Gluten Free Eclairs: What Is Pate a Choux Anyway?

Today’s topic may be a bit unfamiliar to you. Pate a Choux is just not one of those topics that comes up in conversation frequently, even amongst those who like to cook. So, let me start off by giving you a point of reference.

Have you ever had an eclair? Have you ever longingly looked at a display case of eclairs and wished you could have one? Well, good news. Pate a choux is the dough that eclairs are made from, and you can easily make gluten free pate a choux (and gluten free eclairs) in your home.

And, eclairs are just the start. Do you need to make gluten free hors d’oeuvres? You can make little pastry boats from pate a choux and fill them with all sorts of yummy toppings.

Profiteroles – a fancy name for an ice cream sandwich – are made from pate a choux too. And these as just the usual applications. I think you’ll probably come up with lots fun recipes using pate a choux once you’ve made it in your own kitchen.

The Pate a Choux ratio:

The basic ratio for pate a choux is as follows:

2 parts water
1 part fat
1 part flour
2 parts egg

Isn’t it amazing how many different foods you can make from flour, water, fat, and eggs! In this recipe, the eggs and water are the main ingredients. The eggs and flour create the structure; the water provides the steam that puffs up the baked pate a choux, and the fat provides richness.

The ratio above is the wheat flour ratio, and it worked perfectly for gluten free pate a choux when I started with my gluten free flour mix and added no xanthan gum.

My gluten free flour mix is more absorbent than most GF flour mixes, due to the small amount of masa harina that I include, so this ratio would very likely NOT work using a different gluten free flour mix.

If you can’t use my flour mix because you need gluten free, corn free, then I’d use coconut flour, rather than the masa harina, for sweet recipes like eclairs. (The coconut flavor in coconut flour is strong, so it’s not always welcome in savory recipes.)

Make the pate a choux with the coconut flour substitution to see what the consistency of the dough should be. Then you can experiment with a savory pate a choux using a gluten free, corn free flour mix and reducing the amount of water in the recipe.

Below is the basic Pate a Choux recipe. I doubled this the other night and made long “baguettes” that we used for breakfast sandwiches the next morning. I also made a few small golf ball sized puffs that would have been the perfect size for a large cream puff or a small profiterole. If you just want to play around with this, you could even cut this recipe in half

Gluten Free Pate a Choux:

8 oz. water
4 oz. butter (or dairy-free baking stick, or coconut oil, etc)
1/8 – 1/2 tsp. salt (more for savory applications, less for sweet)

1 Tbsp. sugar (for sweet applications)
4 oz of my gluten free flour mix
8 oz. eggs (4 large)

Combine the water, butter, salt and sugar (optional) in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over high heat. Turn the heat back to medium and stir in the flour; be sure to stir rapidly. The liquids and flour will turn into a dough rather quickly; keep stirring over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and run cold water over the base of the pan to cool the pan off (don’t get the dough wet).

Add one egg at a time, stirring each one into the dough quickly. As you add each egg you’ll probably notice that the dough doesn’t want to accept the egg easily; keep stirring and the egg will work its way into the dough – then add the next egg and so on and so forth.

Scoop the paste into a pastry bag or zip-top bag with one corner snipped off. Pipe out the pate a choux in to the desired shape. Bake in a preheated 425 F oven for 10 minutes, then turn the heat back to 350 and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

– Mary Frances