipe the choux towards you instead of up, instead of breaking off drag the bag to get your conicle shape. I've done these plenty of times, just like you are trying to do for the same type of fillings. if you let them harden a little you extend your holding time. they present well and best of all the don't roll!! enhance your choux with stock, cheese,etc,

By Gord (Gord) on Wednesday, December 01, 1999 - 02:09 pm: Edit


Thank you all for your suggestions. The variety is overwhelming and I'm going to make a point of trying as many of them as I can (as time permits) over the next couple of months. Sounds like each one will present it's own interesting characteristics and I'm looking forward to the results.

Thanks again,


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