I don’t have memories of baking cookies with my mom, but of baking cream puffs with her and my sister and brother.
After boiling away the stuff on the stove, we’d hold down the pot while ma stirred powerfully away at the choux pastry. Then we’d have a go. Our spindly arms couldn’t handle the work though. The dough was always too tough for us, and we have to stir fast and furious to ensure fat and fluffy puffs. After a few swipes, we’d collapse into an exhausted heap as our ma took over.
Piping was the best fun. There’s always a mess though; but proud funny looking blobs always formed, so it was all good.
My sister and I wanted to take my mom out for yesterday’s mother’s day. Manicures for everybody! Food! Play! Ma, however, gave a resolute no. That’s a waste of money. What did she want instead? Creem pup. What? Creem pup. What? Those things. Little lumps with cream in them. Cream puffs!
So, sister (brother for a little bit) and I baked cream puffs for our mom, using the recipe she’s kept for over 20 years from Vietnam.
Delicious! Don’t overfill them though—or else when you bite into them, there’ll be a custard explosion. Unless you want that, of course.
recipe from momma Fatty Dumpling
Instructions for Vanilla Custard
400 ml milk
3 large eggs
100 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp flour
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and flour until combined.
Pour the mixture through a sieve into a saucepan.
The mixture has to be thin. If it’s too thick, add more milk. If it’s too thin, add more flour.
Stir the mixture over high heat. When the mixture begins to thicken, immediately lower the heat and continue stirring. (If you do not continuously stir or lower the heat, the custard will develop sad lumps.)
The custard is finished when it has reached a thick consistency, like pudding.
Once the custard is finished, cool it down to room temperature. Then, place it covered in the refrigerator if you’d like it to be cold filling. Set aside until later.
Instructions for Choux Pastry
500 ml water
2 tbsp sugar
180 g butter
½ tsp salt
300 g flour
8 large eggs
1/2 tsp baking powder
In a large pot, combine the water, sugar, salt, and butter and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn off the heat, but keep the pot on the stove.
Sift in the flour while stirring in one direction quickly. Stir until everything is combined and the dough comes away from the sides of the pot.
Take the pot off the heat and continue stirring in one direction.
Stir in one egg until it is completely incorporated. Stir powerfully and quickly. The dough is tough in the beginning, and becomes easier to stir when the egg first comes in. Stir until the dough is tough again and comes together. (Momma Fatty Dumpling says that in Vietnam, she was taught to stir for 20 eggs to ensure that it is well blended and enough air is incorporated into the dough. However in Canada, 5 minutes should do it. )
Continue stirring in each of the eggs one at a time.
Stir in the baking powder after the last egg.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare a sheet with either parchment paper or greased tin foil.
Place the dough in a piping bag and pipe a blob as big as you like. My blobs were probably as big as 1 ½ tablespoons. Alternatively, you can spoon your dough onto the sheet.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until they are golden brown.
Instructions for filling the puffs
You can pipe the custard into the puffs. I’d suggest a discreet side, ‘cause it might ooz out of the puff’s bottom.
You can also simply split the puff in two—but the two halves will be hinged by a side, and spoon a bit of custard into its centre.