Thursday, 27 May 2010
gluten free pièce montée (Daring Bakers May 2010)
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.
So, this month's Daring Baker challenge was to make a pièce montée or croquembouche. This is an epic 3-D dessert of French and Italian origin and are served as wedding and baptism cakes in France.
A proper croquembouche (and mine is not quite) is a gravity defying pyramid of choux pastry puffs filled with sweet pastry cream and drizzled in caramel or maybe chocolate to provide some glue for construction purposes. When I first figured out that the puffs were constructed around an inedible cone I was a bit disappointed, much the same as I when I (finally) realised that the 'celebration' cakes that languish in the windows of some bakeries are actually foam-filled moulds - Pah, humbug!
I decided that I wanted my version to be all edible though as a result, it is slightly less impressive than the architectural cone or cocktail stick versions.
The challenge recipe did not provide a gluten free alternative recipe so I used a recipe that I have been working on.
It isn't quite perfect or foolproof yet, so whilst the piped shapes puff up beautifully, they are not completely hollow inside. Since I need to be able to fill the puffs with pastry cream, I cut a little hole out of the bottom of each puff and picked out the filling (which tends to sit on the bottom of the puff) then piped the filling in and replaced the bottom.
I used the suggested recipes for the sweet pastry cream which were chocolate and vanilla so filled half the choux pastry balls with each variety. I like the element of surprise with different fillings, though last time I made this dessert with a raspberry mousse filling which was lovely too.
The most fun however, was in the decoration: spun sugar. It was a damp day when I made the decoration which is not the best weather to be working with this delicate confection, you really need a dry tim environment, not Spring time (or any other time) in England. I had to work fairly quickly to make the shapes then build the dessert and photograph it before the sugar softened. I had no more than a couple of hours before the sugar began to soften and warp and the dessert began to gently collapse. I got a bit carried away with the sugar spinning and made loads more than I needed. Luckily the teen feels a need for empty calories (her definition) today so is crunching her way through it now!
And there we have it, a really fun daring baker challenge. I will publish the recipe once I have put the finishing touches to this gluten-free choux pastry recipe, then you should have a go at making one too.