Gougères with aged gruyère and cayenne

Gougères with aged gruyère and cayenne

Who would want to live without the exquisite pleasure of eating warm bread, or pasta, or cakes?

Almost 1 in 100 Americans suffer from celiac disease – gluten intolerance. Why can’t they enjoy the exact same quality of flour-based food as those who don’t?

That is the tantalizing question that more and more cooks (and chefs) are facing.

For me, the answer came from a most unexpected source – celebrated chef Thomas Keller… via a mysterious sack of flour left at my door by a dear friend who’d just returned from California.

The “Cup4Cup” flour blend waiting at my door is the creation of Lena Kwak, the talented and creative Research and Development Chef at the French Laundry, Chef Keller’s much-heralded temple of gastronomy, in Yountville, CA.

As luck would have it, I had the chance to meet Lena – and Thomas Keller – a couple of weeks later (on November 1) at the launch of Cup4Cup at Per Se, in New York City.

Like a proud father, Keller recounted the events that led to the introduction of this flour. He’d noticed an increase in patrons with gluten allergies or celiac disease at his restaurants, many especially lamenting that they could not enjoy the French Laundry’s iconic salmon cornet. Lena was able to develop a gluten-free version of the cornet – and Cup4Cup was born.

The product’s name, Keller explained, came from the simple idea that you can replace this gluten-free flour blend cup for cup with all-purpose flour in any of your recipes. If you’ve ever tried to cook with gluten-free flour before, you know that tweaking recipes is de rigeur.

The first recipe I made with Lena’s outstanding flour blend is the gougères that I’m featuring today. They prove the point: the recipe works equally successfully with the Cup4Cup flour and with all-purpose flour.

Better still, Cup4Cup has no discernible flavor, making gourmet gluten-free cooking a possibility like never before. The only slight difference with regular wheat flour is in its texture. The Cup4Cup flour is a bit more sticky and tends to lump up. So I recommend sifting it before cooking with it; I’ve given detailed photos and instructions to make the gougères easily and successfully.

Gougères with aged gruyère and cayenne

It took Lena Kwak one and a half years to create the right formula for this flour blend. But she cracked the code. And it shows. These gougères turned out light as air, flaky and moist, and most of all they all had a lovely hollowed center, the signature of this savory version of pâte à choux!

It’s not every day that my enthusiasm for a product prompts me to devote an entire blog post to it. But Cup4Cup is worth getting excited about – because if you or a loved one are allergic to gluten or have celiac disease, this flour could change your life.

Whether made with gluten-free flour or regular flour, though, these gougères are exquisite. Enjoy!

Food & wine pairing: Champagne with gruyère and cayenne gougères

Sparkling wine iconAn elegant Champagne is magnificent with these as-light-as-air, but slightly rich gougères. Try one from Montagne de Reims in Champagne, a region famed for the quality of the Pinot Noir bubblies it produces.

Gougères with aged gruyère and cayenne

Gougères with aged gruyère and cayenne

makes 48 bite-size gougères
active time: 30 min

For the the dough or pâte à choux

  1. 1 1/4 cups (7 oz) (200 g) 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or Cup4Cup gluten-free flour blend
  2. 1/2 cup milk
  3. 1/2 cup spring water
  4. 8 tablespoons (4 oz) (115 g) unsalted butter
  5. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  6. 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  7. 4 extra large eggs
  8. 3 oz (85 g) aged gruyère – coarsely grated (3/4 cup)

For the egg wash

  1. 1 extra large egg
  2. 1 tablespoon spring water
  1. 2 large jelly roll pans or baking sheets
  2. 2 Silpat non-stick baking mats or parchment paper

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF (190°C).
  2. Step 1: Sift the flour in a medium bowl (if using a hand-held mixer) or in the bowl of an electric mixer. Make a well in the center and set aside.
  3. Step 2: Place the milk, water, butter, salt and cayenne in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the liquid boils, remove pan from heat and add to the flour, pouring it in the center of the well. Whisk at medium speed until the mixture is thick and forms a smooth, doughy batter – or pâte à choux.
  4. Step 3: Transfer pâte à choux back to the pan (the one you used to boil the milk mixture). Heat pâte à choux over medium heat, working it with a wooden spoon until it dries up a bit and comes together, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Step 4: Transfer pâte à choux back into the whisking bowl. Add one egg and whisk with the electric mixer at medium speed until well incorporated. Repeat adding the eggs one at a time and whisking each time until well incorporated. Add the cheese to the pâte à choux and whisk at medium speed until the cheese has melted and the pâte à choux is smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula and shape pâte à choux in a round ball.
  6. Step 5: To make the egg wash – Place the egg in a small bowl. Add the spring water and whisk until well blended.
  7. Step 6: Transfer the pâte à choux to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2” smooth tip. Pipe 1 1/2” in diameter mounds, 2” apart, onto two baking sheets lined with Silpat mats or parchment paper. Brush with the egg wash and bake for 22 to 25 minutes until the tops are golden. Make sure not to undercook the gougères or they will collapse when they cool. Serve immediately, while piping hot.
  8. Cook’s note: You can use the pâte à choux right away or cover it with a plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap is directly in contact with the dough so that it doesn’t form a crust. Keep in a cool place for up to two hours.

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Step by step

Place the flour in a medium sieve or sifter.

Sift the flour in a medium bowl (if using a hand-held mixer) or in the bowl of an electric mixer.

Make a well in the center and set aside.

Place the milk, water, butter, salt and cayenne in a medium saucepan.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

As soon as the liquid boils, remove pan from heat and add to the flour, pouring it in the center of the well.

Whisk at medium speed…

… until the mixture is thick and forms a smooth, doughy batter – or pâte à choux.

Transfer pâte à choux back to the pan (the one you used to boil the milk mixture).

Heat pâte à choux over medium heat, working it with a wooden spoon…

… until it dries up a bit and comes together, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Transfer pâte à choux back into the whisking bowl. Add one egg…

… and whisk with the electric mixer at medium speed until well incorporated.

Repeat adding the eggs one at a time and whisking each time until well incorporated.

Add the cheese to the pâte à choux…

… and whisk at medium speed until the cheese has melted and the pâte à choux is smooth, about 30 seconds.

Scrape the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula and shape pâte à choux in a round ball.

To make the egg wash – place the egg in a small bowl. Add the spring water…

… and whisk until well blended.

Transfer the pâte à choux in a piping bag fitted with a 1/2″ smooth tip. Pipe 1 1/2″-diameter mounds, 2″ apart, onto two baking sheets lined with Silpat mats or parchment paper

Brush with the egg wash.

Bake gougères for 22 to 25 minutes until the tops are golden. Make sure not to undercook the gougères or they will collapse when they cool. Serve immediately, while piping hot.

hors d’oeuvres, gougere, gruyere

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