Archive for the 'Daring Baker’s challenge' Category

April Daring Baker’s challenge – Maple mousse!

When I think of maple syrup I think of Canada in the autumn, with beautiful red leaves on the trees and a slight nip in the air. So this challenge is perfect, as Sydney is feeling the autumn chill and needs the perfect sugary pick-me-up!

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favourite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

Our lovely host Evelyne wanted to share a bit of her maple-syrupy home with us for this challenge. Since Lisa and Ivonne of DB fame challenged her to include an edible container she decided to make a Maple Mousse served in a baked Bacon Cup, topped with a meringue. But luckily she offered alternatives for the bacon-fearers, as I don’t have a fear of bacon but a fear of bacon filled with mousse!

Maple mousse is a wonderful idea, and I was grateful that the mandatory items of the challenge were that we must make a) one of the 2 maple mousse recipes listed, and b) an edible container in which to place the mousse for presentation. Evelyne also allowed us to substitute maple syrup if we couldn’t find any, which is exactly what I had to do.

Since there is a competition for the best edible container, I thought I’d veer from the provided recipes and try a lovely coconut base that I have used before. Sadly when it came to making the container it flopped. So instead I made a little  spoon out of shortcrust pastry, the recipe of which I got from my go-to recipe site. Hopefully the wonderful ladies will forgive me for this and still count me as having completed the challenge!

The maple mousse recipe was easy to follow, and I substituted the maple syrup for 50% red gum honey and 50% golden syrup. The honey flavour was light and very rich. The challenge was fun, and the recipes sound, so thanks Evelyn for setting us such a great challenge!

Recipe Sources:
– Maple mousse is adapted from Jaime Oliver is not my boyfriend
– Pastry decorations are from Not Quite Nigella’s shortcrust recipe

Maple Mousse:

1 cup (240 ml/ 8 fluid oz.) pure maple syrup (not maple-flavoured syrup)
4 large egg yolks
1 package (7g/1 tbsp.) unflavoured gelatine
1 1/2 cups (360 ml. g/12 fluid oz) whipping cream (35% fat content)

Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.
In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).

Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.
Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.

Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.
Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.
Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your containers, top with decorations and serve.

December Daring Bakers challenge: stollen wreath!

I was very excited when I read what December’s Daring Bakers challenge was! I’ve been wanting to make stollen for a long time now, and I even had all the ingredients in the cupboard. I had spied a recipe in the latest BBC Food magazine, but Penny’s recipe seemed more simple and straight-forward so I couldn’t wait to give it a try!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

Stollen is a delicious German Christmas ‘bread’ that is packed with all the same goodies as a Christmas cake. It keeps beautifully fresh and is wonderful toasted with a little butter. The bread takes a little effort and planning, but it is totally worth it. This recipe made a large-looking wreath, but it did not last a week in the Pig Palace! I will definitely be making this one again, very soon. Merry Christmas everyone!

 

Stollen Wreath

Makes one large wreath or two traditional shaped Stollen loaves. Serves 10-12 people
Ingredients

¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) milk
10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath

Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.

Put the raisins in a small bowl, and soak in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To make the dough

Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes. Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests. Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath

Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh – especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.
The stollen tastes even better in a couple of days and it toasts superbly.

Storage
The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.
The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar: Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months. The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and one month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.

 

November Daring Baker’s challenge – crostata!

When I read the heading to this month’s challenge I thought we were making some sort of bread. I’m so happy to say that crostata is actually delicious italian pastry!

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Simona gave us three choices of tart to make, all sounding utterly delicious. As I am still obsessed with creme patisserie after the May DBC, I decided to make my crostata with custard. Unfortunately I decided to make the pastry on one of Sydney’s 30-degree days! At first the pastry just would not work as it kept on getting too soft. I’ll even go so far as to reveal I threw a massive tantrum when Frank came in to help and flicked pastry blobs all over the kitchen counter….

After gathering the blobs and my frayed nerves, I decided to start again. I refrigerated the pastry after every step, and in the end it turned out fabulously. I didn’t have the right sized flan tin, so I used a spring-form cake tin. It gave the custard good height, and baked well. To quote Frank’s brother-in-law, this was one of my best yet! Definitely try it if you’re looking for an italian take on custard tart. Thanks Simona for the great challenge!

Pasta frolla (pastry)

Ingredients:

1/2 c. minus 1 tablespoon [105 ml, 100 g, 3 ½ oz] superfine sugar (see Note 1) or a scant 3/4 cup [180ml, 90g, 3 oz] of powdered sugar
1 and 3/4 cup [420 ml, 235 g, 8 1/4 oz.] unbleached all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1 stick [8 tablespoons / 4 oz. / 115 g] cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
grated zest of half a lemon (you could also use vanilla sugar as an option, see Note 2)
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl

Making pasta frolla by hand:

Whisk together sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
Rub or cut the butter into the flour until the mixture has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice.

Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten eggs into it (reserve about a teaspoon of the egg mixture for glazing purposes later on – place in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use).
Add the lemon zest to your flour/butter/egg mixture.
Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, and then use your fingertips.
Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
Shape the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. You can refrigerate the dough overnight.

Crostata con la Crema

you will need: One batch of pastry cream (Note: For the recipe that I used, see https://lollcakes.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/croquembouche/. Prepare the pastry cream in advance of assembling the crostata)

Assembling and baking the crostata con la crema:

Heat the oven to 350ºF [180ºC/gas mark 4].
Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge, unwrap it and cut away ¼ of the dough. Reserve this dough to make the lattice top of the crostata. Refrigerate this dough while you work on the tart base.
To help roll the crostata dough, keep the dough on top of the plastic wrap that you had it wrapped in. This can help rolling the dough and can also help when transferring the dough to your pan. You can also use parchment paper for this. However, you can also roll the dough directly on a work surface if you prefer.

Lightly dust the top of the dough and your work surface (if you’re rolling directly on a work surface) with flour. Keep some flour handy to dust the dough as you go along.
If the dough is very firm, start by pressing the dough with the rolling pin from the middle to each end, moving the rolling pin by a pin’s width each time; turn the dough 180 degrees and repeat; when it softens, start rolling.
Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8th inch (3 mm) thick.
If you used the plastic wrap or parchment paper as rolling surface, flip dough over the pan, centering it, and delicately press it all around so the corners are well covered. Peel away the plastic wrap.
Trim the excess dough hanging over the edges of the pan. Press the remaining dough around the border into the sides of the pan making sure the border is an even thickness all the way around.

Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork in several places.
Take out of the fridge the reserved pasta frolla you had cut away earlier. Roll it with your pin and cut into strips or use cookie cutters to make small shapes (this is not traditional, but it looks cute); or roll with your hands into ropes.
Cover the bottom of the crostata crust evenly with the pastry cream.
Use the prepared strips or rolls of dough to make a lattice over the surface, or decorate with the cut shapes. (Note: You can use dough scraps to make cookies: see the Additional Information section for some pointers)

Brush the border and strips of dough with the reserved beaten eggs. You can add a drop or two of water to the beaten eggs if you don’t have enough liquid.
Put the tart in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
After 35 minutes, check the tart, and continue baking until the tart is of a nice golden hue. (Note: Every oven is different. In my oven it took 45 minutes to bake the tart until golden.)

When done, remove the tart from the oven and let cool. If you have used a tart pan with a removable bottom, then release the tart base from the fluted tart ring. Make sure the tart is completely cool before slicing and serving.

October Daring Baker’s challenge – Doughnuts!

This was my first Daring Baker’s challenge, and what a fantastic one it was! The challenge forced me to confront my fears of hot oil, with the only downside being that Frank got to see exactly how much of a giant baby I can be. (Yes, he has seen me in a onesie, but this was far more similar to a cry-baby)

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

Lori also encouraged us to make more than one type of doughnut from her recipes provided. And now for my excuses! I would have loved to get completely immersed in this challenge and get creative, but sadly I have just been too frantic to dedicate the time to it, and so I only made one type of doughnut. I will definitely take the recipes away however, and make them another time when things are more calm at the Pig Palace. With my new-found confidence! 😉

I chose to make traditional yeast doughnuts, as these are my favorite kind. I also decided to coat them in cinnamon sugar, as there is nothing better than fresh doughnuts with cinnamon! The recipe was wonderfully straight-forward, and the doughnuts turned out perfectly. The only hitch was the hot oil…
We borrowed a deep-fryer from Frank’s brother, as I was worried about deep-frying for the first time (oh yes!) on a gas stove. When the oil was at the right temperature I became too scared to put the doughnuts in, so I yelled for Frank and made him do the first round (while dancing behind him with all the teatowels we own, as he said this is the best way to put out an oil fire). He made it seem so easy that I pottered on and did the rest, and now I’m keen to try all sorts of other delicious deep-fried goodies!! Frank’s favorite part? The doughnut holes. Bite-sized deliciousness!

Yeast Doughnuts:

Preparation time:
Hands on prep time – 25 minutes
Rising time – 1.5 hours total
Cooking time – 12 minutes

Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size

Ingredients
1.5 cups Milk
1/3 cup butter/margarine
2 pkts Active Dry Yeast
1/3 cup Warm Water
2 large eggs, beaten
¼ cup white Granulated Sugar
1.5 tsp table salt
1 tsp grated nutmeg
4 2/3 cup plain flour + extra for dusting surface
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)
1/4 cup granulated sugar + 2 tsp cinnamon for dusting

Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the margarine/butter is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)
Place the butter in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.
Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.
Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).
Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.
Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time.

Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown (my doughnuts only took about 30 seconds on each side at this temperature).
Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Once cooled toss in cinnamon-sugar mix.

Croquembouche!

I originally started this blog to track my monthly Daring Cook’s challenges, but it rapidly evolved to showcasing whatever gets whipped up in the Pig Palace kitchen. I love the Daring Cook’s challenges, but they only come once a month and I’ve often completed them within the first week! So, being brave, I’ve signed up to be a Daring Baker as well.

I’ve been watching the Daring Baker challenge reveals of my fellow foodies every month, and the Baker’s challenges look like such fun. They also look rather hard! But, I’m a firm believer in putting your head down and doing it. After all, I thought, how hard can something be? (Feel free to scoff at this point, I certainly did in hindsight!)

Seeing a beautiful croquembouche on Not Quite Nigella’s website, I was inspired to give it a try. I wouldn’t normally have dared to try it, but I remembered there was a recipe for it on the Daring Kitchen website for their Bakers’ May challenge. Apparently It was featured on the first season’s Masterchef, but those recipes require a mandatory 5 days in the kitchen and I wanted my croquembouche sooner (and with less effort) than that!

The recipe provided was fantastic. I was convinced every element of the dish would be hard, but in fact it was only the assembly that caused a few tears and a large quantity of sailor-mouth. The Crème Patissiere filling was straight-forward and delicious, and the choux pastry (which I thought was very difficult to get right) turned out light and fluffy. Even piping the custard into the buns was simple. It was just that darned toffee!!

The toffee turned beautifully amber, and then just solidified. I used tongs so I didn’t burn myself, but ended up ripping some of my buns while trying to drag them through the solidified toffee. Then when I held the buns to place them on the plate I touched the toffee and flicked the bun across the room in reflex. The toffee stuck to the counter and the bun rolled away, and I was left nursing a (tiny) blister and a counter covered in hardened toffee. I wasn’t able to decorate the croquembouche as I’d like, but I managed to get it looking like a tower-ish.
Despite the injuries, the effort was definitely worth it! I’ll definitely use the Crème Patissiere and the choux recipe again, but leave out the toffee in future efforts…

Croquembouche – recipe from the Daring Bakers’ May challenge

You will need approximately 10 minutes to prepare the puff pastry, 10 minutes to pipe and about 30 minutes to bake each batch. The crème patissiere should take about 10 minutes to cook and then will need to be cooled for at least 6 hours or overnight. The glazes take about 10 minutes to prepare.

For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere
2 cups (450 ml.) whole milk
4 Tbsp. cornstarch
12 Tbsp. (200 g.) sugar
2 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
4 Tbsp. (60 g.) unsalted butter
2 Tsp. Vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in 1/2 cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat. Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook. Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.

Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 24)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.Preparing batter: Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Piping:
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Baking:
Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool. Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.

Filling:
When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

Hard Caramel Glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

Assembly of your Piece Montée:
You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.

Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue dipping and adding choux in levels using the glaze to hold them together as you build up. When you have finished the design of your piece montée, you may drizzle with remaining glaze or use ribbons, sugar cookie cut-outs, almonds, flowers, etc. to decorate.


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