Monday, 18 January 2010

Gougères

 At this time of year when you are snowed in, like we have been for the last week, I use the time to try out new recipes and in particular to try and perfect local dishes. The French are big on cheese in all regions but we in Burgundy sadly only have two AOC cheeses, so it is a bit strange that one of the most popular local delicacies is in fact a cheese choux pastry recipe called Gougère.

At an apératif evening the other day I got talking to the local ladies about these lovely little tasty morsels and I ended up with a host of different recipes, handed down from Grand Mère - bien sûr! I've pulled together the essence of all these recipes and here is the result which works quite well I must say.

60ml water
200ml milk
80g butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
140g flour
4 eggs
180g grated cheese (Gruyère is the best)

Heat the milk, water and butter in saucepan gently stirring until the butter is melted and the mixture just comes to the boil. Add salt and pepper and all the flour and stir vigorously until the dough is smooth and comes together in a ball then remove from the heat and allow to rest for a couple of minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time (most important) and mix them in quickly, the mixture does look a bit curdled but it will be OK. Make sure each egg is fully mixed in before adding the next one. You can do this in a food processor, but it is relatively easy by hand. Let the dough (and your arm) rest for about 5 minutes. Add half to two thirds of the cheese and stir it in. Let the dough rest again, this time in the fridge, for about 1 hour. I am told it can be kept covered, at this point, for up to 3 days.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Put rounded teaspoonfuls of the dough on grease-proof baking sheets or baking sheets covered in baking paper. To make more “professional” but boringly uniform gougères, you can use a pastry bag or plastic bag with the corner cut off to pipe the dough on to the baking sheet. Scatter with the remaining cheese and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. They should be golden brown.

Homemade gougères are best served warm, and if you are making them in advance, you either prepare them and cook right before your guests arrive, or you can reheat them in a low oven for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Some people stuff them with cream cheese mixtures, prawns or salmon just to add a bit extra, but I find that homemade ones go soggy if left stuffed and uneaten for too long. So give it a go and just eat them warm, straight from the oven. Bon appétit!

La Tuilerie Website

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