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.
The recipe is here http://thedaringkitchen.com/sites/default/files/u11/43_Croquembouche_-_DB_May_2010.pdf I have to thank Cat because I really had a blast making this, and it tasted great as well!
The best part of Daring Bakers is that is makes you actually try things that you have read about but not actually made. The May challenge was to make a croquembouche. I am not that crazy about cream puffs, but I had never tried to make gluten free pate a choux. So, that was my personal challenge. I tried the recipe included in the link above from daring bakers but with gluten free flours, I also tried a batch with an adaptation of a recipe from Bette Hagmans Gluten Free Goumet. Both turned out good, but the adapted Betty Hagman recipe has the best inner holes in the puffs, so I used them to make the piece montee. I will post my version of the gluten free pate a choux shortly.
I also tried to make a spun sugar coating which is traditional in Croquembouche, and giove it the needed crackle when you eat it. I used a recip from Dessert Circus, one of my favourite baking books for French baking. Well, I made an absolute mess in the kitchen, but I had a ball doing the spun sugar decorations.
This is the first time I have treid to make spun sugar, and it is a little challenging and takes practice. What I learned is that you have to let the syrup cool a little before using. Also, you have to hold the fork up really high until the sugar stretches, that is what makes the fine threads. I used one of my little experiments to top the croquembouche, and added pansies (I have warned my husband not to weed up all the pansies, they have come in very handy for decorations lately). Overll, this Daring Bakers challenge was really interesting and expanded my culinary repetoire.