choux [2020]

An unconventional method with a touch of my, so missed, Grandmother Quinn!

My Grandmother Quinn was extremely influential on my life, she drummed into me “a woman must always have her own money” and I only forgot once to my detriment. She also drummed into me “a woman can be anything she wants.” Irene Quinn was unusual for her time, but my Great Grandfather Richard Marshall was equally unusual, determined that his two daughters were financially secure and independent. What especially marked this grandmother was that she had polio as a young woman, and although she must have suffered incredibly, in her long life I never heard her complain once. The September school holidays were spent with Grandma and Grandpa Quinn where she deftly managed the many acrimonious challenges of the cousins Monopoly championship. Quinnie died at least 20 years ago and I still miss her every day.

Afternoon tea was big in our family. Grandma Quinn made the most amazing cream puffs and I was astonished to discover her secret when I inherited her handwritten cookbooks and saw a small amount of self-raising flour in her choux recipe. I had to laugh! Grandma Quinn had generously shared all recipes but this one.

When she died at 96 I was touched to the point of tears, when going through her personal items, to find a photo of me after having received ‘the best chef’ award from the Adelaide Advertiser in 1989. Funnily enough I had forgotten what a fabulous day that had been and how glamorous we all were. The daily grind of a restaurant has no glamour. The award day started with Champagne with Lew Kathreptis, then chef with his mother Zeffie of the iconic Adelaide Restaurant Mezzez. It finished at dawn the next day when we were all on our way to work with a bunch of equally trashed workmates.

I need to

I need to explain I am not a lover of the Kitchenmaid…I have a Kenwood Major that is 40 years old that the genius Andrew Harvey has repaired a few times in that time. Andrew also changed the attachment socket to the modern version. This machine is still going strong. I also have a modern Kenwood Major that it about five years old and to be fair it is not as touch as the 40-year-old machine. One of the reasons being that the gears are no longer metal. The great thing about the Kenwood is that as long as you don’t overload it and keep an eye on how warm the motor is it will not cut out. Plus the unit opens to cool it down. I especially love the newish attachment Creaming Beater it’s just genius. I have two bowls a stainless-steel bowl and a plastic bowl [at least 20 years old] that is brilliant in the microwave.
AO food editor and publisher
14 October 2020

if you OBEY

essential equipment
microwave safe Kenwood bowl
Kenwood creaming beater or k-beater

a general tip
Pastry needs a clean oven. A dirty oven the baking will colour before it is cooked and in a really dirty oven it will additionally taste terrible. Every time I use my oven, while it is still a little warm, I wipe it out internally and all the racks with ‘barbecue wipes’ that are available from most hardware stores. If you cook a pork belly you’ll probably need to properly clean your oven.

100g unsalted butter
300g filtered water
100g Wallaby Baker’s flour
75g self-raising flour
5 x 61g room temperature or warmed whole eggs


choux can be challenging

but the results
are so so good

Weigh the butter and water into the bowl. Bring to a rapid boil on high in a microwave…2-3 minutes.

WITHOUT DELAY using the beater IMMEDIATELY add the flour and work in…see image.

Set a timer for 30 minutes. When the timer goes work the eggs in one at a time, never adding another egg until the previous is properly worked in.

Now choose a pastry nozzle, fit it into a piping bag and make the choice. You can use and Ikea bag clamp and refrigerate it until tomorrow or pipe onto baking sheets covered with baking paper or silicon baking mats.

to cook
pre heat oven to 180°C
DO NOT open the oven door for at least 20 minutes for small 30 for large puffs. IF YOU OPEN THE OVEN DOOR they will pancake, and you’ll need to start again.

Cook for about 30 minutes for small [canapé size] and 40 for larger. Cool on wire racks….use on the day…you may like to cut them open and return them to the oven for a few minutes to crisp.

They freeze well and equally they keep well with silica gel sachets for a couple of days. They will still require a brief re-crisp.

Choux is so versatile sweet or savoury and when talking numbers so handy because they are universally loved. My favourites coffee eclairs or Grandma Quinn’s vanilla whipped cream and home-made raspberry jam. On the savoury side…too many to choose one but we’ll be following up with plenty of savoury filling recipes.