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Homemade Eclairs (With Pastry Cream & Ganache)

4.67 from 6 votes
This Homemade Eclairs recipe will teach you the importance of ratios and weight — and you'll get perfect, delicious ganache-dipped eclairs filled with pastry cream out of it too!
Hands holding a homemade eclair cut in half.

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Hi Bold Bakers!

NOTE FROM GEMMA: Ben is back to help teach us the importance of ratios and weight in baking with one of his favorites — his Homemade Eclairs recipe! He has a breakdown for each level of baker. Here he is, in his own words!

What’s your favorite thing to bake?

If you spend some time baking, fall in love with it, and share your baked goods with the world, someone is bound to ask you that question. For me, the answer always changes. It depends on whatever rabbit hole I have found myself in: baguettes, blondies, croissants. Ask me what my favorite baked good to eat is, however, and the response is immediate and unchanging: éclairs. 

The foundation of any good éclair is the pâte à choux or choux pastry. The ingredient list is short and simple, but the technique can be tricky at first. Pick your level of experience and read more. Each portion is broken down into two major sections: ingredient amounts and getting the right consistency.

FOR THE BEGINNER BAKER

A pot next to eggs being weighed.

INGREDIENT AMOUNTS

It may seem like an extra tool in the kitchen, but I promise you that as soon as you get a kitchen scale, your cup measures will find themselves buried deeper and deeper in the drawer with each passing bake. Take flour, for example. Measure out one cup of flour and it can weigh anywhere from 100 to 200 grams depending on how much it is compressed. Those big differences can have astounding effects on your baked goods. 

Consistency aside, weighing is also faster and uses fewer utensils. Just place one bowl on the scale and you can continuously add ingredients, pressing the tare button to zero out the weight between each addition. 

Get super fancy, even, and place your whole bag of flour or carton of milk on the scale, press tare, and watch the scale read the negative amount you just removed from the bag. (example: place a brand new 5 lb (2268g) bag of flour on the scale and press tare. The scale will read 0. Suppose you need to add 140g of flour into the bowl of your mixer. Leave the bag on the scale and scoop flour out until the scale reads -140 and you’re done. That’s it!)

GETTING THE RIGHT CONSISTENCY

Baked eclairs showing what happens with the wrong and right amounts of egg.

The pâte à choux starts by bringing water, butter, and salt to a boil. From there, remove the liquid from the heat and add flour all at once. The resulting dough is then mixed back on the heat until it leaves a skin on the bottom of the pot. This process allows us to incorporate the liquid into the dough that will then turn into steam in the oven. That steam is what causes the choux to rise. No baking soda, baking powder, or yeast. It’s only steam. 

When adding the eggs, add them slowly and wait until each portion is incorporated before adding the next. I like to whisk all the eggs together to make it even easier to add a little egg at a time. As you get to the end of your eggs, add slowly. It is now the time to check your dough and make sure that it is at the right consistency. In the end, you want a choux pastry that slowly falls off the paddle of a mixer or a rubber spatula if working by hand and leaves a “v” shape.

FOR THE EXPERIENCED BAKER

Piping the pâte à choux onto a baking sheet.

INGREDIENT AMOUNTS

Recipes are all about ratios. How much do we have of one ingredient compared to another? The beauty of learning these ratios is that it allows you to quickly remember a recipe and easily scale the recipe to your desired amount. Sure it’s quick and easy to double, triple, or half a recipe, but what if you want to increase it by 2 ⅓? Not as quick when working with set amounts, but very quick when working with ratios. This pâte à choux recipe follows the ratio of 2-1-1-2 or 2 parts water to 1 part butter to 1 part flour to 2 parts egg (all by weight). Put another way, this means that the amounts of water and egg are the same and they are twice the amounts of butter and flour. 

Say you only have one egg left in the fridge and are craving some eclairs. Don’t bother trying to find a recipe with 1 egg or scaling some other recipe down. Instead, follow these ratios. Start by weighing the egg. A standard large egg typically weighs 50g. This means that the amount of water you should use is also 50g. The amount of butter and flour you should use, then, is 25g each. That’s it! Always add a pinch of salt to bring out the flavor of your baked goods, but that’s the whole recipe figured out in an instant.

GETTING THE RIGHT CONSISTENCY

Pâte à choux gets its puff from steam. Liquid trapped in the dough turns to steam as the pastry hits a hot oven and puff goes the choux. In order to allow for just the right puff, make sure the consistency of your dough is not too dense or too loose. Either way will result in a small puff and little room for the best part: vanilla pastry cream. As you add your eggs, add slowly and as you get to the last bit, it is now the time to check your dough and make sure that it is at the right consistency. In the end, you want a choux pastry that slowly falls off the paddle of a mixer or a rubber spatula if working by hand and leaves a “v” shape. 

In this last step, it doesn’t just have to be whole eggs that you are adding. Shirley Corriher, baker, food scientist, and author of Bakewise, suggests that replacing some of the whole egg amount with extra egg whites will result in a crisper choux. The idea here is that by leaving out the fat-rich yolk, you are more likely to have a sturdy and crisp pastry. Just remember to keep the entire weight of eggs the same.

FOR THE ADVANCED BAKER

Filling the eclairs with pastry cream.

INGREDIENT AMOUNTS

Once you have mastered working with ratios, make your way over to bakers’ percentages. In order to accommodate the constant scaling of recipes that may include several ingredients, many professional bakeries express their recipes in terms of percentages. They also do a seemingly funny thing and express each ingredient not as a percent of the weight of the whole batch but as a percent of the amount of flour (typically) in the recipe. 

At first, I admit, this seems weird, but the advantage of doing it this way comes when comparing recipes to each other and in recipe testing. If, for example, you want to reduce the amount of sugar in your recipe by 70g, under the bakers’ percentage system you would only need to change the percentage for sugar (as all the other ingredient amounts stay the same in relation to the amount of flour). Under a percent-of-whole system, each ingredient percentage would have to change because now the weight of the entire batch has changed. Spend some time making bread and these percentages will inevitably pop up as you talk about the hydration (percent of liquid relative to the amount of flour) of the dough.

Eclairs being dipped in chocolate ganache.

GETTING THE RIGHT CONSISTENCY

Consistency is key. As you add your eggs, add slowly and as you get to the last bit, it is now the time to check your dough and make sure that it is at the right consistency. In the end, you want a choux pastry that slowly falls off the paddle of a mixer or a rubber spatula if working by hand and leaves a “v” shape. 

Still, though, there is some room for customization when working with choux. The recipe as listed includes only water. Try using half water and half milk for a shinier choux paste that browns more quickly. This is especially helpful if making smaller chouquettes or cream puffs that spend less time in the oven. If you want your dough to be a little sweeter, add a little sugar in with the liquid in the first step. Finally, finish the choux with a crisp craquelin top. Mix equal parts (by weight) of brown sugar, butter, and flour, then chill and roll out to a thin layer. Cut pieces to fit on top of your choux and bake.

Get More Donuts & Churros!

The inside of a finished eclair.

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Watch The Recipe Video!

Homemade Eclairs Recipe

4.67 from 6 votes
This Homemade Eclairs recipe will teach you the importance of ratios and weight — and you'll get perfect, delicious ganache-dipped eclairs filled with pastry cream out of it too!
Author: Ben Delwiche
Servings: 23 3-Inch Eclairs
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 1 hr 35 mins
This Homemade Eclairs recipe will teach you the importance of ratios and weight — and you'll get perfect, delicious ganache-dipped eclairs filled with pastry cream out of it too!
Author: Ben Delwiche
Servings: 23 3-Inch Eclairs

Ingredients

Pate A Choux

  • ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (7floz/200ml) water
  • 7 tablespoons (3.5oz/100g) butter
  • pinch of salt
  • ¾ cup (3.5oz/100g) bread flour
  • 4 large (7oz/200g) eggs

Pastry Cream

  • cups (10floz/283ml) whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons (0.9oz/25g) granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Vanilla bean, or vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons (0.7/21g) cornstarch
  • ¼ cup (1.8oz/50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (1oz/28g) butter, softened

Ganache

  • 1 cup (8floz/227ml) heavy cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ⅓ cups (8oz/227g) dark chocolate, chopped

Instructions

Pate A Choux

  • Combine water, butter, and a pinch of salt in a small pot. Place over medium heat.
  • When the mixture comes to a boil, remove from the heat and add the flour all at once. Stir quickly to combine and form a dough.
  • Return the pot to medium heat and continue stirring until a thin film develops on the bottom of the pot.
  • Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. Let cool for 10 minutes.
  • Whisk eggs together in a small bowl. With the mixer running, add eggs a little at a time into the flour mixture. Wait until the egg is completely incorporated until adding the next amount.
  • As you near the end of the eggs, check the consistency of the dough by lifting the paddle up from the choux pastry. The mixture should fall slowly and form a “V” shape. If it stays stuck to the paddle, add a little more egg and check again.
  • Transfer the choux paste to a piping bag fitted with a French star tip. Pipe 3 inch eclairs onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Bake at 400°F (200°C) for 20 minutes. Lower the temperature to 325°F (160°C) and bake for another 10-20 minutes or until they are golden brown and feel hollow on the inside.
  • After removing the choux from the oven, poke two holes in the bottom of each eclair and return to the tray upside down to allow steam to escape.

Pastry Cream

  • Split a vanilla bean in half leaving the very top intact. Scrape the beans from each half of the pod and place in a small pot along with the whole bean.
  • To the pot, add milk, first amount of sugar, and a pinch of salt. Place over medium-low heat.
  • While the milk is heating up, add egg yolks, cornstarch and sugar to a heat proof bowl. Whisk to combine.
  • When the milk comes to a simmer, remove from the heat. While whisking continuously, add a tablespoon at a time to the yolk mixture. Continue adding the hot milk a tablespoon at a time until half of the milk is added in with the yolks. Then transfer the yolk mixture into the pot with the remaining milk.
  • Remove the vanilla bean pod and return the pot to medium heat. Whisk continuously until the cream thickens. Once it starts to bubble, cook for two more minutes. Remove from the heat and pass through a sieve.
  • Add softened butter and whisk to combine. Lastly, plastic wrap up against the surface of the cream and refrigerate until cool and ready to use.
  • Before using, stir with a spatula to loosen the cream.

Ganache

  • Chop dark chocolate into small pieces and place in a heat proof bowl.
  • Pour heavy cream and a pinch of salt into a small pot. Place over medium heat.
  • When the cream comes to a simmer, remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for two minutes undisturbed.
  • After two minutes whisk to combine until the ganache is homogenous.

Assembly

  • Fit a piping bag with a round tip and fill with the pastry cream.
  • Once the eclair shells are cooled, pipe the pastry cream into the two holes made to allow steam to escape.
  • Dip the tops of the eclairs into the chocolate ganache, let the ganache drip off for a few seconds, and carefully place onto a baking tray lined with parchment or serving plate.
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Margot M
Margot M
3 months ago

Usually, I’m a decent at home baker, but I have never been able to get elcairs right. Since I’ve always had success with other recipes from your website I thought I would give these a shot. Sadly, these didn’t work out for me either, the choux was just eggy, oily, and dense. I really tried following the recipe exactly, and I think I’m just messing something up every time. Any ideas?

Jo Stephens
Jo Stephens
3 months ago

You give as an option the use of vanilla extract rather than a vanilla bean without saying how much extract should be used.

Debra
Debra
2 months ago

Can a person put vanilla in the Chou pastry to hide the egg flavor, never tried this recipe but the one I did had a egg flavor. I am so looking forward to trying this recipe 😊

Yoshitha
Yoshitha
3 months ago

Any substitute for eggs?

Sahaana
Sahaana
3 months ago

Hi Gemma can we use all purpose flour for this recipe instead of bread flour and does the quantity change if I use all purpose flour ?

Mila
Mila
3 months ago

Does the milk have to be full fat? Really wanna try this

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere!

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