Ah, the cream puff, the profiterole, the choux à la crème. Once I asked for cream puffs instead of a birthday cake. They're light and airy and flaky and if the cream is really fresh, delicious. In summertime, cream puffs proudly show at every County Fair and reign at the Wisconsin State Fair. The line for the State Fair cream puff stand is a constant hour long. (I found the recipe to the famous Wisconsin State Fair Cream Puffs HERE if you're interested - or not interested in waiting until the Fair). As of recently, it looks like cream puffs will soon be the official state dessert. A bill is moving swiftly though the state legislation (good to know Madison is on top of this). After 25 years of living amongst cream puffs, it occurred to me "maybe cream puffs are a regional thing?". So readers, especially you non-midwesterners, can you find cream puffs where you are?
THE WISCONSIN STATE FAIR CREAM PUFF
Recipe by David Schmidt
1 cup water
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 tsp. iodized salt
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. milk
2 cups whipping cream, whipped with vanilla extract and sugar (see below)
Sifted powdered sugar
Made from the ingredients Wisconsin is famous for — milk, cream, butter and eggs — cream puffs were a natural addition to the Wisconsin State Fair. Since their introduction in 1924, cream puffs have grown to be a signature Fair item, selling more than 365,000 annually. The Wisconsin State Fair dairy bakery operates around-the-clock during the Fair to meet the ever-growing insatiable demand.
Some fairgoers wait all year for a chance to indulge in the rich sweetness of a State Fair cream puff, but now you can make them year-round in your own kitchen. The following recipe does not take dozens of employees or tons of whipping cream to make, but the taste is as genuine as the Fair. So, go ahead — indulge and savor the memories.
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour one very large or two small baking sheets, or line with parchment paper.
2. Pour water into heavy saucepan. Cut butter into small pieces and add to water. Add salt. Place saucepan over medium-low heat so butter melts before water boils. Bring water just to boil.
3. Remove pan from heat and add flour all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until dough forms into a ball and bottom of pan is filmed with flour. Let dough rest 5 minutes.
4. Add whole eggs, beating in one egg at a time. Dough should be stiff but smooth.
5. Immediately drop 1/4 cupfuls of dough 3 inches apart on baking sheet. (Or for a neater appearance, use pastry bag with 3/4-inch plain tip and pipe dough onto baking sheet.)
6. Combine egg yolk and milk in a small bowl. Brush each puff with glaze mixture, taking care not to let liquid drip onto pan.
7. Bake 35 minutes, until puffed, golden brown and firm.
8. Cool puffs on wire racks, pricking each with a cake tester or toothpick to allow steam to escape, or leave them in a turned-off oven with the door propped open for about an hour, until firm. (If baked pastry is filled before cool and firm, it will be soggy and may collapse.) Baked puffs should have hollow, moist interiors and crisp outer shells that are lightly browned.
9. Cut off tops, fill with whipped cream (use pastry bag with star tip or scoop the whipped cream with a large spoon). Replace tops of the puffs and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Enjoy!
Makes 12 cream puffs