In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, sugar and salt. Slowly heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring frequently to dissolve sugar and melt the butter. Once sugar is dissolved and butter is melted, increase the heat to medium high heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
When the mixture comes to a boil, remove the saucepan from heat and add flour all at once. Quickly mix the mixture until all the flour is absorbed. (We just made panade!)
Replace the saucepan back to burner and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the dough, continuously mixing with a wooden spoon. The dough will start to form into a ball. Keep mixing for another 3-4 minutes until light crust forms on the bottom of the pan. (Note: It's important to cook for at least 3-4 minutes to dry out the panade.)
Transfer the dough into a mixing bowl with paddle attachment and mix it for a few minutes on low speed until the mixture is at room temperature, about 2 minutes. (No mixer? No problem. You can mix it with a wooden spoon!)
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. This will help to get egg absorbed into the dough quicker. Don’t add more than 2 eggs at a time! This's especially important, as you might not need to the last egg. The dough should be smooth and shiny, thin enough to slowly fall into a ribbon, but too runny. (See visual cues in the post above, or in the video!)
Transfer the batter into a large pastry bag and rest for at least 1 hour. At this point choux pastry is done and ready to be piped into whatever size you want. Uncooked dough can also be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) about 30 minutes prior to baking the choux pastries. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, or silicone mat.
To cook pastry shells, pipe the batter into desired shape, depending on what you're making. For eclairs, pipe into 4-inch strips, for cream puffs pipe into 2-inch rounds 3 inches apart.
Level peaked tops with a wet fingertip.
Bake, one baking sheet at a time, for 30-35 minutes, or until the shells are puffed up and golden brown. (Note: Don't open the oven door the first 25 minutes.)
After initial 30 minutes, quickly open the oven door and make a small slit on the side of shells, using a small sharp pairing knife. This allows the steam to escape and helps to dry out the inside of pastry shells. Bake for another 5 minutes, or until shells are crisp and golden brown.
Transfer the shells onto a wire rack and cool completely before filling.