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've been wanting to make a croquembouche for the longest time but never had an opportunity to try it. So when I saw this month's Daring Bakers' challenge I was so excited. I made the mistake of making this croquembouche a hot humid day so my sugar didn't really come out the way I wanted it to. Overall I think it's a good first try. Enjoy!

Crème Patissiere
(adapted from Michel Roux)

6 egg yolks
125g caster sugar
40g plain flour
500ml milk
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways (or 1 Tbl of vanilla extract)
icing sugar or butter


Combine the egg yolks and a 1/3 of the sugar in a bowl and whisk to a light ribbon consistency. Whisk in the flour thoroughly.

In a pan, heat the milk with the remaining sugar and the vanilla pod or extract. As soon as it comes to a boil, pour the milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly as you do. Mix well then pour back into the saucepan and return to the heat.

Bring to a boil over a medium heat, whisking constantly. Allow the mixture to bubble, while still stirring constantly for about 2 minutes, then tip into the bowl.

To prevent a skin from forming, dust the surface with a think veil of icing sugar or dot over with little flakes of butter. Alternatively you could also place a sheet of baking paper over the entire surface.

Once cold, you could keep the crème patissiere in the fridge for up to three days. Remove the vanilla pod before using the pastry cream.

As written by The Daring Bakers

Pate a Choux

(Yield: About 28)

175ml water
85g unsalted butter
¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbl sugar
125g plain flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets 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. (You can also an electric mixer to speed up the process and save your arm strength).

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. 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 the egg wash.

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.

To Fill profiteroles

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.

Hard Caramel Glaze

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

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 8 inches) 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.

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.


maybelle's mom said...

i agree--great first attempt.

Barbara Bakes said...

Love the texture on your puffs. I think I would have preferred a softer caramel. Your tower looks scrumptious!

chef_d said...

I like the way your croquembouche turned out, looks delicious!

GourmAndrea said...

Your finished piece is really appealing it reminds me of glazed donuts. I find the outside texture of your choux interesting did you so something different to get the striped exterior?

Sue said...

Good job on your croquembouche! Your cream puffs look so round and perfect!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What a beautiful croquembouche!



Priya Suresh said...

Cute and elegant croquembouche..

Peter M said...

Did you crack this and make the whole tower come tumblin' down? A delicious demolition!

Wolf said...

Lovely job!}:p

Sara said...

Love it! I like how you used the fluted tip to make the creampuffs so they have that cute design on them!

Jacque said...

Oooh, yea, heat and humidity are not a friend of sugar. Your croquembouche still looks wonderful. Nice job!

Dewi said...

Oh wow, well done. Your croquembouche look delicious and pretty!

Girl Foodie said...

I love croquembouche and your recipe looks absolutely delightful. I love the addition of vanilla to your creme!

Lovely blog!

email stationery said...

i have always been wanting to make this. i totally love this! thanks!

Email Letterhead said...

woww , thank you ka ^ ^

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