Tag Archive for 'french croquembouche cake'

real (parisian) wedding wednesday: an art deco gatsby wedding

One of the best moments in designing and planning weddings is when you meet with new clients, and you suddenly realize that you are completely in tune with them. They’re describing their vision of their wedding to you, and it feels like someone has reached into your head and stolen your thoughts!  I’ve adored the Art Deco and Art Nouveau movements since I was a teeny-tiny girl, and I’ve been super excited that the ever-present “Vintage Wedding” craze has taken a turn towards the 1920’s lately.  I’d been playing around with some design ideas and creating inspiration boards around a Great Gatsby/Paris in the 20’s wedding, when Jessica and Scott contacted me about their celebration. They, also, are in love with the Art Deco era, and wanted an event that was both “period” and elegant, but also something a bit over-the-top - since their family and friends coming over from New York like to have a good time (comme on dit…).  What we ended up creating was a day that truly celebrated Paris in the roaring 20’s.

With help from make-up artist Sanni Sorma, and hair stylist Pia Paysant (both Swedish, Paris-based beauty babes)  Jessica and Scott got gorgeously “In the Mood for Love” in their Marais vacation rental apartment.  Then, with photographer David Bacher leading the way- they took to the streets for a whirlwind pre-ceremony photo session:

art-deco-paris-weddingparis-art-deco-weddingparis-in-the-20s-wedding-themeMeanwhile, parked in front of the Musée d’Orsay,  Team parisian events was goofing off working like dogs to transform a small boat on the Seine into an elegant,  Art Deco speakeasy- complete with stacks of fedoras, mounds of feather boas, miles of faux pearls and armfuls of phalaenopsis orchids. Oh, and there was whiskey.

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Guests began to arrive just as the sun was setting, and Jessica and Scott’s intimate evening ceremony began:

paris-wedding-on-the-seineparis-wedding-ceremony-sunset-on-the-seine

After the “I do’s” were complete-  and the food, champagne and music was freely flowing-  we set to work passing out props to the pampered guests, who were pleasantly surprised (to say the least), by the traditional flaming French croquembouche wedding cake that was brought out to the happy couple:paris-art-deco-speakeasy-wedding

But the biggest surprise of all were the professional dancers planted among the guests, who “spontaneously” burst into a wild Lindy Hop during the couple’s first dance. They were the icing on the cake for this speakeasy wedding- and kept the group entertained for the rest of the evening: paris-art-deco-speakeasy-great-gatsby-weddingWe helped Jessica and Scott to create a magical evening for their guests- a trip back in time to when Paris was the center of the artistic universe. Les annees folles- the crazy years! A time that’s been immortalized in books, paintings, music and films.  After their amazing 1920’s wedding, Jessica, Scott, and their family and friends now have another reason to call Paris A Moveable Feast.

photos © David Bacher

diy french croquembouche wedding cake, part trois

paris-croquembouche

You’ve baked a bushel of light and airy pâte a choux and filled them with delicious homemade pastry cream. Now it’s time to assemble your croquembouche. In France, you can buy metal or Styrofoam cones to build your croquembouche around. I’m sure you can also order these online in other countries. You can also create your own cone out of cardboard and wax paper. If you’re building a smaller tower, a cone may not even be necessary at all. Here is a short video that shows how to make a chocolate croquembouche. If you don’t want to use chocolate, you can substitute it with a simple caramel sauce:


Now, one of the highlights of a French wedding is the presentation of Le Gâteau. Unlike in traditional American weddings where the cake is on display throughout the entire reception dinner, a French piéce montée is brought out at dessert time, typically with a lot of hoopla. Like I mentioned in my previous post, a typical serving of croquemebouche is around 3 - 4 choux per guest. So, at a wedding of 100 guests, you can imagine the height of some of these cakes. Sometimes, if they have a large number of guests, couples will choose to have several smaller cakes instead of one tall one. When it’s time to present the croquembouche, the lights will go down, and the emcee will make an announcement over the mic that the cake is coming. Amid quite a bit of fanfare, the baker and his assistants will then bring the cake out to the happy couple.  As if a 3 foot tower of creme-filled puff-pastries dripping in caramelized spun-sugar wasn’t enough- the cake at a French wedding is also presented with fireworks shooting out from all over it. No joke! After the flames die down, the couple then break off a few of the choux and eat them, then the cake is whisked away to be cut, plated and served to their guests.

In France, croquembouche aren’t just reserved for weddings, but are more of a “special occasion” cake.  And they don’t just come in the pyramid-shaped towers, either. You can have choux piled together to form baby carriages (for showers or baptisms), musical instruments (for birthdays or bar mitzvahs) or even little church houses or carriages for weddings. Sure it’s kitsch-y, but really-  once you’re crunching down on one of those yummy cream puffs- do you honestly think you’ll care what form the cake had previously been in?  I would suggest, though, that if you’re taking on the challenge of baking your own French wedding cake, keep it simple and stick to the traditional tower.


making a french croquembouche wedding cake, pt. deux

So, you’ve decided to try your hand at making a French wedding cake. Well, I say “chapeau bas” to you! Earlier this week I talked about how serving a croquembouche is a great way to incorporate a touch of La Belle France into your French- or Parisian-themed wedding reception. The last video showed you an easy way to make pâte a choux- the puff pastry balls that make up half of your cake. This entry will tell you how to fill them.

The choux of a croquembouche are filled with a light, delicious cream- either plain vanilla, or any number of flavors like chocolate, Grand Marnier, Fleur d’Oranger, Rum, or my favorite- rose. When you order a croquembouche from a French patisserie like Ladurée, you typically are given a choice of 2 - 3 flavors of choux, depending on the size of your cake. Since each guest will receive 3 or 4 choux in a serving, you really don’t want to choose any more than that, otherwise the mixture of flavors could be a bit overwhelming. Here is a recipe for making a basic pastry cream, which can then be piped into the choux once they’ve cooled off:


Up next? How to put it all together to wow your guests with a fabulous French croquembouche wedding cake.