I told myself to have one gougère in order to celebrate. Celebrate what? The first, the inaugural post of French Fridays with Dorie (FFwD). An online club in which we will be cooking our way through Dorie Greenspan's new book, "Around My French Table." This is a large tome, newly published and filled with beautiful pictures and recipes of French home cooking, gathered by the author over her many years of living in France. I've been a fan of Dorie's ever since I tried her recipe for pâte brisée. The recipe was very good of course, but most impressive were her directions, which were clear and precise and full of hints on how to make a "successful" crust. By following those carefully written instructions, I was able to make a wonderful short pastry. Excuse me, it's time for gougère number two.
Delicious! Why not have one more? I'll stop at three. These teasingly-tasty, buttery spheres were chosen by Dorie herself as the first recipe to be made for FFwD.
Gougères are savory cheese puffs. They are closely associated with the Burgundy region of France, and the're famous all over the world. Gougères are made by heating milk and water, and then melting butter into the mixture. While the ingredients are still hot, flour is added and stirred to blend. The tricky part comes next. The mixture is moved over to the electric beater and eggs are added into it one at a time. Then the cheese is added. I chose to use cheddar and some Parmesan for that extra zing. It's important to beat the mixture very well in order to introduce air into it. The air, which will help to make steam, is the reason the puffs will rise while baking. Therefore, without vigorous beating the cheese puffs will remain flat.
The gougères are placed on trays lined with parchment and baked for 15 to 20 minutes. The dough is to be dropped with a spoon onto the parchment and formed into small, perfect mounds. Forming these little mounds required more dexterity than I possess, so some of my puffs came out misshaped. Other than that they were great. These little guys can be stored unbaked in the freezer and taken out to be baked as needed. They make great appetizers.
What a great beginning to FFwD. I'm looking forward to many, many more cooking adventures with recipes that come from Dorie's French table and find themselves on top of my Greek-American one.
Here is the recipe, based on the one by Dorie, which makes about 36 puffs:
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups grated cheese, such as a mixture of Gruyere and Cheddar
- Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 375° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Bring the milk, water, butter, and salt and pepper to a rapid boil over high heat in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan. Add the flour all at once, lower the heat to low and quickly start stirring energetically with a wooden spoon. The dough will come together and a light crust will form on the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring, with all your vim and vigor, for another 2 to 3 minutes to dry the dough. The dough should now be very smooth.
- Turn the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the eggs one by one and beat, beat, beat until the dough is thick and shiny. Don't be concerned if the dough falls apart - by the time the third egg goes in, the dough will come together again. Beat in the grated cheese. Once the dough is completed, it should be used immediately.
- Using about 1 tablespoon of dough for each gougère, drop the dough from a spoon onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of puff space between each mound of dough.
- Slide the baking sheets into the oven, bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the sheets from top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking until the puffs are golden and firm, another 10 to 15 minutes. Serve the gougère piping hot as soon as they come from the oven.
Keeping: You can shape the gougère and freeze them for up to 2 months before you bake them. There's no need to defrost the frozen puffs, just bake them a couple of minutes more.