Daring Bakers May – Pièce Montée

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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.

As soon as I saw this recipe, I had three thoughts:

1. I SO do not need a whole croquembouche hanging around the house;

2. YIKES – that’s scary and

3. Oooh – pâte à choux? I can make these:

Yes my friends, that is what is known as a profiterole énorme and you can find it at Café de la Musique (Paris) – where I met Véronique from French Cooking for Dummies in December.  The above photo was taken in the summer of 2006 when I was back there studying for my MA and my very good friend Liz came over to visit at the end of the course when Neil was visiting too.  We had been out the night before (which may or may not have involved a visit to le Caveau de la Huchette where we sat and watched talented French people dance “le swing” and were forced relegated to sitting back with a drink and lament our lack of dance floor prowess!) and earlier in the day had taken a barge ride along the Canal St Martin, ending up at the Cité de la Musique.  We were in need of some sustenance and as soon as we saw the words “Profiterole énorme” on the menu, we knew we had to order that. It was not what I would call énorme but by  French standards, it was!  In any case, it was gobbled up very quickly and I have dreamt about it ever since.

I had a fear of the pâte à choux but it was actually pretty easy – I had one out of two trays come out pretty well (note to self – do not put in more than one tray at once next time):

Even the insides of the failed ones were hollow as they were supposed to be and they tasted right!

Filling the successfully puffed puffs with ice-cream proved to be very challenging and I was happy I only made a half batch!

And there you have it – chic Paris café fare chez vous!!!

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Pâte à Choux

Ingredients:
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

Method:

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.

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. 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).

Baking:

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.

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And because I felt guilty I wasn’t doing the whole croquembouche thing, I *did* make a mini pièce montée:

Which I was pretty happy with. I liked how the choux pastry tasted, they actually didn’t look too shabby and I would totally feel comfortable trying my hand at something a bit more complicated when time permits.  Which is what Daring Bakers is all about, right?

And since we’re speaking of Paris and food, did you check out my latest article for Food Network Canada all about the fabulous cooking workshops at Art Home Paris?

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93 thoughts on “Daring Bakers May – Pièce Montée”

  1. Well aren’t those beautiful?!!! Absolutely stunning and bravo. Funny, I did make the coffee ice cream with the intention of filling profiteroles with them, great minds… great minds my friend…

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  2. A beautiful post of memories past. Your perseverance and will is always impressive. I have not mastered the ability to bake with any of these clubs yet as I am too often daunted with my own life, and my own lists. I need to do this to challenge myself a bit more. A great idea, and I am sure Mr. Neil was thrilled with your beautiful treats.
    🙂
    Valeire

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  3. Mardi – yours looks GREAT! Feeling much envy for your hollowed puffs. What filling did you use on the very top photo? It’s making me quite hungry…

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  4. You have definitely outdone yourself with these airy choux pastries. I was looking at a recipe this morning for these thinking they would never turn out as well as yours if I attempted them. Nicely done.

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  5. Loved your mini pièce montée, especially since it was filled with my favorite thing in the whole wide world! Well done Mardi! 🙂

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  6. Nice job, Mardi! I love how you filled these with ice cream – good call! I’ll admit, the whole piece monte thing has me freaked out (and I certainly didn’t need that around the house!) so I skipped this month.

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  7. Nice job! I much prefer ice cream with these over pastry cream. My puffs would not rise and were like golf balls at 4200 feet altitude. I am bummed, but tried twice and gave up. 🙁

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  8. What a great idea! Ice cream sandwiches for “grown ups!” I don’t think I can let myhusband see this, though, or I might have to make it for him once a week!! Beautiful work on this challenge!

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  9. Oh, fancy tower who needs it? I’d much rather have one of these babies sitting on my plate! Great job, Mardi, and too yummy!

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  10. very elegant little ice cream sandwiches! much more practical than the fancy tower, which, although pretty, seems difficult to actually serve and eat. btw, love nick malgieri!

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  11. I think I had a similar reaction to this month’s challenge! I was super excited and terrified all at the same time… and I definitely didn’t need to eat a whole croquembouche, which is what would happen if I had it around the house! I love the mini version you made… Looks lovely!

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  12. Ooh, great alternative idea! I bet these are eat-them-up-quick treats – that ice cream would make the puff pastry soggy quickly. But oh, the deliciousness!

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  13. Gorgeous and looks absolutely delish! You are brave to put ice cream in it. I would not have dared — ice cream will be happily diverted to my mouth before it reaches the puff. 🙂

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  14. Just joined Daring Bakers yesterday and while I await the July Challenge, I’ve scoured the blogs looking at everyone’s May results. You are the first who I’ve seen to use ice cream instead of the creme patissiere. Great substitution. However difficult it may have been, they look incredible.

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