Cream puffs are always one of those desserts that impress everybody. It’s very French and, therefore, very sophisticated in the eyes of many. But the reality is that cream puffs are incredibly simple to make once you have a good recipe on hand. When I first started baking, I attempted my hand at cream puffs and was incredibly frustrated to end up with flat, pathetic looking pastry mounds. But that’s because no one told me that 1) never open the oven door while the cream puffs are baking, and 2) although pate a choux (the pastry dough for cream puffs) is technically a one-bowl (or more like one-pot) recipe, it doesn’t mean that the timing in which the ingredients are added doesn’t matter. Now, I know better, and the recipe I’m sharing with you today, whether you decide to go all out and do a Paris Brest (a wreath of cream puffs with custard filling) or simply create classic cream puffs, is a foolproof way of creating perfectly tall, full pastry puffs.
Before I share the recipe, I thought I’d share why this wreath of cream puffs is actually called a Paris Brest. The Paris Brest is one of the oldest bicycling events that spans a distance from Brest, France to Paris, France. To commemorate this event, the Paris Brest pastry was created in the shape of a wheel. The dessert can be made up of connected cream puffs in the shape of a wreath, or the pate a choux can simply be piped into a circlular shape (small or large) and baked like that; it doesn’t have to consist of pate a choux mounds that were individually piped and connected. Please make sure to follow the recipe details to a T, especially the directions concerning the pate a choux. It’s worth the attention because you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous cream puffs that are just as good as the ones in the Paris patisseries!