Gougères Recipe & Guide
This post was prepared by Chef Mary Evans.
I lead food and wine tours to France every September along with my business partner Hallie Harron, and gougères are always a hit when we make them with our groups. These little, cheesy puffs—a savory, mini version of cream puffs—perfectly complement the Côtes du Rhône wine from any of the vineyard stops we’ve made along the way.
Besides being incredibly tasty, they’re a great teaching tool, with just enough technique to make them worthwhile subjects. One of the things we stress in France is the importance of weighing ingredients in baking, something the Europeans do naturally. With my American students here and abroad, it’s one of my main talking points. If you want accurate and excellent results, use an accurate, excellent scale. I use Escali.
Recently, one set of tour group participants got together for a reunion over dinner—from recipes they’d learned in France—and I volunteered to bring the gougères.
I wanted to perfect my recipe a bit and this was just the time to work at seeing what I could do better.
I decided to focus on getting the recipe down using metric measurements. There are countless versions of gougères using cup measurements (volume) but that’s why these puffs are occasionally soggy or, inversely, over-dry. So, I gathered up my ingredients and Escali scale and set to work using a recipe from my French files as a base.
- 150 grams all-purpose flour
- 25 cl water
- 80 grams butter
- ½ teaspoon salt (no need to weigh the seasonings)
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- Pinch nutmeg
- 4 large eggs (115 to 120 grams)
- 100 grams finely shredded Gruyère or Emmentaler (Swiss) cheese
I got out two baking pans and lined them with parchment paper and heated my oven to 425°F.
I measured out 150 grams of flour, to make sure that my end result would be the way I wanted.
Next, I brought my water, butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg to a full boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, making sure the butter was fully melted. This is important. The recipe does not turn out if you do not get everything boiling and melted.
At this point, I stirred in the flour all at once, continuing to stir until the mixture came together into a ball about the consistency of playdough. Over low heat, I cooked the mixture for a couple of minutes more, still stirring, to dry it out a bit. Then I let it cool off heat for about 5 minutes.
At this point, I decided I needed to be more scientific about my eggs. Almost every well written recipe for gougères calls for a range of eggs, usually from 3 to 4, and tells you to beat in the first three eggs, one at a time, and then add as much of the fourth as necessary to make a dough that is soft but still firm enough to hold its shape—a tricky thing to decipher for even the best of cooks.
I remembered that when I went to the professional baking school LeNôtre in France, we weighed our eggs and thought that might help here too. I did a bit of research on eggs and discovered that the sizing of eggs is determined by the weight of a dozen, so there can be a fair amount of discrepancy for the individual eggs within a carton. According to one of my nutrition guides, a large, shelled egg should weigh 50 grams but mine consistently weighed more.
Since I’ve made a lot of gougères over the years, I know what the dough should look like but I decided I’d try for a weight that would produce the best results and came up with a range of 115 to 120 grams for 4 large eggs.
So, setting the tare to compensate for my bowl, I weighed my first egg and beat it in until it was fully incorporated.
I did the same with the next two and then, after weighing the last egg, I whisked it to allow me to tip out a bit of excess egg before beating it into the mixture. I used 118 grams of egg (allowing for a very slight range on either side when I made my 115 to 120 gram recommendation) for my total and my dough was just right. When I lifted some of it with a spatula, the dough fell over slightly, indicating it was soft enough but not so soft as to lose its shape when forming the puffs. Next I stirred in my cheese—the better the cheese, the better the result—and got ready to bake.
Using two teaspoons, I scooped up some dough with one spoon and pushed it onto one of the prepared pans with the other spoon, forming a mound about the size of a small walnut. I repeated the process, leaving a bit of space between the mounds so they could puff, and put the first sheet in the oven, dropping the temperature to 400°F. I baked them for 25 minutes until puffed and golden, took them out of the oven and pierced each one with the tip of a knife to release the steam inside. Then I put them back in the oven for a few minutes to crisp them a bit more. I cooled the finished puffs on a rack and proceeded to bake the second sheet that I had put together with the remaining dough while the first sheet was baking. Eh, voila!
Makes about 40 puffs