National Cream Puff Day is celebrated annually in the United States on January 2. Although the treat originated in France, it has been loved by Americans too. These light, airy, cream-filled desserts make our hearts sing. Other desserts may come and go, but we’re team cream puffs forever. And with good reason, might we add.
Cream puffs are a classic; they ooze elegance. The dessert transports us to quaint Parisian cafes, sometimes even farther back in time to Renaissance Europe. Cream puffs are delectable bites of history. We’re glad someone else felt the same way and called for a National Cream Puff Day. Whoever you are, we’re eternally grateful.
History of National Cream Puff Day
The history of cream puffs is a mystery. Culinary historians remain divided, and nobody can agree on who invented this wonderful dessert. What we do know is that the story began somewhere in Europe.
Like all great recipes, this one was passed along by word of mouth — from one pastry chef’s kitchen to the next and eventually crossing international borders.
One theory suggests that Catherine de Medici’s cook invented it. Stories of the legendary pastry made the rounds at her royal court of France. But the account is very likely a myth: Pastry chefs in Renaissance France were already experimenting with dough mixtures of flour, egg, fat, and water. It’s a mixture we would come to know as choux pastry. Others say the origins of the cream puff go back to the Middle Ages. Long before the Medicis and the Renaissance period, French cooks of the 13th century were making puff pastries with delicious cheese and herb fillings.
By the 14th century, cooks were whipping up different versions of cream buns. From pate feuillettée in France to the butter-basted puffs of the English — the pastry comprised the same basic mixture of flour, egg, water, and fat.
The four-ingredient mixture has remained a constant, but how cooks prepare and bake the mix gave rise to different names: puff, profiterole, choux, and buns.
Puff pastries became a culinary phenomenon by the 19th century. Each one had distinct meaning and characteristics. Around this time, the cream puff we know and love became known in pastry circles as the profiterole.
Making cream puffs was an art. Elegant Victorian dinner parties often featured cream puffs in elaborate designs. Sometimes, cooks would make pyramids of tiny, delicate cream puffs that guests could have with after-dinner tea or coffee. In the United States, the first documented mention of the cream puff dates to 1851, at the Revere House Restaurant in Boston.
National Cream Puff Day timeline
The first oven is discovered in Croatia and dates back to this period.
Commercial baking begins in Europe.
Cream bun recipes become popular across kitchens in France and England.
Puff pastries become a trend, with a dedicated fan-following in European culinary circles.
The Revere House Restaurant in Boston features cream puffs on their menu — a first for the restaurant and the country.
Yuji Hirota first launches Beard Papa’s in Japan, a store dedicated to making the best cream puffs in the world.
National Cream Puff Day FAQs
What does 'choux' mean?
Choux is a light, egg-based dough. Pastry chefs use it to make desserts such as cream puffs and eclairs.
Where did cream puffs originate?
Also known as profiterole or choux à la crème, cream puffs originated in France. The recipe became popular in the United States by the 1800s.
What's the difference between a cream puff and a profiterole?
Cream puffs and profiteroles are the same things. Both are choux pastries that come with a cream filling. One of the main differences can be in the filling. Profiteroles usually contain ice cream instead of pastry cream.
How would you describe a cream puff?
A cream puff is a round shell of light pastry filled with whipped cream or a cream filling.
National Cream Puff Day Activities
Eat cream puffs
Forget those resolutions. National Cream Puff Day gives you the license to indulge. Visit your favorite bakery and pick up a box of cream puffs. Enjoy them with coffee, tea, or wine.
Make cream puffs
If you’re new to this, go with classic cream puff recipes. Baking experts can consider trying unique variations to the cream puff. Think chocolate, ice cream, or whip cream fillings.
Pick up a recipe book
Add to that impressive recipe book collection today. Buy a book on French dessert techniques. You’ll find some that are devoted to the art of making choux pastry.
5 Facts About Pastry That Will Blow Your Mind
Origins of pastry
Cooks in Egypt, Greece, and Rome first used the filo-type pastry to make fruit pastries, tarts, honey cakes, and sweet dumplings filled with nuts and dates.
Sacred beginnings in Italy
Nuns in Naples were the first to introduce pastry in Italy, which they baked and sold to support themselves financially.
The croissant has Austrian roots
The Viennese 'Kipferl' goes back to at least the 13th century and is the O.G. ancestor of the croissant.
Pastries didn’t come from Europe
Europeans were introduced to pastry by Muslim groups who invaded the continent in the 7th century.
Boston cream pies aren’t pies
We don’t know the origins of this confusion, but they’re actually cakes, not pies.
Why We Love National Cream Puff Day
It’s a classic dessert
When it comes to dessert, the variety today is dizzying. But we’ve found that the best ones are always the classics. Cream puffs are light, airy, and delicious. No frills, just simple and elegant decadence.
It's a delicious import
Even though cream puffs originated in France, people across Europe and America have lovingly embraced them. So much so that they continue to be a favorite to this day. Cream Puff Day celebrates this delicious import.
It tests our culinary skills
National Cream Puff Day also puts our culinary skills to test as we set out to create our recipes of cream recipes. The recipe needs patience and rewards those who master it to perfection.
National Cream Puff Day dates