Thursday, 27 May 2010

Daring Bakers May : Croquembouche

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.
I was really excited for this month's challenge, I love anything like this and all of my family adore things such as profiteroles that are filled with a delicious pastry cream! However I actually found this Daring Baker's challenge quite the challenge hehe! Me & choux pastry have never really gotten along, I can never really get it to puff up and fill out properly, it always seems like it has in the oven but as soon as I take it out it always seems to deflate :(. This month's challenge pretty much the same happened, some of my choux buns were puffy but others were just flat and deflated making them really difficult to fill with the caramel pastry creme I made. After filling them with the caramel pastry creme I made I topped them with a chocolate glaze and attempted to stack them...I have to say this was one of the messiest challenges I have ever had hehe there was pastry creme and chocolate everywhere...all over the floor, the benches, my mams mouth hehe!! When stacked because my buns weren't perfectly round it wasn't really the conocical croquembouche that you would see at a French wedding so me and my mam joked on and decided to rename ours the Crooked Bush hehehe! I then finished my "crooked bush" with spun sugar. Hope everyone else enjoyed the challenge. :)


Caramel Pastry Creme
6 ounces sugar
¼ cup water
2 cups milk
1 ¼ ounce cornstarch
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
½ ounce unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine 5 ounces of the sugar and the water in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, brush down the sides of the pan with water, and boil for 8 to 10 minutes, or until caramelized. The sugar will be fragrant and a deep amber color when it is caramelized. Remove the pan from the heat and dip the bottom into an ice water bath for a second or two.
2. Slowly stir in the milk. Return the pan to low heat and stir until smooth. Increase the heat to medium and heat to a simmer.
3. Meanwhile, whisk together the cornstarch and remaining 1 ounce of sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in the egg and yolks. Continue whisking while adding the hot caramel mixture in a thin stream.
4. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it thickens and just comes to a boil. Immediately strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl and stir in the butter and vanilla. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate.

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

1. Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
1. Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

2. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

3. Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.

4. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes.

5. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

1. Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.

2. Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.

3. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

1. Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.

2. Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

Chocolate Glaze
8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate

1. Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.


1. When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

2. You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern.

3. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best. Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up.


Paris Pastry said...

Holy! I could just dive right in! It looks fantastic, truly! I bet it took a lot hours and work to make - but then again, you wouldn't be a 'daring baker' if it hadn't!

Haley said...

I'm going to try it as soon as we get some caramel pastry creme! :)

Suzler said...

WOAH! Okay, now I'm really craving croquembouche. That looks like the type of dessert you'd want to dive hand and head first into, never mind the mess!

I definitely felt challenged this month. I had to make the choux buns twice because the first batch was so awful! Good fun though.

Renata said...

Wow, looks amazing!

Julie @ Willow Bird Baking said...

The crooked bush -- I LOVE IT!! haha! But I think it looks just perfect, and so yummy! Awesome job!

Happy Cook said...

Looks so goood and I am all infavour with teh chocolate glaze :-)

Anonymous said...

That looks delicious, something no chocolate lover could resist!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm... in my mind, messy equals delicious. This looks simply delectable! My first batch of pate a choux pastries came out all flat, too, so I used them as the base for the bottom. They were still really tasty.

Anonymous said...

Very nicely done! Love it!

Baking Addict said...

Looks good to me :) Great job on the spun sugar.

jess (fushmush) said...

I'm impressed you even attempted a croquembouche! I think it looks pretty delicious too (and that's the important thing, right!)

tease-spoon of sugar said...

Your "crooked bush" looks absolutely delicious! The caramel pastry cream sounds amazing too.

Mary said...

It looks great! I made a huge mess too, and then ran out of the house with my croquembouche!

Cakebrain said...

wow! that looks amazing! I love croquembouche!

Sue Sparks said...

Caramel pastry cream, and chocolate? Mmmmmmm, delicious! I just want to dig in:) Fantastic!

Ingrid said...

LOL, you and your mom are pretty silly! :)

Kudos on conquering this challenge!

Aparna said...

YOur arrangement looks so pretty. I just didn't have the time to do it this month. :(

Anonymous said...

great name! I am going with the chocoalte glaze next time (easier on the teeth!)

anjelikuh said...

The chocolate shavings look amazing on your croquembouche! And the layers of chocolate make it even more irresitable. You did a wonderful job on the challenge!

Lisa Michelle said...

Not only is your croquembouche gorgeous, but the fact that it's filled with caramel pastry cream is making me want to pull it off your page (along with chocolate cupcakes above) and sit here for hours until I consume every last crumb! Beautifully done, Natalie!

Barbara Bakes said...

Your crooked bush looks delicious with all that yummy chocolate!

bake in paris said...

Rich and chocolatey, the way I love it :-)

Sawadee from Bangkok,