Anyone listening to Simon Mayo’s “Confessions” on Radio 2 yesterday would have heard the tale of an amateur wedding cake maker attempting to make a croquembouche, using their dog’s collar and PVA glue to hold it up.
So what is a croquembouche and how are they made? We spoke to croquembouche specialists “Fancy That!” to answer 5 common questions….
How do I pronounce “croquembouche”?
It is pronounced “crock-om-booshe” and literally translates to “crack in the mouth”. Although it is a French word, in France they are known as “Piece Montee”.
Do the caramel strands hold it all together?
The cobweb of caramel strands or “spun sugar” around the outside is for decoration only. Each piece of filled choux is dipped in caramel and stuck to the piece next to it, and when the pyramid is complete it is covered in spun sugar.
Can they be filled with fresh cream?
Definitely not, despite Nigella suggesting they can on TV! When the filled pieces of choux are dipped in caramel the whipped cream turns liquid and seeps out. This then dissolves the caramel that is holding it all together…. They should be made with creme patissiere which can be flavoured, but the plain vanilla flavour remains a firm favourite.
Can they be made gluten free?
High gluten flour is a key ingredient for the hollow choux pastry balls. Eggs, milk and of course sugar for the caramel are also essential ingredients so this isn’t a cake for anyone with food intolerances.
How long will they last?
Once cut, not very long! Most people love profiteroles which is why they are so popular as wedding cakes. They must be made fresh on the day, and we deliver to the venue just before the guests arrive so that the caramel still looks perfect.