This classic recipe for choux pastry bakes up into airy, tender puffs, and can be used for anything from sweet cream puffs to cheesy gougères. Slideshow: Cooking Techniques to Perfect
Preheat the oven to 400°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large saucepan, combine the water, butter, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a tight dough forms and pulls away from the side of the pan, 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
In a bowl, beat 7 eggs and add to the dough in four batches, stirring vigorously between additions until the eggs are completely incorporated and the pastry is smooth. The dough should be glossy and very slowly hang, stretch and fall from the spoon in thick ribbons. If necessary, beat in the remaining egg.
Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe 1 1/2-inch mounds onto the baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between them. Proceed with Step 4 of one of the following three choux recipes: Chouquettes, Gougères, or Cream Puffs.