Gougères hold a special place in my heart. More specifically, the giant gougères from Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. It’s a long story but in essence, gougères will always remind me of my boyfriend, Alex. Rewind back four years. We were both living in St. Helena (30 minutes north of Napa Valley). Most weekends in Napa are packed with tourists, cyclists, and lots of cars. To get away from the crowds, we’d escape to San Francisco or Berkeley.
San Francisco is TWO hours away. That’s a four-hour journey in the car round trip (that’s without heavy traffic). Driving into the city is a big feat, but a visit to Tartine is well worth the trouble. Everything from Tartine Bakery is ridiculously amazing. I love their crusty sourdough piled with pastrami and just enough horseradish to make you tear with joy. I can’t visit without ordering their banana cream tart, and Alex must order his baseball-sized gougères.
Although there is usually a line outside the bakery, the most we’ve ever waited was half an hour. Not bad, considering sometimes it takes us longer to find nearby street parking. Many people complain that the bakery is overhyped and the breads and pastries overpriced. I don’t agree. I understand that there is a cost to pay for quality ingredients along with the time and care that goes into handmade pastries and authentic loaves of bread.
To me, gougères represents Alex’s patience, thoughtfulness, and eagerness to make me happy. I love San Francisco but driving not so much. Despite his apprehensions (hates all the one way streets, cable cars, pedestrians,confusing traffic lights), he would drive me without complain. Even when looking for parking takes close to an hour, he doesn’t say a word. Sometimes it takes me forever to pick items from a menu or a bakery case because I usually want everything. He’ll order something he knows I’ll like just in case I change my mind after I’ve ordered and want to switch with him. During the drive, he’ll let me play DJ even though our taste in music somewhat differs. And after a long day of driving, walking, and eating around the city, he’ll let me nap on the car ride home.
He is still the sweetest and kindest guy I’ve ever met (excluding my dad, of course). He buys me flowers for no reason. He brings me snacks and food when he’s near any of my favorite places. And yesterday, he bought me The Great Gatsby soundtrack because he heard me listening to the snippets on iTunes all weekend long. He knows that I’m obsessed with that infectious and goosebumps-inducing song by Lana Del Rey. I’ve listened to that same song over and over. He is well aware that allowing me to have the soundtrack means the same songs will be played all weekend long (not only at home but during car rides), yet he still bought it for me. That’s love. And that’s why these gougères are super special to me.
Gougères are easy-peasy to make. Its made using pâte à choux paste similar to the dough using making profiteroles and éclairs (see chocolate eclairs).
In a medium sauce pot, mix together butter, water, milk, and salt. Over medium heat, cook until butter has melted and mixture has come to a boil. Add flour all at once and begin stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue to stir until dough pulls away from the sides of the pot. At this point the dough should be smooth, like the last picture.
Transfer dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. On low-speed, add eggs one at a time. Make sure egg is fully incorporated before adding the next egg. As you add the eggs, the dough will separate. This is normal. Once all the eggs has been added, as you continue to mix the dough will come back together. The dough should be shiny, smooth, and quite thick at this point. Add cheese, black pepper, and thyme to the bowl. Fold in with a rubber spatula. Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain round tip. Pipe 1-inch mounds onto a parchment line baking sheet. Space rounds at least 1 1/2 inches apart. Alternatively, you can use a spoon or a small ice cream scooper to make 1-inch mounds.
Brush each mound with egg wash and top with cheese. Bake 20-30 minutes until the pastries have puffed up and have browned in color. The finished gougères should feel very light in weight for their size. If they feel heavy, put them back in the oven for a couple more minutes.
The best thing about these little guys is you can make tons of them in advance. After you pipe out the mounds, place it in the freezer. After a couple of hours the mounds should be frozen solid. Peel them from the parchment paper and store in an airtight ziplock bag for future use. They can be stored in the freezer for up to one month. To bake them, place the frozen mounds on a parchment lined sheet tray. Brush the tops with egg wash, sprinkle a little cheese, and bake them for 30-40 minutes. You’ll always have snacks or hors d’oeuvres ready for any party or occasion.
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 10 Tbsp (5 oz) unsalted butter
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup (5 oz) all-purpose flour
- 5 large eggs
- 1 cup (4 oz) gruyere cheese, shredded
- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
- 1 large egg
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- Gruyere cheese, shredded or grated for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium saucepot, mix together butter, water, milk and salt. Over medium heat, cook until butter melts and mixture has come to a boil. Add flour all at once and begin stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue to stir until dough pulls away from the sides of the pot. At this point the dough should be smooth.
- Transfer dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. On low speed, add eggs one at time. Make sure egg is fully incorporated before adding the next egg. As you add the eggs, the dough will separate. This is normal. Once all the eggs have been added, as you continue to mix, the dough will come back together. The dough should be shiny, smooth, and quite thick at this point.
- Add cheese, black pepper, and thyme. Fold in with a rubber spatula. Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain round tip. Pipe 1-inch mounds onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Space mounds at least 1 1/2 inches apart. Alternatively, you can use a spoon or a small ice cream scooper to make 1-inch rounds.
- Brush each mound with egg wash (whisk together 1 egg and 1/8 tsp salt) and top with cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes until the pastries have puffed up and have browned in color. The finished gougeres should feel very light in weight for their size. If they feel heavy, put them bake in the oven for a couple of minutes.
Tip: Place a little batter/dough on the corners of the sheet tray to keep the parchment in place while you pipe.
adapted from Tartine