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Piping the Perfect Puff


Kerry Beal
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In my thermomix I can whip up a perfect batch of Pichet Ong's Pate Choux in less than 15 minutes start to finish. The problem begins when I'm ready to pipe the paste onto parchment for baking.

The first batch I made looked like little Michelin men after piping, and in the oven had a tendency to lean in odd directions and not dry out as well as I hoped. A second batch this morning was better, I just piped single blobs. They turned out way too small, however were closer to the appearance I am after and dried out nicely with a good hollow center for filling.

I'm sure that every pastry apprentice is probably taught the secrets of how to pipe paste to perfection and I wonder if anyone out there would share their secrets with me. I'm not ready for swans yet, but simple puff technique as well as eclair directions would be wonderful.

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I know how to do it, I've piped 1000's, but not sure how to explain it.

I have found that making sure the piping bag is not too full, or at least twist it at a half way point so there is more control helps greatly. Also, pipe holding the bag straight up, then pipe the size you want. Right before pulling away, give a quick little twist and that will make the top flat and help avoid having to go a back with a wet finger to smooth it.

Eclairs, never been really good at those, but I was taught to pipe a straight line, then when letting got, instead of pulling forward, to push back toward it. Seems to work, not sure why.

Also, sometimes it's the recipe. I have had a few come out like "Michelin Men", and others not so much. I have one recipe I've used for a long time, and it does well. Even with people piping that don't really have that much skill at it.

Hope some of that made sense :blush:

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I pipe my eclairs the same way RWood does.

As a cake artist, the easiest way I can teach you to pipe puffs is to share this short tutorial on piping dots, from the Wilton Industries website. The concept is the same, just use a larger tip.

http://www.wilton.com/technique/Dots

Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions about piping techniques.

Theresa :smile:

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

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but I was taught to pipe a straight line, then when letting got, instead of pulling forward, to push back toward it. [/quote}]

I think of it as the little push you'd give something you just dipped into chocolate when placing it down, so as to avoid a foot....

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When my mom used to make "cream puffs" she would just use two teaspoons to form them. I have used spring loaded scoops (dishers) and I have piped using a pastry bag. The scooped ones are easier, although I suppose they might not look like what they are "supposed" to look like. Does anyone have a photo of what a perfect puff should be?

Here's what the scooped ones end up looking like:

P1020283.JPG

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When my mom used to make "cream puffs" she would just use two teaspoons to form them. I have used spring loaded scoops (dishers) and I have piped using a pastry bag. The scooped ones are easier, although I suppose they might not look like what they are "supposed" to look like. Does anyone have a photo of what a perfect puff should be?

Here's what the scooped ones end up looking like:

P1020283.JPG

Those do look pretty perfect - I do have several sizes of dishers that I could use.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I think the most important thing I learnt about choux pastry is that since it puffs mostly in a vertical direction you need to pipe really quite flat shapes. And then flatten them further when glazing. A really spherical choux bun comes out of raw pastry that looks like a flat pebble.

The very flat looking objects in this photo

temp2.JPG

turn out like this:

temp3.jpg

I did a little post on piping choux here. I think glazing is really important to even up any irregularities for regular cooking.

As for the nitty gritty technique of piping, the nasty bit is getting the nozzle away cleanly. This is a really tricky technique which cannot easily be described in words. When I was at pastry school we practised piping choux pastry more than anything else because it's a really knack that only comes with hands on experience. And when we weren't working with real pastry there was a large tub of margarine which we used to practise piping eclairs, salambos, choux and so on. Piping margarine is rather similar to choux pastry but rank and greasy and one of the most unpleasant things imaginable.

The most important thing I can think of to say, since it is somewhat counter intuitive, is to keep the nozzle just IN the pastry that has just been piped. To remove the nozzle cleanly you want to give a little kick away from you. Because the nozzle is still in contact with the piped pastry it cuts cleanly across.

temp.JPG

Hopefully you can see the eclairs in this photo (which I must admit is not the finest demonstration of piping). The photo is the same as the one above but before glazing. The eclair nearest the camera shows the angle at which the nozzle was kicked back along the length of the eclair to get a clean finish.

Another important point for decent piping is how viscous your pastry is. I prefer quite a pastry on the runnier side which makes it much easier to terminate piping.

I hope that might help a little.

===================================================

I kept a blog during my pâtisserie training in France: Candid Cake

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