French gougères by Marine Letort

With time, cooking has become second nature to me. From early on, I have enjoyed watching my grandmother and my mum cook. I have learned French techniques from them and a respect for seasonal ingredients. I spend a lot of time trying new recipes and testing them on family and friends. Gougères is one of my favourites!

A gougère, in French cuisine, is a baked savory choux pastry made of choux dough mixed with cheese. It can be served as an aperitif or as a side dish with a salad. There are many variants.

The magic of this bland dough is that you can perfume it by changing the water with wine, bouillon, milk, orange juice, almost anything you can imagine. You can also add dry fruit to the dough, or fill your choux, once cooked, with any kind of creamy filling!

Gougères recipe

Preparation:15 min

Cooking: 20-30min

Ingredients for 30 gougères

125ml of water

125ml milk

1 pinch of salt

100 g butter

150 g flour

4 eggs (+1 for the egg wash)

150g grated Comté cheese

Preheat your oven to 200 °c (or 180°c for slightly softer outer shell, the way we like at home).

1. Add water and milk with salt and butter broken into small pieces . Bring to a boil. The butter should be completely melted by the time the water comes to a boil but don’t let it over boil to avoid the evaporation of the liquid.

2. After boiling, turn off the heat and add the flour all at once. Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until completely incorporated, making sure all the flour is worked into the dough and no dry flour remains. Lower to medium heat and stir for a good minute or two to dry the dough. Some starchy build up on the bottom of the pan is normal.

3. Pour the dough, off the heat, into a bowl and let it cool down. It should be cool enough so that the eggs don’t cook when added to the dough.

4. Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl and filter them with a small drainer. Separate the egg into 4 portions. Add one portion of egg to the dough at a time and mix slowly with a wooden spoon.

Don’t worry if your dough becomes stringy and goopy at first. After the third addition of egg, check the dough before adding the fourth. It should be soft, glossy and very slowly hang, stretch and fall from the spoon in a thick ribbon. Add the fourth addition if needed.

It should be soft, glossy and very slowly hang, stretch and fall from the spoon in a thick ribbon.

The choux pastry is ready for any use now!

5. For the gougères, add the shredded Comté to the batter and stir in well.

6. Scoop the dough out onto the baking tray making small mounds with a spoon. You can either grease your metal tray or lay them on parchment paper. For 30 gougères, I normally prepare 2 trays. You can also transfer the dough to a piping bag to pipe specific shapes. Leave enough space between each mound and lay them in a staggered arrangement.

7. Brush the tops of the puffs with an egg wash.

8 Put them in the oven and cook about 20-30 min. Remove from the oven as soon as you see that the gougères are golden. Don’t forget to leave the door open for one minute before removing the tray to let the steam out.

Serve as an aperitif or as a side dish with a salad.

Keep in mind that the choux pastry is made of 4 simple ingredients with the rule of 1-4-6-16 (1 liter of liquid/400g butter/600g flour/16 eggs).

My first memory with choux pastry is of the chouquettes (French cream puffs) that we got at the bakery shop in paper bag. The bag was often empty before we arrived home and we grabbed the remaining pearl sugar at the bottom of the bag with ours fingers.

Now, I will cook a huge batch for the family, but it’s never enough…

Marine Letort, EatUniQ homechef

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