I have been out of blogging scene for almost 2.5 months now. Reason, well a lot of them and genuine ones. First, towards the end of March my family (parents and sister were visiting me) and I wanted to make the most of that time. We had a great family re-union with lots of food being cooked and many places were visited. Second, I went to our annual family vacation to UK. That too was great. These things happen back to back, leaving me no time to blog. I surely missed it and apologies to all of you for not updating it. But I am back now and what a better way to come back with Daring Bakers. Please remain tuned to BakeFresh as I have planned some exciting new posts and recipes for the upcoming months.
First the blog checking lines:
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.
The moment I read this challenge, I knew I had to make it. Its basis (choux pastry) is one of the things I have always had trouble making it. It was only hit and trial before I completed this challenge. I am much more confident not and would like to thanks Cat for brining this up. Obviously I had some issues but it was not disastrous even in the first go. Thanks to Audax for the four points which also helped alot. The issues I had were:
1. I piped them too big which when baked doubled in size yielding even bigger pastries.
2. My choux buns went a bit soft from crispy when i kept them overnight in air tight box, my guess is that they were not completely allowed to cool.
3. I had issues filling them as the cream kept oozing out and same was the case when we were eating them, it was spilling all over.
4. Next time I want to make a tall tall piece montee.
If any of you can mention any pointers regarding the above issues, it would be great.
Now to the recipe:
The recipe is very simple and has three parts, choux , creme patissiere , glaze. All of them are very easy to prepare and the ultimate part of this challenge was to assemble it as piece montee which is essentially a pyramid of profiteroles (cream filled choux buns). This is a traditional dessert many times served as a wedding cake in France.
An interesting thing which you will find interesting is that back home in Pakistan, Karachi, the small profiteroles are often decorated on blackforest cake and once it was a favorite cake in our family.
Following is the recipe with the method copied from Daring Kitchen as is.
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla
Bring ¼ cup (about 50 cl.) milk to a boil in a small pan; remove from heat and add in 3 ounces (about 80 g.) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, and mix until smooth. Whisk into pastry cream when you add the butter and vanilla.
Dissolve 1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder in 1 ½ teaspoons boiling water. Whisk into pastry cream with butter and vanilla.
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
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.
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.
Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.
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.
8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet)
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice
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. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.
3) Asembling Free-standing Croquembouche with Chocolate Glaze:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrIanD5pi9E&feature=related
Here I would like to quote Audax 4 points which I think were the key to success of making this dessert. Thanks Audax.
* Insufficient beating of water, flour and butter before adding eggs – the water/flour/butter batter needs to develop sufficiently (i.e. dried out) to provide structure
* Failure to incorporate eggs one at a time – the eggs need to be beaten enough to provide leavening
* Baking at too low a temperature or removing puffs before fully baked – the water in the dough needs to steam to leaven the dough as well