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Gluten Free Gougères (French Cheese Puffs)


TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 15 MINS

SERVINGS: 24


INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 US large/UK medium eggs, room temperature

  • 1 US large/UK medium egg white, room temperature

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • 50 g (3 ½ tbsp) whole milk

  • 50 g (3 ½ tbsp) water

  • 45 g (⅓ stick + 1 tbsp) unsalted butter

  • 50 g (⅓ cup + 1 ½ tbsp) plain gluten free flour blend

  • 1 tsp xanthan gum



METHOD:

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, pre-heat the oven to 450ºF (230ºC) and line two large baking sheets with parchment/baking paper.

Making the choux pastry:

  1. In a measuring jug or similar, whisk the eggs, egg white and salt until fully combined. Set aside until needed. Tip 1: You’ll notice that due to the presence of salt, the egg mixture will become runnier and less viscous. That's perfectly okay and to be expected. Tip 2: Mixing the salt in with the eggs improves the structure of the gougères, ensuring that they bake up airy and filled with large holes. It also makes them less prone to collapsing and deflating. So, don’t add the salt to your water-milk mixture or to the dry ingredients: mix it in with the eggs.

  2. In a saucepan, heat the milk, water and butter over medium heat until the butter is fully melted and the mixture only just comes to a boil.

  3. In a bowl, whisk together the gluten free flour blend and xanthan gum until well combined.

  4. Pour the hot milk mixture into the dry ingredients in 3-4 batches, mixing well after each addition (with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula, you can also use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters). After each addition, you want to get the batter as smooth as possible, without too many clumps. The final batter should have the appearance of a smooth paste. Tip: Because gluten free flour absorbs more moisture than wheat flour, and does so quicker, the standard choux making method of putting all the flour into the hot milk mixture at once doesn't work very well here. It would result in an irregular batter with lots of clumps. This alternative method, where you slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the dry ingredients, works far better. It gives a smooth batter with few or no clumps at all.

  5. Transfer the batter into the saucepan that you used to heat the milk mixture (no need to clean it in between) and cook the batter over medium heat with constant stirring until it comes together in a ball, about 1-2 minutes. This is called a ‘panade’.

  6. For the following steps, I recommend using either a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer fitted with the double beaters. You could do it by hand, but it will take longer and your choux pastry might not end up as smooth.

  7. Transfer the panade back into the bowl and mix for 30-60 seconds, allowing it to cool slightly (so it doesn’t cook the eggs).

  8. Add the whisked eggs to the panade in 4-5 batches, whisking well after each addition until the eggs have been fully incorporated. The final batter should be smooth and glossy, and of a thick but spoonable/pipeable consistency. Tip: If you want to have better, more precise control over the choux pastry consistency, you can finish the batter by hand after the final addition of the eggs (use a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon). Tip: In all of my tests, the amount of eggs listed in the recipe is sufficient to make the perfect gluten free choux pastry. If you’re using a gluten free flour blend with a higher water absorption capacity (that is, one that absorbs more liquid), you might need to add up to 1/2 egg extra. (Whisk it well before adding.)

  9. Add 80g (about ¾ cup) of the grated cheese into the choux pastry and mix well until combined.

Assembling the gougères:

  1. Transfer the choux pastry into a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle. Tip: Alternatively, just cut off the end of the piping bag and use it without a nozzle.

  2. Pipe dollops of the choux pastry onto one of the lined baking sheets. The dollops should be roughly 1 ½ inches (4cm) wide and 1 ½ inches (4cm) tall – about the size of a larger cherry tomato. Make sure to space them out by about 1 inch (2.5 cm), as they will expand and inflate during baking.

  3. Dip your finger in a bit of water and use it to smooth down the tops of the piped gougères. You can also correct any misshapen gougères at this point.

  4. Sprinkle each gougère with some of the leftover grated cheese. Tip: In addition to adding more flavour, this extra sprinkling of cheese also helps the gougères maintain a round shape in the oven – it essentially acts in a similar manner to craquelin.

Baking the gougères:

  1. Place the baking sheet with the gougères into the oven (that's been pre-heated to 450ºF/230ºC) and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 340ºF (170ºC).

  2. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until deep golden brown and crisp to the touch. Don't open the oven door while the gougères are baking.

  3. Once the first baking sheet is done, heat the oven again to 450ºF (230ºC) and repeat the process (piping, sprinkling with cheese, baking) with the second baking sheet of gougères.

  4. When the gougères come out of the oven, use a toothpick or a thin, sharp knife to make a hole on the side of each gougère – this will allow any steam to escape from inside the gougères and prevent them from becoming soft and deflating.

  5. Serve the gougères either warm or at room temperature. You can serve them as is, or filled with a filling of your choice.

Storage:

  1. The gougères are best on the day of baking, preferably eaten within a few hours of being baked.

  2. You can store the gougères in an airtight container. They will soften, but you can re-crisp them by placing them into a 350ºF (180ºC) oven for 6-8 minutes.

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