by Chef Denise Marchessault
“If I have a signature appetizer, it is gougères — an irresistibly light French pastry, made with Gruyère cheese. I’ve made thousands, maybe more. I serve them warm at the start of each cooking class, filling the kitchen with the enticing aroma of freshly baked pastry. I’m convinced it was the warm gougères that bring my students back for more.”
1 cup 2% or whole milk
1 cup water
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 – 5 eggs, plus 1 egg for the glaze
1 cup Gruyère cheese (more or less, if desired)
Preheat oven to 425ºF
In a large saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter, salt and sugar. Bring the mixture to a full boil. Remove from the heat, and add the flour all at once; stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
If using an electric mixer, transfer the dough to the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (If mixing by hand, use a wooden spoon). Add four eggs to the dough, one at a time, ensuring each egg is absorbed before adding another.
The mixture is ready when the dough forms a thick ribbon that is firm enough to be dropped from a spoon (or piped with a pastry bag) onto a baking sheet. If the mixture is too firm, add another egg. Add the grated cheese.
Place the dough in a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip. Pipe round mounds approx. 2 cm (¾”) diameter onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving an inch or two between each mound. (If not using a pastry bag, simply spoon the dough onto the baking sheet.)
Brush the top of each mound with the beaten egg and gently press down with a fork. Set aside for 15 minutes before baking.
Bake for 10 minutes then reduce the temperature to 350ºF (175ºC) and bake for another 15–25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Test one gougère to ensure it is cooked in the centre. If the mixture is cooked on the outside, but not the inside, turn the oven off and leave the pastries until cooked all the way through.
To find out more about what Denise is up to, keep an eye out for her classes with us here, be the first to know about the launch of her upcoming cookbook British Columbia from Scratch over on her website, and what she’s cooking over on her Instagram.