Serves: Makes about 34
These little cheesy choux buns are delicious unfilled but the option of the devilled crab filling elevates them to sublime. The quantities for the filling are enough to fill half the gougères. Either double it to fill them all, or serve the rest au nature. Choux pastry is not difficult to master but practise most definitely makes perfect. Success lies in adding the egg: too little and the mixture is too stiff to get a decent rise but too much egg will make them soggy. I suggest you have an extra egg to hand just in case you need to add a tablespoon or two to get the perfect consistency. I’m with Delia on the flour issue. I think strong (bread) flour produces a better bun.
- For the choux pastry
- 155g strong plain flour
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 heaped teaspoon salt
- 115g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 4 (or 5-see intro) large eggs, beaten
- 115g grated Comté cheese
- 30g finely grated mature Cheddar cheese
- For the filling (optional)
- 280g cream cheese
- 225g crabmeat (brown and white-about 2 dressed crabs)
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2-3 pinches curry powder
- Splash of Tabasco sauce
- About 30 mini asparagus spears, blanched for 2 minutes and refreshed in cold water
- Line 2 baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment. Have the flour, mustard powder and salt weighed out in a bowl. Pour 225ml water into a saucepan with the butter and stir over a low heat until the butter melts. Don’t allow the liquid to boil at this point.
- When the butter has melted turn up the heat and bring the liquid to a rolling boil. Immediately take off the heat and beat in the flour mixture. Return the pan to a low heat and cook, stirring all the while, for 2 minutes. Tip the paste into a mixing bowl and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
- Heat the oven to 200˚c, fan oven 180˚c, mark 6. With an electric whisk beat in the eggs a tablespoon at a time until the mixture resembles a stiff cake batter. You may need to add extra egg if it feels a bit heavy. Beat in the Comté cheese.
- Spoon the choux pastry into a large piping bag and pipe out damson-sized balls, leaving at least 3-4 cm between each one. Sprinkle with the grated cheddar cheese and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until puffed up and evenly browned.
- Transfer the gougères to a wire rack and make a small hole in the base of each one which will allow the air to escape. Leave until cold. At this point you can put the gougères in a freezer bag or container and freeze them. Defrost at room temperature.
- For the filling, mix all the ingredients together apart from the asparagus spears. Split the gougères horizontally and either pipe or spoon in a teaspoon of crab filling. Place 2 asparagus spears on the filling with the ends poking out. Serve as soon as possible.