Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Adventures in Domesticity - Croquembouche

Having loads of time on my hands, which could clearly be better spent desperately searching for a job or unpacking the ridiculous number of boxes still left in my room--I've lately been embarking on casual journeys into domesticity. Sewing, knitting, cooking--no household activity is safe. Even cleaning (the kitchen pantry cupboards and the hall coat closet so far) is on the list of possible daytime destinations.

Now, with a milestone birthday quickly (too quickly?) approaching, I've been trying to figure out what to have as my birthday cake. Three-tiered white cake with custard filling, butter cream frosting, and animal print designs? Too much like my sister's birthday cake this year. (No one wants to be a biter--let alone a birthday cake biter.) Birthday pie? Been there, done that, last year. Cupcakes? Too cutesy. Some cake made out of a mold bought at Michael's? Every birthday cake I had as a child just doesn't seem to cut it for the quarter-century. I was just about to settle for little petit four cakes when came across this post by Mary over at Confessions of a Craft Addict.

Croquembouche! Of course! Who doesn't want to eat little cream puffs filled with pastry creme of all flavors and coated with loads and loads of sugary threads?

So tonight was the first dabble into baking profiteroles. I used Ina Garten's profiterole recipe. It really is a pretty simple recipe, and I'm proud of my first attempt at making pate a choux. The bottoms of the puffs were a little too brown but still made that hollow sound when tapped. The insides were undercooked, so I don't know how they made that hollow sound, but they did.

Lessons learned? First, I need to use a bigger piping tip. The puffs have the curly appearance of pastry poop because I had to make these tiny spirals on top of tiny spirals in order to get the size of dough dollop the recipe called for. I tried smoothing out the dough with my finger, but you can still clearly see the spirals when the profiteroles puffed up in the oven. I'm hoping that a bigger tip will also help give them more a more even size. Second, use convection setting on the oven. Some internet research tells me that the air will help puff the pastry and give it a light and airy inside. Third, cook the flour a little longer because it could still be tasted in the final puff. 'Course, that could be the undercooked dough talking.

Only eight days and counting (shit!) until the b-day. I've got to make quick progress on my profiterole skills in order to make my "crunch in the mouth" tower. An early start tomorrow should lead to at least a couple of attempts. And, maybe I'll manage to squeeze in a couple of job applications as well. Eh. Here's to hoping.
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1 comment:

  1. Ooooh! Yummmmm! Makes me want to make another, although I hope I wouldn't burn my fingers a second time. Or end up with just a mound of puffs. LOL!