If you serve these cute gluten-free bacon choux buns at your next party, I guarantee that they’ll be gone in minutes! It helps that they look appetising and are the perfect size to devour in one go!
Making choux buns gluten-free sounds impossible, but I was pleasantly surprised by how similar they are to the gluten version. Using gluten-free plain flour and some xanthan gum makes it possible to have light and crisp buns together with the smooth bacon cream cheese filling.
What is a choux bun?
A choux bun is a light and crisp pastry ball made of only butter, flour, water and eggs, known as choux pastry or pâte à choux. There is no raising agent in it as the high moisture content creates the steam during cooking and this puffs up the pastry. This makes way for fillings, either sweet or savoury. Think of eclairs, profiteroles or croquembouches, these dessert classics use choux pastry and can be made into any shape or size according to the recipe.
Some tips for the perfect choux bun:
- Sift the flour well. No lumps result in a smooth batter.
- Make sure to remove the saucepan from the heat when adding the flour in step 5. Use a large silicone spatula or wooden spoon to really mix well.
- Unless you are planning to work out your arm, I recommend using a mixer when adding the mixed eggs. The dough becomes thick and sticky, which makes mixing by hand quite tiring.
- Make sure that the piping bag tip is always touching the dough when forming the balls. Any breaks may cause air bubbles to appear on the bun and form a less than attractive appearance once baked.
- If you are not sure how your oven behaves, test one or two choux buns before committing the entire batch to be baked. 7 minutes followed by another 5 minutes works perfectly in my electric oven, but the perfect heat may vary with your oven.
- Choux buns bake better on silicone baking mats than on baking paper. The heat is conducted more evenly from the bottom and ensures a smooth and nicely formed baked ball.
- Make sure to leave the choux buns to cool down completely before splitting and filling them.
Now that you know how to make the perfect gluten-free choux buns, the fun can start with choosing your favourite savoury filling with the following suggestions:
- Salmon, Cream Cheese & Chives – finely chopped salmon and chives mixed with cream cheese, a few drops of lemon and some horseradish cream or wasabi for an extra kick!
- Blue Cheese & Walnuts – whip the blue cheese at room temperature and add some chopped walnuts, season with some black pepper and add some fresh chopped parsley. Use Gorgonzola cheese if you prefer.
- Goat’s Cheese & Pesto – to every 100g of soft goat’s cheese, add 2 tablespoons of pesto. Follow my recipe for homemade basil pesto.
- Prawns in a Marie Rose sauce – mix some tomato ketchup and mayonnaise together with a few drops of lemon juice, Tamari (gluten-free soya sauce), Tabasco and white pepper. Mix the Marie Rose sauce with some cooked, small or chopped shelled prawns.
- Tuna & Aioli Mayonnaise – tinned flaky tuna is mixed with garlic mayonnaise, using either store-bought Aioli or my homemade garlic mayonnaise: mince a clove of garlic with 5 tablespoons of good quality mayonnaise and 1 teaspoon of lemon. Add a generous amount of chopped fresh parsley.
- Feta & Red Pepper – whip 100g of feta cheese at room temperature with 2 tbsp of sour cream and add some chopped roasted red peppers or pickled red peppers. Season with plenty of black cracked pepper and fresh parsley.
- Mascarpone & Black Olive Tapenade – Whip the mascarpone at room temperature and mix in 1:1 with my tapenade dip recipe to make this filling.
- Chile con queso – Mix 1 tbsp chopped jalapeño chillies, ½ tsp chilli powder, a clove of crushed garlic, ½ a chopped green pepper/capsicum and 1 chopped tomato into 150g of whipped cream cheese at room temperature.
- Chickpea Hummus – follow my hummus dip recipe to make this filling. Add some whole cooked chickpeas to add a bit of texture.
- Liver or Mushroom Pate & Pickles – Whip your favourite pate at room temperature and add some chopped pickles, season with black pepper and fresh, chopped chives. If your chosen pate is too thick to whip, add a tablespoon or more of single cream to loosen it up.
- Use chopped ham, pastrami or pepperoni instead of bacon in this recipe
Gluten-Free Bacon Choux Puffs
For the gluten-free choux pastry:
- 65 g store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour, sifted
- ½ tsp xanthan gum
- 50 g butter
- 150 ml water, room temperature
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tbsp strong cheese, grated (Gruyère, Emmental, mature Cheddar)
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
For the filling:
- 175 g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 8 bacon rashers, back bacon or streaky
- 4 spring onions, chopped finely
- ½ tsp white pepper
- Prepare the filling first by grilling or frying the bacon rashers until crisp. Allow to cool on some paper towels to absorb any excess oil or fat.
- Chop the bacon and spring onion into very small pieces and add them to the cream cheese and white pepper. Combine well and set it aside. This can be made the day before and chilled.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
- Heat the butter in a medium saucepan with the water. Once the butter has melted, bring it to a boil.
- Add the sifted flour and xanthan gum. Immediately, remove the pan from the heat and vigorously mix with a wooden spoon until a dough forms and no longer sticks to the sides of the pan.
- Leave to cool down for 5 minutes.
- Whisk in the mixed eggs gradually, using a wooden spoon or a benchtop mixer. The choux dough will be a sticky paste that holds its shape. This will take 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes with a mixer. A wooden spoon should be able to stand upright in the dough.
- Spoon the choux dough into a piping bag with a large nozzle or snip off the end of a disposable bag about 1 cm from the tip.
- Pipe 3 cm balls onto a lined baking tray 5 cm apart. Push the piping bag tip lightly into the ball to release the flow. A small spike will be left on the ball, but this can be removed by wetting your finger with some water and gently smoothing down each ball.
- Sprinkle the tops of each ball with some grated cheese and cayenne pepper. This gives some flavour and slight colour to the balls once baked. This step is optional.
- Bake on the top shelf for 7 minutes until golden, crisp and puffed.
- As soon as the choux buns are removed from the oven, make a small cut on the side of each bun with kitchen scissors to release the steam. Return the buns back to the oven to cook a further 5 minutes. They are ready when the balls roll easily when the tray is rocked slightly.
- Leave to cool down on a wire rack.
- Once completely cool, slice each bun in half and fill the bottom half with half a tablespoon-amount of cream cheese mixture either by using a piping bag or two teaspoons to scoop the filling in.
- Place the top of the choux bun over the bacon cream cheese mixture.
- Serve the bacon choux buns straight away as soon as they have been filled, otherwise, store the empty choux puffs in a switched-off oven and fill them when ready to serve. Chill the bacon cream mixture but bring it to room temperature just before inserting the filling into the choux bun.
- Makes 20-22 3cm-buns
- Filling keeps for 2 days chilled
- Choux puffs are unsuitable to chill* and freeze