the september 2009 daring bakers' challenge was hosted by steph of a whisk and a spoon. she chose the french treat, vols-au-vent based on the puff pastry recipe by michel richard from the cookbook baking with julia by dorie greenspan.
i have been blathering on about wanting to make pate feuilletee (le puff pastry) for a fair old while now, so this challenge, and a new kitchen table (!) gave me the ultimate opportunity. I was worried a little about the daunting task of making this pastry, mainly because everyone always says its either too hard or takes too long to bother with. But I have to say I was exceedingly pleased, time wise the first 4 turns went smoothly and quickly, then I left it overnight in the fridge and completed the last two turns and baked it the following day.
being all about the sweet things in life my vols-au-vent are filled with layered raspberry compote and vanilla custard cream, topped with fresh raspberries. I used the rest of the pastry to make a raspberry and custard cream mille-feuille, some vanilla sugar plamiers and, just because, some cinnamon pin-wheels. yum!
michel richrards puff pastry dough
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tbsp salt - which I reduced as I was making only sweet preparations
1 1/4 cups ice water
454g very cold unsalted butter
mixing the dough
put all the flour, cake flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to mix. add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. the dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold tohether when squeezed.
remove and form into a ball, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. wrap in a damp towel and chill for about 5 minutes.
meanwhile place the butter between two sheets of greaseproof paper and beat to with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. take care that the butter remains cool, chill before continuing if necessary.
incorporating the butter
unwrap the dough and place on a floured surface and roll to a 10" square. starting from the centre of the dough, roll out over each corner to create a thick centre pad with 'ears' or 'flaps'.
place the butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. you should now have a package that is 8" square.
making the turns
keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured, roll the dough into a 24" long rectangle. brush of any excess flour and fold the dough up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds...this is one turn.
rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left. repeat the rolling and folding process, this is the second turn.
at this point either make the next two turns, or chill the dough, then complete them. the total turns needed is six, the last two can be made the next day if needed. you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.
making the vols-au-vent
roll the pastry out to 3-6mm thick, chill again for 10 minutes. cut out rounds with a 2" cutter, making clean, sharp cuts. half the rounds form the bases and the other half can have a smaller hole cut out of the middle, these rings are then stuck to the bases using egg wash or milk.
preheat the oven to 200C, chill the vols-au-vent while this heats up, then bake for 15-20 mins.
remove to cool then fill and serve.
roll out a thin rectangle of pastry, press onto vanilla sugar and scatter some sugar over the top too. fold the left side to the middle, and then repeat with the right. complete this once more, then fold in half to make a 'log'. slice this into 1/4" pieces and place on a lined baking sheet. bake at 200C for 10mins, then flip over and bake for another 10min, remove and cool.
making the mille-feuille
roll out a rectangle of putt pastry, place on a lined baking sheet and cover with another piece of baking paper, then top with another baking tray. bake for 20mins at 200C, then flip over and bake for another 10mins. remove and cool, then slice and layer up with vanilla custard cream and fresh raspberries. dust with icing sugar and serve.