Whilst I am certainly no Eric Lanlard or Antoine Carême in the kitchen, I fancied trying my hand at a Croquembouche, the towering French dessert made of elegantly stacked profiteroles, fused together with caramel. I thought that with some patience and a steady hand, that it couldn't really be that difficult. Could it?!
Rather than following one version, I decided to do my own mash-up of various recipes scattered across the web. Delia's Choux pastry recipe was easy, Raymond Blanc's Crème Patissière recipe was also easy (especially after I put my stamp on it by adding some Cointreau) and the Caramel was easier still. Put all three together and we're rocking and rolling, non!
I rattled around very happily in the kitchen all morning. My Crème Patissière was a triumphant concoction of creamy dreaminess, my golden choux pastry was perfect and light as air and my caramel, a glistening pot of luminous amber. Everything was going swimmingly.
I know you're waiting for it baking chums, so here is the twist in the tale. Maybe I said easy, easy, easy far too quickly. Several hours in and it was time to bring all the magical components of the croquembouche together. Caramel-burnt fingers, soggy bottoms, deflating choux puffs and oozing custard are what followed.
After using the caramel to build the tower, I had intended to clothe it in golden swathes of finely spun sugar but at that point, my saucepan of caramel had begun to look more like an angry, bubbling tar pit and certainly didn't appear to be up for the job.
Alas, my efforts were in vain. Momentarily after I taking this picture, my beloved Croquembouche took a deep sigh, leaned to the left, dramatically muttered the words "I love you all" and then flopped over in an exhausted pile.
I'm sure you'll all be greatly relieved to hear, that I emerged the other side of a monumental pile of pots and pans with custard in my hair and a only a few minor caramel burns. It goes without saying that I shall be parading these like victory scars over the coming week.
I am still pretty pleased with my first attempt. Whilst it may not be thing of great beauty, I have made a Croquembouche. Even if, it only stood upright for five minutes.
Happy World Baking Day!