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.

Hello, it's that time of month again!
I was really really REALLY stoked  when I found out what this months challenge was. Been wanting to make a croquembouche for a couple of YEARS now, but never plucked up the kahoonas to try. Another upside to the Daring Bakers, I guess I'm a wee bit more Gryffindor than I thought I was. ;-)

Alright, for those who are out of the loop, a piece montée, or croquembouche is a tower of creampuffs held together by a glaze, usually chocolate or caramel. People in France traditionally make this instead of the usual wedding cake. A professional one is supposed to look like this :

Ok, so mine didn't quite turn out as a tower.
More like a lopsided molehill really.
I made only half the recipe, because there aren't too many people at home and there was NO WAY a full sized croquembouche  was going to be finished, especially considering that this dessert has to be served ASAP. I filled the cream puffs with a coffee pastry cream and for the glaze I used caramel. It looked really pretty up close, but was really difficult to eat. The caramel made it almost impossible to pick an individual cream puff off without either:
a) ripping it in half, OR
b) ripping its immediate downstairs neighbour in half.
I think my pastry cream was a bit too sweet too, would cut down the sugar next time I do this. The best part about making the piece montée was the caramel strands surrounding the cream puffs. Sure, I got burnt a couple of times (OUCH, by the way) but that didn't stop me from flicking sugar like mad all over the thing.
and on myself.
and the kitchen table.
and the floor.
and maybe a little on my kitchen scale.

All in all, I had fun with this challenge. It may have seemed overwhelming in the beginning, but once I broke it down, it was a relatively enjoyable task. Albeit a rather long one. It you'd like to try to make this ( and you should. It's one of those things everyone should try before we get sent off to that big bakery in the sky ) then the recipe and instructions are here on the Daring Kitchen website.
Also, try to check out the creations of the other Daring Bakers on the blogroll. There are some that'll blow your mind!
Till next time, Ciao!


May 4, 2010

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

Boy am I LATE huh?
*brushes dust off blog*
Sorry bout that folks, I couldn't find my pictures until 2 days ago (they were still in my camera). But all hiccups aside, atleast I'm FINALLY posting, right?

So, let's get started.  Steamed English Pudding. This is going to be quite a short post, cause I don't really have much to say about it. The challenge was easy enough but quite frankly we weren't too nuts about it, infact the pudding was still sitting in the fridge 3 weeks after I made it. It tasted a bit odd really, but then again that's probably the recipes fault. I did like steaming the pudding, it came out nice and moist and a little spongy too. wasn't too hard to do either, but that's probably cause I have an actual steamer. I used chinese bowls to steam the sponges in, so they came out in really cute domes. As for using suet, the only one I could find was made from beef and due to religious issues, that's a bit of a no no for me. I used shortening instead. Also, for the fruit I threw in a little something special. For the past 4 months, I've had a container of fruitsoaking in brandy in my fridge. And when I say soaking, I mean SOAKING. I don't even remember what fruit I have in there anymore, but I do know it smells strong. Funnily enough, the pudding didn't taste very alcohol-ly when it was done. I served the cooked pudding with custard sauce on top. On the whole, a very -meh- tasting challenge. I will do it again, but I'll be wanting a different recipe to use. I have NO IDEA where this one came from ( I was searching and printing out a lot, OK?), Heck, I don't even remember what it's CALLED. So if anyone DOES know, just give me a shout. :-)
~ 90g self raising flour
~ pinch of salt
~ 90g breadcrumbs
~ 90g shreaded suet (again, I used shortening)
~ 90g raisins
~ 160g currants
~ 30g candied peel
~ 60g brown sugar
~ 1 egg
~ 6tbsp milk

Mix everything together, divide into molds and steam for 1 and a 1/2 - 2 hours. (OMG this has got to be the SHORTEST set of instructions I've EVER written on this blog.)

Please head on down to the Daring Bakers blogroll to check out what the others have done. It'll look pretty damn amazing! => http://thedaringkitchen.com/blogroll/bakers