Avoid This Classic Gougères Mistake

When thinking of French cuisine, it's likely that pastries come to mind. Some of your favorite French pastries may include buttery croissants, melt-in-your-mouth macarons, or cream-filled éclairs, but there's something that makes cheesy gougéres especially irresistible. Maybe it's their bite-size, pop-in-your-mouth convenience, which is especially perfect for serving at parties, or their puffy, popover-like texture that makes for a decadent treat that won't cause you to feel stuffed.

Similar to profiteroles, which are gougéres' sweet sister, the dough for gougéres is called pâte à choux. According to The Flavor Blender, it's basically a dough using flour, butter, eggs, and water. However, the tricky part is that you're stirring the dough constantly in a saucepan over heat until the batter stiffens into a dough that is solid enough for piping, versus a runny consistency. From there, you're beating in eggs one at a time, and stirring in finely grated gruyere cheese. Once the eggs are fully incorporated, and the cheese has melted into the dough, it's important to remove the dough from the heat quickly. 

Once you've made the pâte à choux, you're not out of the woods yet, as there is one mistake tons of people make when it comes to baking gougéres.

Make sure to preheat your oven

Once you've transferred the dough to a piping bag and piped rounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, here is where the tricky part lies. According to Kitchn, a common mistake many people make is starting the gougéres in a cool oven, or an oven that is still preheating. Due to the dough being so delicate, starting them off in a very hot oven — 450 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact — will ensure they rapidly puff, whereas starting them in a cool oven could lead to deflated pancakes. However, keeping the temperature high for too long runs the risk of burning them, and after some testing, Cook's Illustrated states that simply lowering the temperature after baking on high could lead to a dry texture.

The food site found that when they lowered the baking temperature of their oven, it didn't drop as much as predicted. This led to puffs that were too brown and dry inside. They eventually found the perfect formula: Cook the puffs at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, turn the oven completely off, and leave the puffs inside for another 15 minutes. The key is not to open the oven door, and your patience will be rewarded with perfectly cooked gougéres.