It’s certainly not hard to find someone who absolutely loves the light, airy (and succulent, to boot!) cream-filled treats known as Cream Puffs. Where did this delightful treat begin? When did it come into creation? Now it’s time to find out what National Cream Puff Day is all about!
History of National Cream Puff Day
Cream puffs are quite unusual pastries and are made very differently than most other recipes in their category. They originated in the 1540’s when Catherine de Medici’s pastry chef created the baked puffed shells for Catherine’s husband, Henry II of France. Although both the pastry and its name profiterole initially came from France, profiteroles are now considered to be one of the main national dishes in Gibraltar.
The word profiterole (also spelled prophitrole, profitrolle, or profiterolle) has existed in the English language since 1604, borrowed from the French. The original meaning in both English and French is unclear, but later it came to mean a kind of roll “baked under the ashes.” A 17th century French recipe for a Potage de profiteolles or profiterolles describes a soup of dried small breads, simmered in almond broth and garnished with coxcombs, truffles, and various other items.
The current cream puff does not date quite as far back and is only clearly referred to in the 19th century. But it wasn’t long until the dessert made a splash in the New World. In fact, the “cream puff” has appeared on restaurant menus in the United States since 1851.
How to Celebrate National Cream Puff Day
Celebrating National Cream Puff Day certainly wouldn’t be right without making or eating the dessert in question. Here are some other ideas for getting involved with the day:
Enjoy Cream Puffs at a Restaurant
Didn’t know that cream puffs are making a comeback in recent years? Well they are! And what could be bad about that? Try out some of these bakeries for the best cream puffs in the world:
- Beard Papa’s
Although it might be a surprise, the origins of this world-famous cream puff chain hail from Japan. Starting out as a small bakery with to-die-for cream puffs, the chain grew to 400 stores in at least 15 countries all over the world (including more than 25 throughout the USA).
For the best cream puffs in New York City, try none other than Keki. These cream puffs, with an Asian flare, are considered by some to be the softest in the city or “cloud pillows of cream”.
- The Tapestry
Go to the heart of where it all began and visit Paris. While there, head over to this delightful bakery where the cream puffs are infused with flowers-of-the-field essential oils.
- Maitre Choux
Hop over the channel from France for a little taste of some of the best cream puffs in London. With four London branches, these bakeries serve up some of the most unique flavors of cream puffs available.
Learn Fun Facts About Cream Puffs
Since cream puffs can fall a bit on the obscure end of the knowledge spectrum, friends and family members will be impressed when one of these interesting bits of trivia is pulled out in honor and celebration of National Cream Puff Day!
- The largest cream puff ever made weighed in at over 125 pounds. It was made in Wisconsin at the state fair in 2011 by baker David Schmidt and his team. This mammoth cream puff measured 38 inches wide by 7 ½ inches tall.
- Thinking of leaving those cream puffs in the oven? Think again! Since all of their puffiness is made from hot air, it’s necessary to get them out of the oven and get them cooled right away before they deflate and become like a flattened balloon.
- While cream puffs might look complicated (and they can be a bit fussy), the recipe is actually only made of 4 ingredients: butter, flour, eggs and water.
- Another name for the type of dough used in making cream puffs is “choux”. The dough relies on its high content of water to create steam that causes it to puff up.
Try Making Cream Puffs at Home
To celebrate National Cream Puff Day, it is possible to explore a variety of different recipes to create different and unique versions of them. Recipes varying from chocolate filled puffs to the traditional whip cream and even ice cream can all bring an amount of excitement and honor to this day!
So get out those baking pans and parchment papers because it’s time to invite family and friends over to share these delightful treats. Now, there are many recipes for Cream Puffs, but for the sake of consistency and order, here’s a look at one basic recipe to get started with. And it only makes sense to go with the classic! Cream Puffs with whipped cream filling.
Starting off with the necessary ingredients:
- 1 Cup of Water
- 8 Tablespoons or 1 stick of unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons of granulated sugar
- 1 cup of all purpose flour
- 3 to 4 eggs, plus 1 egg for egg wash
Now, for the filling:
- 2 Cups of Heavy Cream
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- ¼ teaspoon of vanilla
Finally, the steps to making our cream puffs!
Preheat the oven to 425F. In a large saucepan, bring the water, butter, salt, and granulated sugar to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. When it boils, immediately take the pan off the heat. Stirring with a wooden spoon, add all the flour at once and stir hard until all the flour is incorporated, for 30 to 60 seconds. Return the pan to the heat and stir for 30 seconds to evaporate some of the moisture.
Scrape the mixture into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix at medium speed. With the mixer running, add 1 egg at a time, stopping after each addition to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix until the dough is smooth, glossy, and the eggs are completely incorporated. The dough should be thick, but should fall slowly and steadily from the beaters when they are lifted out of the bowl. If the dough is still clinging to the beaters, add the remaining egg and mix until incorporated.
Using a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, pipe the dough onto the baking sheet in 2-inch diameter rounds or balls. Whisk the remaining egg with 1 1/2 teaspoons of water. Brush the surface of the rounds with the egg wash to knock down the points. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375F and bake until puffed up and light golden brown–about 20 minutes more. Try not to open the oven door too often while baking. Let it cool on the baking sheet.
To fill the cream puffs, place a pastry tip on your finger and poke a hole in the bottom of each puff. Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until stiff. Pipe whipped cream into each cream puff and chill until ready to serve, no more than 4 hours.