In a feat of massive pâte à choux proportions, Original Cream Puffs and the Wisconsin Bakers Association (WBA) set the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest cream puff during the 2011 Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee.
“It’s not something I ever hope to have to do again,” laughs Dave Schmidt, Certified Master Baker and executive director of the WBA. “But we’ve got the world’s best cream puff operation so there’s no reason we shouldn’t set the record.”
The minimum weight required for the record was 44 lbs., and the shell had to be baked in one piece, which presented the biggest challenge. “When we spoke with the Guinness people, we understood why no one had gone for it. Trying to bake a pâte à choux that size is a feat in itself because it’s so hard to control.”
After considerable trial and error, the temperamental pâte à choux was baked for 6.5 hours at 400°F in a deck oven converted to propane gas. It took Schmidt and a fellow team member 45 minutes to carefully split the shell without cracking it before filling the pastry with whipped cream made from 15 gallons of heavy cream. When it was all said and done, the record-setting cream puff was 38 ins. wide, 7.5 ins. tall and weighed 125.6 lbs. Schmidt decided to “go big or go home” in the attempt to ensure no one went after the record for awhile.
“I’m very humbled and honored to be recognized as doing this for State Fair Park and the WBA,” Schmidt says. “It’s really cool and one of those things you put on your resume as a highlight of your career–though it was the ugliest piece of pastry I’ve ever made in my life.”