While baking, we often assume that when a mixture requires a good strong stir, a whisk is going to be the best tool for the job. However, certain consistencies require a specific treatment that a whisk just isn't equipped to provide.
Take pâte à choux, the delicate dough used in eclairs, as well as other sweet and savory treats like profiteroles and gougères. It has a sparse ingredient list, needing only butter, flour, eggs, salt, and sugar, but using the incorrect tool can turn even this simple, adaptable pastry into a flop.
Because of this mixture's specific makeup -- not quite butter, but not quite a dough, either -- it can get stuck between a whisk's wire loops when you're adding the flour. Using a spoon instead can eliminate this issue, as you'll be able to mix without needing to take breaks every couple of minutes to pick dough out from in between the whisk tines.
The Problem With Whisking Pâte à Choux
You may be wondering why whisking is considered such a big mistake when making eclairs and whether switching to a spoon is worth the extra workout for your arms. The answer is simple: efficiency. By spending all of that time removing the trapped mixture from your whisk, you're essentially doubling how long you spend making the pastry. To make matters worse, no matter how conservative you think you're being, you'll inevitably end up losing a good chunk of mixture to this whisk prison.
It's a pretty basic standard to have a smooth consistency at the end of a mixing process, with little to no lumps in sight. By repeatedly stopping to remove and clean your whisk, you're more or less condemning yourself to lumpy dough — or, at least, a much longer period of time spent over the bowl, ensuring you have the ideal consistency for your eclairs.
This is not a demand to throw your whisk out; it's still the best in class for achieving nicely aerated, voluminous mixtures! However, for the good of your eclairs, consider switching to a spoon when making pâte à choux.
Read the original article on Mashed.