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Cream Puffs I:

1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup salted butter
1 cup pastry flour*, sifted
3 eggs

Cream Puffs II:

1 cup boiling water
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup all purpose flour
4 large eggs

Cream puffs are a very light and delicate and hollow pastry of French origin. Although they are a simple bakery staple to prepare, a certain procedure needs to be followed for success.

Sift the flour so that there are no lumps.

In a saucepan, bring water and butter to the boiling point. Add the flour, all at one time, and stir briskly using a heavy wooden spoon, stirring constantly and in a circle until the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan and form a ball. The mixture will become smooth, leaving the sides of the pan clean.

Stir over low heat to dry the mixture for 2 or 3 minutes. The mixture will lose its stickiness. Add the unbeaten eggs, one at a time, beating each egg in thoroughly before adding the next egg. The mixture should be smooth and shiny. (Note: This may be transferred to a bowl, cooled for 3 or 4 minutes, then beaten using a hand mixer.)

Drop by large spoonfuls onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet (or use a large pastry bag with a plain nozzle to pipe the mixture).

Bake in a preheated 400F oven for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool slowly. (You can leave them in the hot oven with the door open for a few minutes).

When cool, use a very sharp knife to slice off the tops and fill with pudding, vanilla pastry cream, ice cream, flavored whipped cream, etc. Top with fruit sauce or drizzle with honey, melted chocolate or chocolate curls.

These same recipes can be used to make eclairs; the only difference is in the shape that is piped onto the baking sheet.

*Pastry flour is a flour made from softer (or lower protein) wheat than all-purpose flour and is useful in making products in which gluten development is not desirable, such as cookies and pastries. Gluten is the protein in flour that gives breads their "chewy" quality.

If pastry flour is not available, you can make a reasonable substitute by combining 1/2 cup cake flour with 1/2 cup bread flour or 1/4 cup cake flour with 3/4 cup all-purpose flour for use in this recipe.

Submitted by: CM
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