Croquembouche is a celebration cake originated from France, and they usually come in really handy in weddings and occasional birthdays, like my friend Quyen’s. Let me get this straight, this fancy little thing is harder than it looks. Sure, you might think it’s just baking a whole lot of choux buns, fill them up with pastry cream and sticking them together with caramel. But nobody tells you about the planning and assembling it to perfection, preferably with no gaps in between each choux buns and no messy strings of caramel dripping everywhere.
I have done the individual components countless times before, but this was my first time assembling a Croquembouche and I still get the jitters from it despite being familiar making everything separately. As you can see, I have quite a lot of gaps in between the Croquembouche. Mainly because my choux buns was not of a consistent size so I had to play the puzzle game of trying to fit different size buns together so as to close as many gaps as possible.
Besides the gaps, I had to deal with heat and humidity yet again. The party was in the evening, and I had this done by 2pm. Everything was holding together….until an hour later. Everything was falling apart. The caramel started to melt and the buns are slowly dropping off from the cone. I. Was. Freaking. Out. So I had to stick them back with a new batch of caramel 40mins into the party. Thank god it was holding together during the party and still look reasonably great.
So lesson learned about caramels. I forgot to take into account of the weather. Because it was relatively warm that day with quite a high humidity level, the sugar starts to “sweat”, slowly melting and losing its holding power. Also, I didn’t had any glucose in hand so I did a basic direct caramel instead. With glucose, it can strengthen the caramel and prevents it from crystallizing.
All in all, I had a fun time making it and it reminded me loads of things about the basics of pastry. And I’m glad the birthday girl had a great time enjoying it too!
Happy birthday Quyen! You’re awesome!