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July 2017

The Mysterious History of Cream Puffs

There are many myths regarding the history of cream puffs and how they were first invented. The recipe was passed by the word of mouth by various chefs over the years. As per one legend cream puff was invented in 1540 by Popelini, the chef of Catherine de’Medicini, in France. It is believed that chefs in France started experimenting with the mixture of flour dough, fat, eggs and water, and this mixture was called Choux pastry. This was way back when Catherine was the Queen in France. When this mixture rose, airy holes got created in the centre, which was filled with sweet fillings. However this is nothing more than a myth. Later many believe that these cream puffs were invented in Italy or France.

It is also believed that during the 13th century French and South German cooks invented puff pastries that were filled with lot of cheese mixtures. The dough of the pastry was baked in hot oven till it puffed. It was then sliced open and filled with cheese, which melted in the centre due to the hot temperature. A dash of herbs was further added to get some extra flavour.

In this delectable cream puff the dough rises to get porous results, which are then filled with chocolate fillings and sweet creams. Since these puffs resemble a cabbage after being baked, it got the name “cream puffs”. First mention of this puff is on restaurant menu at Revere House Restaurant at Boston in 1851.Recipes of these cream buns circulated among cooks in England and France during the early 1500’s. Same dough was used for these buns and was then cooked into the cakes of three to four inches. These were baked in an oven, taken out and basted in mixture of sugar and rosewater or rosewater, lemon and sugar mixed to make layered pastry.

The basic ingredients of the recipe are the same but because of varying methods of preparation of the ingredients and baking methods, different names were given to it like puff, choux, buns or profiterole. Different varieties of the puff pastries were developed by the 19th century, and these started having their own following. Every name had a specific meaning and characteristics. The dessert popularly known as cream puff came to be known as profiterole.

These cream puffs were created in intricate shapes by expert pastry chefs. Victorian diners could get them in shapes of pyramids of little, delicate chocolate, swans or puffs filled with vanilla to have with coffee, tea or with dessert wine.

It was once the privilege of the Royalty to have cream puffs, but is now easily available at supermarkets, and has found its way to the dining table of every household. There are numerous chains of bakeries selling them all over the world. Yet there is no comparison to home baked cream puff, full of sweet cream, fresh from oven. If you wish to create some of these at home, you can surf the internet for some famous recipes and have your family licking their fingers.