|From Adriana Baking|
As spring creeps by and summer slowly sneaks up on us, everyone at school becomes impatient for the long summer days that are soon to come. Barbecues, grills, the 4th of July. . . No one feels like doing homework or studying for exams, let alone sit for hours on end in a hot, stuffy classroom, listening to the teacher drone on and on in a monotonous voice about the importance of balancing equations. No one wants to take pop quizzes or unexpected tests because the teachers have suddenly realized that they have not recorded enough grades in their grade book.
As school comes to an end, everyone is alive with the thought of summer vacation. All my friends are doing something exciting, whether they are moving away or spending their summer at a camp. But most of them will be practicing their hobbies and doing what they love. This summer, I plan to bake as much as I can. During the school year I don’t have as much time as I would like to bake challenging and time consuming desserts, and honestly, challenging desserts are my favorite.
I joined the Daring Bakers with the hope that I would find challenges that were of a conceivable difficulty and fun. I wanted to make something that would let me express my creativity, and I wanted to join this group that most food bloggers are a part of. I found so much more than that in this month’s challenge.
|From Adriana Baking|
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 planned to make the croquembouche so it would be ready the day of my father’s birthday. I made the pastry cream a couple days before, and the puffs were ready the day before. We could chose whether we wanted a chocolate drizzle over our croquembouche, or caramel spun sugar. My father loves caramel so I chose that. I also made caramel spirals. The recipe, as well as a tutorial, can be found here . Since it was my first Daring Baker’s challenge, I decided to keep everything simple. I had a little trouble stacking up the puffs, so my tower was a little lopsided. I really enjoyed this month’s challenge; thank you Cat!
|From Adriana Baking|
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 (I skipped the egg wash)
Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
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.
Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch) (I had to make two batches to fill all the puffs)
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
Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.
Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.
Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.
Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.
Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.
Hard Caramel Glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.
Assembly of your Piece Montée:
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.
Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée (croquembouche), 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. (You may want to use toothpicks to hold them in place).
When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate. Have fun and enjoy! Bon appétit!