Thursday, May 27, 2010

Piece Montee - Daring Bakers Challenge May 2010

The May 2010 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montee, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump's Baking School in Manhattan & Nick Malgieri.

Wow this is something that I have always wanted to do but have hesitated as I have never successfully made the cream puffs that make up the tower. The first thing I did was do a trial run of the pastry and they were great, I just made them too big ... so onto the real thing!

Everything went really very well, I did do a trial run of the pastry before I did the final piece but I really didn't need to. By the end of this challenge I had made 4 batches of the pastry and creme filling.

The pastry ... the foundation of the croquembouche!
Pate a Choux (Yield: About 24)
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

Coffee Pate a Chox (Yield: About 21)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
2tsp coffee

Chocolate Pate a Chox (Yield: About 21)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
50g dark chocolate

100 g. all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. I did adjust this to the feel of my oven and ended up quickly rotating the tray and putting them in for a further 5 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.

It said in the instructions that they can be stored in a airtight box overnight. I did this and was not happy as they were softer than I wanted. I was later told to make a small hole in the top of each after they come out of the oven so allow the steam to escape and this will stop them from softening overnight. I will try this next time :)

Fillings ... the yummy stuff inside!

I made 3 different types to match to the 3 types of pastry that I made, all worked very well and were very yummy. Leftovers went well with icecream!

For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
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.

For Chocolate Pastry Cream (Half Batch Recipe):
Melt 50g of chocolate with the butter and add as per before.

For Coffee Pastry Cream (Half Batch recipe)
Dissolve 1 ½ teaspoons instant coffee and wisk in with the egg mixture.

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.

Assembly ... making the creation!

Dip the tops of your puffs into either chocolate or toffee to give the 'crunch' effect. I did both and then with some of the chocolate ones dipped them into 'hail' sugar, a sugar designed not to dissolve.

Chocolate 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)

Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.

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:
Ok I did just try to grab pieces and glue them together with the caramel glaze, it didn't really work and the instructions did speak about working out the best combination before etc but I was pressed for time as my guests were arriving in about 10 minutes, I think this may be part of the reason it is a little lopsided, the other reason is that the plain pastry did appear to puff up more that the flavoured pastry.
Overall this looked a little lopsided but all the guests loved it and it tasted great. The next time that I make this type of dessert I will 'glue' it together with chocolate as this is a lot easier to work with.

1 comment:

  1. Great work! I love the "hail" sugar you've dipped them into. I've seen it used by pastry chefs - but haven't noticed it in the shops - I'll have to keep a look at - as yours looks beautiful!