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 recipes I used for the choux buns and the pastry cream were from the BBC good food website. The more observant of you may have spotted it is now late July and I am posting this challenge about 2 months late… this is a result of abject laziness, an intense couple of months of work and the impeding arrival of our second child.
Compared to making a suet pudding this looked to be a real challenge for me as delicacy and precision are not my fortes generally when handling the sticky stuff. However C.’s second birthday was coming up so it made an ideal project for a pretty party cake. In order to make and assemble the various elements during the working week I made the Croquembouche over the course of 3 days.
Making the choux pastry was easier than I expected although I initially forgot the water which resulted in my pastry resembling nothing more than a superheated roux. Remembering to add the water resulted in a near miraculous transformation and the rest of the process of choux bun creation was simple enough. My piping bag tips were a bit fine for this so I just used the locking ring on the end of the bag with no tip attached and this worked really nicely. To get my buns uniform I placed a macaron template under the baking parchment.
As soon as the pastry was cooked I made a 1cm slit on the side of each bun to let the steam escape. (This stops them turning soggy as they cool).The buns were returned to the oven for a further 5 minutes to dry them out, transferred to a wire rack to cool and then stored in tupperwares.
I made a pastry cream to fill the buns but flavoured with lemon zest and Cointreau (flaming all the alcohol off the booze before adding to the pastry cream as we would be serving to kids). This was also stored in a tupperware overnight in the fridge, the surface of the cream covered with a circle of greaseproof paper to prevent a skin forming. So far… so good…
The buns were crisped up in the oven and then filled with the pastry cream. This sounds hard but is actually very easy.
Mrs W. used her engineering prowess to construct a suitable cone shaped mould from 2 pieces of A2 card lined with foil. This would allow me to assemble the cone from the top down by placing the mould upside down in a large Pimms jug (so the tip was facing downwards) and packing with the filled buns. Melted white chocoalte was applied generously to cement the bus together. The filled cone was placed (still upside down in the jug) to set in the fridge overnight.
The next morning the whole assembly was turned out. The best removal tactic was to cut the mould along one edge and peel it off VERY carefully! Cue drum roll…….
Success! Now it was just left to to decorate with sugar flowers and spun sugar.
Like macarons, this initially looked an intimidating project but given a but of planning was actually fairly easy as each element that comprises the dessert is fairly simple. I was really pleased with the results and I may well do another one for Christmas!