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.
Better late than never. Better soon than later for Daring Bakers to find out that I’m usually, not to say almost always late for everything.
Compared with last month’s challenge, this one was really promising and I planned how I will do it considerably earlier and at time, but ….. :(.It is the same kind of pastry in Croatia called boiled or steamed dough. Pastry made of it and filled with Vanilla Crème Patissiere we call Princes Donuts.
In France makes them smaller, assembly in mountain shape and in that shape it is very popular as a wedding cake.It is also known as Croquembouche (crunch in the mouth).
My first and only, until now, attempt at making Princes donuts, wasn’t the best, although I very often makes a dumplings from similar kind of dought. Taste corresponded to what should be, but the look doesn’t as they went wide. I briefly looked at the already published this month DB posts and saw that most of participants concluded that the 4 eggs in recipe for the Pate a Choux are too much, and I think it happened to me with my first attempt of making a Princes Donuts, and besides, I remembered Selma and also one Maja’s friend warned me after that first failed attempt of mine, that it must be a problem of too much eggs, so I decided to reduce the quantity of eggs.
I used the recipes Cat gave us as guide and made my first Croquembouche. I made cream the night before and stored it in airtight container overnight. The next day a made a Pate a Choux. You can make the dough also day before, but be sure, after they cooled to room temperature to stored it in a airtight box overnight.
For toping our choux and assemble piece montee we were alowed to use chocolate or hard caramel glaze. Unfortunately I decided to use hard caramel glaze.
While it was a piece of cake assembling piece montee without any glaze, when I started with the caramel, the horror began.
After I have burned my fingertips for a third time I gave up trying to get the shape of the mountain. Despite the fact that my piece montee looks like a children’s handicrafts, it was delicious, and important thing to me is that I’m pleased with both recipes, for dough and for the creme.
My husband already said: OK., dough and the filling turned out great, now you can make all over again, without hard caramel glaze and in the size at least tennis balls! 🙂
Croquembouche/Piece Montee - Daring Bakers' Challenge - May 2010
Vanilla Crème Patissiere for filling: (I decided to make a quantity of 21 piece of Pate a Choux) so I enlarged the quantity of Creme
- 350 ml whole milk
- 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 150 g sugar
- 1 large egg
- 3 large egg yolks
- 45 g unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp. Vanilla
Pate a Choux : (for 21 piece)
- 130 ml water
- 65 g unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 3/4 Tbsp. sugar
- 95 g all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt (I forgot this, but they still came out nice colored)
Hard Caramel Glaze:
- 225 g sugar
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
Vanilla Crème Patissiere:
- Dissolve cornstarch in 80 ml 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.
Pate a Choux:
- Preheat oven to 220°C. Line baking sheet 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.
- 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. At this point add the remain egg.
- Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip.
- Pipe choux about 2cm part in the baking sheet. Choux should be about 2 cm high and about 2 cm wide.
- 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. (which I also forgot)
- Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).
- Bake the choux at 220°C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.
- Lower the temperature to 180°C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more.
- Remove to a rack and cool.
- It can be stored in a airtight box overnight.
Hard Caramel Glaze:
- 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 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 20 cm) 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, 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.