It all began last Friday at a wine and food pairing class I was teaching with Neil at the St Lawrence Market (check out the rest of my class offerings here). The theme was Southwest France and we had a little bit of piment d’espelette in many of the dishes, including gougères. The mild smoky pepper paired really well with the sharp cheddar we used in the gougères and in my head I was running through a whole other bunch of ideas that I thought might work particularly well in a choux pastry with cheese and I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of a touch of Vegemite in a gougère because, well, a Vegemite and cheese sandwich is the stuff of my childhood – they go SO well together.
The following day, I did a couple of small batch experiments and was really thrilled with the results. I gave one to the unsuspecting (Vegemite-hating) Mr Neil and he deemed it very tasty although he couldn’t quite put his finger on the flavour (and when I did tell him, he didn’t get mad either!). In any case, I was really happy with the results of this experiment and hey, since it’s Australia Day today, what better time to share the recipe with you?
Over the few batches I made, even when I baked these at high heat, they took a lot longer than a typical gougère to bake through (as in nearly double the time), so don’t be concerned. If you’re unsure about the “doneness” when they are baking, the best thing to do is remove one from the oven, let it cool slightly and cut it open. The insides might still be a little wet but if it’s not hollow, they’re not done.
Vegemite gougères (Vegemite and cheese puffs)
Cheese and Vegemite are a marriage made in heaven. Why not combine them in a choux puff?
250 mls (1 cup) milk or water
113g (8 tablespoons/ 1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4-6 pieces
1 level tablespoon Vegemite
150g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup grated cheese (typically Gruyère but I used cheddar here)
Preheat oven to 400˚F and line two baking trays with parchment paper.
Bring the milk, butter and Vegemite to the boil in a heavy pot.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add all the flour at in one go.
Stir the dough vigorously and continuously with a wooden spoon - it will come together fairly quickly, looking a little like mashed potatoes, but keep stirring over a low heat until it becomes smooth (approximately 2 minutes). There will be a slight crust on the bottom of the pot.
Place the dough in a large clean glass or metal bowl and use a wooden spoon to break up the mixture a little to release the steam. Do not stir. Keep doing this for a couple of minutes so the dough loses some of its heat.
Once the steam rising from the dough has more or less subsided add one egg and stir even more vigorously than before using a wooden spoon. When you first add the egg, the dough will look a little like you’ve made a huge mistake – it will be hard to incorporate the egg into the dough at first but don't worry, if you keep stirring, your dough will soon return to its mashed potato-like state.
Add the second egg and stir vigorously until the dough has come together again. Continue until all eggs are beaten in and the mixture is soft, shiny and elastic.
Add the cheese to the dough and mix until just folded through.
Using two teaspoons or a small cookie scoop form scoops about the size of a walnut in its shell (rounds of about 4cm in diameter), leaving about 4cm in between each puff.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, turning the trays from front to back to ensure even baking halfway through. The puffs should feel light and sound hollow when you tap them
Turn off the oven and allow to cool for about 20 minutes on the tray in the oven and serve warm. These will be slightly wetter than a typical gougère on the inside but the mixture should have baked so the puffs are hollow.
Lamingtons for Australia Day
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Macingtons (Lamington macarons) for Australia Day
Lami-choux (Lamington choux puffs)
In the French kitchen with kids releases July 31, 2018! Click here for pre-order details!