Blissful Bites

May 27, 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.

We could cover the profiter rolls in chocolate (I know, a profitter roll encased in chocolate, none of this drizzling or dipping in just the top bit, oh no) or in crisp toffee. I chose to do both, as I’ve not tried either way before. I also chose a chocolate pastry cream, as I’m already comfortable with vanilla.

I was pretty dissapointed in the choux recipe, mine didn’t puff at all and took forever to cook. I’ve never had trouble with the eclair choux recipe I have, and have lots of deliscious pastry cream left over, so will have to be making some from this recipe to finish it off. I did pipe the profitter rolls small though, so maybe this made a difference?

I used an online tutorial recommended by other DB’s to try my hand at sugar cork screws, as I wasn’t game to try the spun sugar, mostly as I thought it’d get wasted at the end of the day. The screws were fun to make and looked great. I had trouble sticking my rolls together, so just balanced them in a pyramid and topped it with a fantasy flower made of some rolled out fondant that I shaped, I rather liked how it turned out 🙂

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):
Bring ¼ cup (about 50 cl.) milk to a boil in a small pan; remove from heat and add in 3 ounces (about 80 g.) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, and mix until smooth. Whisk into pastry cream when you add the butter and vanilla. I used a lovely Greens Mayan chocolate, that had a hint of orange flavour and just tasted wonderfully different in the pastry cream, so it wasn’t too clawingly sweet 🙂 I highly recommend it.

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

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.

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.

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.


A tale of two cakes

May 6, 2010

Two cakes, one a ‘mermaid catching the ultimate fish’ engagement cake for a friend. Dark and white chocolate tiered mudcakes covered in buttercream and rolled fondant, and piped butter cream seaweed and flowers with fondant figures.

happy couple

Blue themed topsy turvy cake, 3 tiers banana cake covered in dark choc ganache, and covered in rolled fondant and fondant frangipanie flowers.

Hoping I can enter an ameture competition for cake decorating and baking in a couple of weeks, if I have time between my advanced life skills course and cleaning up after bus rollovers with multiple patients at work! Busy days!