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Daring Bakers: Pièce Montée

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Profiterole anyone?
The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a pièce montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

With so little time left after I returned from my trip to Morocco and deadlines to meet at work, I knew I wasn't going to be able to do a good job of the challenge. Sure, I managed to build the pièce montée but it's nothing impressive ­­– not like some of the other Daring Bakers' works.
Two types of filling: Vanilla and coffee
But when I finished making the pièce montée and there was one profiterole left, I didn't want to just pop it in my mouth. I was suddenly inspired to put my manikin* into the picture.
Just one more...
That was the fun part. I had a problem with the pâte à choux. Eyeballing the mixture as I whisked in the egg with an electric hand mixer, I held back on using all the egg as I thought it might make the batter too runny. But I guess it was anyway since it spread out after piping.

I could only get 20 blobs out of the batch ­­– actually I think I could have squeezed out another two pieces, but there was no more space on the tray, so I just added the last bits in the pastry bag to some of the smaller pieces already piped.

Halfway through baking time, the pastry looked like it might rise after all, but no, the pieces remained flat. Worse, when I turned them over, the bases had all curved upwards leaving an indentation.
First batch (from left): piped; and baked. Flat and pathetic, with concave bases. A failure!
Well, there was nothing I could do about that. They came in handy in the centre of the pyramid to hold it up, and I ate them with jam the next day. (They were delicious, by the way.)
But this was a Daring Bakers challenge and I would not hand in shoddy work! So I gave it another try.Again, I didn't add all the egg. Instead, I used only the white from the last one for a stiffer batter and whizzed it up in a food processor (instructions from a Baking Illustrated recipe which I normally use). I am a lousy piper, so I used two teaspoons to shape the pâte à choux, and voilà!
Second batch (clockwise from top left): shaped into smooth blobs with two teaspoons; puffed and browning in the oven; and cooling. Success!
While I won't be winning any prizes for my pièce montée, using the manikin was interesting. 
Aww, he thinks he's the Golden Globe statuette....
The profiterole, however, was inedible by the end of the photo shoot.
* Manikin = mannequin/artists's dummy


  1. Very nicely done! Love it!

  2. I love your mannequin :) Awesome job and great persistence on getting those choux pastry to puff. Great work on the challenge!!

  3. I love the mannequin! And the profiteroles look delicious too.

  4. Your croquembouche was worth the effort - and that of your mannequin! Great work and beautiful job! (Tasty sounding, too!)

  5. I had to make the choux twice too. My first batch was even more flat than this! Second time is the charm.

    Love the mannequin as a prop, very funny :D

  6. Great job on the challenge. Love the mannequin.

  7. Marty,

    Piece Montee looks beautiful. I love it. thanks for visiting my blog.
    I have updated my ingredients list in rye bread recipe.

  8. Your Pièce Montée looks delicious and your pics with the mannequin are very funny! I apologize for any English mistakes, I'm not a native speaker... :o)

  9. Loved the pics with the "model" :) He almost looks like a soccer goallee! Beautifully done!


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