Gougères, little domes of cheese-flavoured choux pastry, are a classic accompaniment for a glass or two of wine. Offering them to guests makes it seem that you’ve gone to a lot of trouble — and you have. But the actual processes involved are quite straightforward. I got this recipe from a professional chef on the choux pastry course I went on recently. Unusually, it includes crumbled roquefort as well as gruyère. It’s a good addition — it gives them an extra sharp tang, while the “blueness” is undetectable.
This recipe makes a lot of gougères — about 40. You could always halve it but a) they are very moreish, and b) they freeze pretty well. Just pop the frozen gougères in a pre-heated oven for 5-10 minutes and they will be as good as new. They are best still just warm, but if you’ve prepared them in advance (without freezing) you can again crisp them up briefly in the oven before serving. Or, if you don’t want that many gougères, split the dough in half before adding the cheese and use half to make profiteroles, choux à la crème, or chouquettes.
250 g water
5 g salt
100 g unsalted butter
180 g plain flour
260 g eggs (unshelled weight) — equivalent to about 5 eggs
100 g gruyère or comté cheese, grated — plus a little extra for the tops
80 g crumbled roquefort
This is a recipe where it’s best to do a mise en place and weigh out all the ingredients before starting. It’s easiest to use a stand mixer but you can of course do them by hand — just be aware there’s a lot of vigorous beating required.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the water, salt and butter in a pan and bring to the boil so that the butter is melted. Remove from the heat, tip in the flour all at once, and use a spatula to stir vigorously until there’s no dry flour. Return to a moderate heat and continue to beat vigorously to dry out the paste. After a few minutes it will become smoother and stick together in a ball, coming away from the sides of the pan.
Tip the dough into the bowl of the mixer and let it cool for 5-10 minutes. Beat the eggs in a jug. Using the paddle of the mixer at fairly high speed, beat the eggs into the paste a little at a time, making sure each is absorbed before adding the next bit. It will change from a lumpy mess to a glossy smooth paste with a “dropping” consistency — i.e. if you scoop some up with the spatula it will stick briefly before falling off. If it’s too stiff you will need a little more egg.
Once it’s the right consistency, add the two cheeses and beat briefly to incorporate. Prepare a large baking sheet (or two if you have them — if you don’t, you’ll just have to do two batches). Cover it with baking parchment and (pro tip) use a little dab of choux paste on the underside of each corner to stick it to the sheet and stop it sliding around.
You can shape the gougères with two teaspoons, but it’s quicker and tidier to use a piping bag. Scoop the paste into the bag, cut off the tip, and pipe blobs about the size of walnuts onto the tray. Sprinkle a little grated cheese on top of each one. Then bake for about 15 minutes until they are puffy and golden. Cool on a wire tray.