Gougères may sound fancy, but they are a quick, easy, cheesy puff pastry that are simply delicious and sure to impress! They are also a great way to celebrate Bastille Day!
Bastille Day, the French national holiday, commemorates the storming of the Bastille, which took place on 14 July 1789 and marked the beginning of the French Revolution. It marked the end of absolute monarchy, the birth of the sovereign Nation, and, eventually, the creation of the (First) Republic, in 1792. Since it’s so similar to our Independence Day celebrations, I thought it was only fitting to celebrate it too!
Food acts as a way of uniting all of us in celebration; and for me, there is nothing more French than pastry…cheesy, puffy, choux pastry. Whenever I think of France, I think of bread and pastry and sidewalk cafes filled with people enjoying wine, cheese, bread and life.
All of those things were the inspiration for my photograph in this post. The background is a cafe scene (actually depicting New Orleans, which of course also has much French influence). The painting was owned by my mother-in-law who was educated at Tulane, a New Orleans university. The chef holding the cafe sign just looks so French to me…and I love her…she’s a funky little kitchen helper of mine (her quote on the chalkboard being a take on Marie Antoinette’s famous, “Let them eat cake.”). The basket holding the gougères reminds me of French market baskets spilling over with baguettes and other lovely breads. So, that is an insight into the staging of this fabulous recipe.
The recipe I’ve used is one that I have made since about the mid-80’s. It is amazingly simple, as choux pastry is, and contains only water, butter, flour and eggs. Gougères add cheese, usually Gruyère (but you could use any Swiss or other cheese), and a bit of nutmeg. Gruyère…Gougères …both are a mouthful (both literally and figuratively). So, if you’re going to make this recipe…here’s how you pronounce it (so you can fully impress): Gougères = Goo/zhehr…like Goo Share…with a ZsaZsa Gabor like zshar sound.
Now that you know how to say it (assuming you didn’t already, sorry), go make some! Celebrate Bastille Day in style!
- 1 cup water
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated (or the cheese of your choice)
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- Preheat oven to 425° F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, bring water, butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg to a rapid, rolling boil.
- Remove from heat.
- Add flour and beat with a wooden spoon until the sides of the pan are clean.
- Place back on the burner, turned to low and allow to cook for about 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat again, and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
- Add the cheese and beat until mixed.
- Beat in each egg, one at a time, until incorporated. The dough will be smooth, shiny and firm.
- Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto the parchment lined baking sheets, about an inch apart.
- Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and puffed.
- Serve immediately.