To celebrate my one year anniversary, I wanted to push myself and make something special that summed up my journey so far.
Croquembouche was the first thing that sprang to mind.
Not only is it a celebratory dessert traditionally served at weddings, baptisms and first communions in France and Italy but it’s also good practice making a few pastry staples – choux buns, crème pâtissière and toffee.
The big challenge for me was going to be assembly, and within a croquembouche mould or cone (I can’t really justify buying one) it was going to be even harder.
I did a bit of research to find out how to do a “freestyle” croquembouche and didn’t find much useful.
Most refer to making a ring with 9-12 buns, then layering up from there.
A few tips I picked up on the last series of Great British Bake Off were that your crème pat helps to stabilise the tower and using crème Chantilly can cause the tower to collapse on itself.
I decided to use a chocolate crème pat which was delicious.
I left myself two hours to complete the whole job and it pretty much came in on time. The only delay was waiting for the crème pat to cool which took around 30 minutes of sitting around and twiddling my thumbs (that are now burnt and blistered).
The tower itself isn’t exactly a thing of beauty, and if I were going to get into the habit of making these regularly I would invest in a mould.
However, there’s something quite nice and rustic about the shape – it certainly screams “I made this myself” so there’s no chance that anyone will mistake it for store bought.
Creating the spun sugar was also great fun but I’ll admit I was pretty cautious not wanting to throw sugar around my kitchen and be cleaning it up for the next six months. I actually found it quite useful using dipping tongs into the toffee and then opening them – this created a natural string that you could then pull and manipulate.
Anyway, I would definitely recommend making one of these just once in your life – just for the hell of it.
- 1 quantity pâte á choux
- 1 quantity crème pâtissière with 80g melted chocolate added just as the mixture is cooling
- Toffee – 2 cups caster sugar plus 4 tbsp water
Fill your choux buns with crème pâtissière.
Dip the top of each bun into the toffee then leave to set toffee side up.
Now get 12 filled and topped buns and dip each into the toffee again but this time coat the bottom of the bun and place directly onto your serving plate in a circle.
Now repeat the process with a new set of buns but use these to fill the circle. You should now have a solid base for your croquembouche.
Repeat with the remaining buns until you have created a stack of buns with one final bun sitting on the top.
Dip two forks into the remaining toffee. Press the backs of the forks together and hold for 30 seconds. Quickly pull forks apart to make thin strands. Wrap the strands around the croquembouche.