Monday, March 7, 2011

Adriano Zumbo's MasterChef Croquembouche

Thanks to Ms Red and E for their fab photography skillz.

As promised, I have regained my blogging mojo in a spectacular fashion. I spent the weekend in Ms Reds Bunbury apartment, attempting in the infamous MasterChef croquembouche.

It was nothing short of a mission (and I only did a half batch!). I started at about 9, and we were done by 5, with another hour or so to clean up the mess I created in her tiny kitchen (most of that time was spent de-toffying the benchtops, floor and saucepans...). That said, I didn't attempt this at a MasterChef like pace - Ms Red and I went out for a spot of shoe shopping and then broke for lunch in the middle of it all.

I'm not going to give you the recipe for this one - it's on the MasterChef website, and to be honest, it's mammoth, and will take up a whole lot of space.

I started with the choux pastry, and unfortunately don't have many pictures of this, as Miss Red was indisposed (read: in the shower) when I started off. Before adding the eggs it was quite crumbly, but did hold together when pressed (a bit like shortcrust pastry). I had my doubts about it ever becoming a 'pipe-able' consistency, but 8 eggs later, it turned into a glossy, smooth batter.

glossy choux pastry batter

Then on to piping and baking, I had hand cramps after one piping bags worth of pastry, the second was a nightmare! They didn't look great before baking, and I had concerns they would stay in that piped 'cartoon poo'-like shape. Luckily they didn't and puffed up just like they were supposed to.

ready for baking...

...out of the oven

Next up was the crème pâtissière, not much different to the custards I have made previously, and, in the scheme of things, quite simple. Although, by this stage both Miss Red and I had sore arms from all the mixing and beating, as thanks to an unfortunate accident in a university share house, Ms Red no longer has a fully functioning mixmaster...

stirring, stirring, stirring

Once the crème pâtissière had chilled, it was time to pipe it into the choux pastry puffs. For some reason about half of the puffs had collapsed, making it quite hard to fill them without spurting the crème pâtissière out everywhere. I think I needed a smaller nozzle tip - I did a fair bit of damage with the one I used, and most of the puffs had obvious crème pâtissière holes.

filling with crème pâtissière

Then on to the fun part - the toffee! I ended up needing to make a second batch as I ran out before the 'assembly' part. Each puff was dipped in toffee, and some in pearl sugar as well. As per the recipe's advice I had a bowl of iced water handy in case of hot toffee burns, and it was well used!

dipping in toffee

all lined up for assembly

Then on to the assembly, as you can probably tell, I didn't have a croquembouche cone, so I went free-form. Ms Red and E were watching keenly, and directing the location of each puff. Given I didn't have a cone, I think it turned out alright, but next time (if there is a next time!) I'd use a cone as I think it gives a better finish.

the assembly - E in the background

Adriano suggests you finish with some spun sugar, but Ms Red was not prepared to let me decapitate her whisk, so I attempted with a fork, not to much success.

And lastly, a word of warning - even with the iced water, toffee burns are not impossible, see exhibit A below...

exhibit A - the toffee burn

I'm glad to back guys - I'll make an effort to create something worth blogging in my dingy kitchen soon.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

I'm back!

I have been a very bad blogger lately, and I apologise. I did a bit of moving around over Christmas, and didn't get to blogging, and by the time I was back in Perth in mid January, I had lost my blogging mojo.

I have moved out of FSIL's fab house into a dingy apartment, because FSIL and Mr FSIL have had a baby! He's the cutest thing ever, and has inspired me to start sewing again - I started with a quilt, and have now started on adorable stuffed toys (aka softies) made with gorgeous fabric.

I tried to revive my cooking and blogging mojo, but the useless kitchen in my apartment did not help with the revival. Add to that my renewed interest in sewing, and the relentless heat in Perth, and cooking has just not been that exciting lately.

But, all is not lost people. I have a fantastic (even if I do say so myself) post coming up for anyone who has bothered to hang around.

More soon,