27 May 2010

Daring Bakers: Piece Montee

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 beyond excited for this challenge. I've always wanted to tackle the croquembouche ever since the first time I watched my aunt make profiteroles for my cousin's wedding (that woman is a goddess in the kitchen). I wanted to go bigger though. I was going to make three different fillings for mine that would all be good in their own right but even better when eaten together. Such big plans! I even decided to hold an impromptu tea party so I wouldn't have to eat all of those puffs myself (and you know I would have).

Last Wednesday, I spent an hour locked in the meat department at the gorcery store waiting out the tornados that decided to blast through Tulsa. I baked my first two batches of puffs through tornado warnings and sirens going off. By midnight, I had 24 flat cream puffs with no bottoms (my first mistake was forgetting to purchase more parchment paper while on lockdown at the store). I was miserable, hot, tired, and just ready to go to bed. Of course that meant only one filling got made, but I just didn't care at that point.

I came home during my lunch break the next day (the day of my tea party) to make new puffs, with the parchment paper this time. This time they were light and airy with bottoms. Yay! These ones could actually be filled (and special thanks goes out to hubby for pulling them out of the oven since I had to go back to work). Hubby and his sister filled them with my banoffee pie filling that I made (take all of the ingredients that goes into a banoffee pie, minus the crust, mix it all together, and now you've got your filling).

It didn't come out quite as big as I wanted, nor did it look very pretty, but everyone loved them. My mom even asked me to make a croquembouch for her birthday cake (finally, someone who doesn't want another chocolate cake). I'll use my aunt's recipe for that one and will attempt to make an actual cone shaped masterpiece. For now, here's my oozy, messy piece montee. Bon apetit!

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.
  2. Preparing batter: 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.
  3. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  4. 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. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.
  5. Piping: 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.
  6. 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.Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).
  7. Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. 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. Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.
  8. Filling: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.


Miel Mim said...

Man that looks good! Put that on the list!

[And when was the last time I asked for a chocolate cake for my birthday huh? I believe it's just our father who wants that every year.]

Sharon's Mum Anne said...

Your recipe took me right back to the 70s when dinner parties were all the rage and I made choux pastry for the first time - I was so proud of myself.

Wolf said...

After all that, I think you did a great job!

Mr. P said...

I need to get in on this DB thing. Look at all the amazing skills you lot develop!