The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge is hosted by Steph of "a Whisk And A Spoon" (USA) who 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.
Although the idea of making "Puff Pastry" in my kitchen and rolling it on my oven totally freaked me out, I greeted this new baking joust with much excitement and great anticipation. I had always wanted to make my own "Pâte Feuilletée", yet never managed to make any until now. I guess that the reason why I never got to baking that delicacy has more to do with my subconscious cowardness (which was the real blocker) than with not my lack of space (a lame excuse).
As I was not going to let myself get destabilized by my chicken ways , so I made the promise to honor the saying "When there's a will, there's a w ay " and gathered all my courage as well as inner strength to face the time-consuming task that lay ahead.
To my biggest surprise, it all went very smoothely and at the end, my sanity remained. Nobody was murdered, no pastry was thrown across t he kitchen and no profanities were uttered! Once my "Vols-Au-Vent" came out of the oven looking all golden and perfect, I was really relieved. I had another reason to be proud of myself. My ego an d confidence got magnificently boosted...
Since we are only two at home, I divided the dough in half. I used one half to create sweet "Vols-Au-Vent" and froze the other half in order to make savory "Vols-Au-Vent" later on.
I wanted a fresh and fruity dessert that would not be too sugary, so I opted for a simple yet divine "Pastry Cream" filling (Dorie Greenspan's recipe) and decided to decorate my pastries with slices of Italian prune that I glazed runny jelly. I served my "Vols-au-vent" with cinnamon and red wine poaches figs. All that resulted in a tantalizingly delicate and ambrosial treat that delighted us to the highest point.
The pastry was incredibly flaky, light, crispy and had well-defined layers. It tasted of butter and was far from being bland or vinegary like most industrial "Puff Pastries" tend to be. It was perfect texture- and flavor-wise; worthy of any good bakery. Together with the lusciously creamy, vanillaed "Pastry Cream" and, the crunchy and extremely fragrant prunes, each bite brought you a step closer to heaven!!!
I really wish to thank Steph for having choosen that fantastic recipe and for having helped me surpass myself and my fears.
~ Michel Richard's Puff Pastry Dough ~
Recipe taken fron "Baking With Julia" by Dorie Greenspan.
Yields 1.2 kg (2 1/2 pounds) dough.
Food processor (will make mixing easy, but this can be done by hand as well)
Metal bench scraper (optional, but recommended)
Silicone baking mat (optional, but recommended)
Set of round cutters (optional, but recommended)
. About 4-5 hours to prepare the puff pastry dough (much of this time is inactive, while you wait for the dough to chill between turns…it can be stretched out over an even longer period of time if that better suits your schedule).
. About 1 1/2 hours to shape, chill and bake the vols-au-vent after your puff pastry dough is complete.
This recipe makes more than you will need for the quantity o f vols-au-vent stated above. While I encourage you to make the full recipe of puff pastry, as extra dough freezes well, you can halve it successfully if you’d rather not have much leftover.
2-1/2 Cups (354g) Unbleached all-purpose flour + extra for dusting the work surface
1-1/4 Cups (142g) Cake flour
1 Tbs Sea salt (you can cut this by half for a l ess salty dough or f or sweet preparations)
1-1/4 Cups (300ml) Ice water
1 Pound (454g) Very cold unsalted butter
Mixing The Dough:
1. Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it canno t hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.
2. Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at o nce, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough wi ll b e ve ry moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.).
3. Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and re frigerate for about 5 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plasti c wrap an d beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 2.54cm (1 inch) thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm (If it has softened or become oily, chill it before co ntinuing.).
Incorporating The Butter:
5. Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry.) with your rolling pin (Preferably a French rolling pin without handles.), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 25cm (10 inches) square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floure d to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the cen ter of the square, r oll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or fl aps.
6. Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold th e e ars ov er the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't j ust pull the ends.). You should now have a package that is 20cm (8 inches) square.
Making The Turns:
7. Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface an d the top of the d ough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a recta ngle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 61cm/24 inches (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 61cm/24 inches, everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the len gth and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along w ell, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).
8. With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the d ough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in t hirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.
9. Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, lik e the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 61cm (24 inches) and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.
Notes On Chilling the Dough:
If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now.
If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and re frigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of tu rns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the d ough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.
Notes On The Turns:
The total number of turns needed is six.
If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day.
Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour bef or e cutting or shaping it.
. While this is not included in the original recipe we are using (and I did not do this in my own trials), many puff pastry recipes use a teaspoon or two of white vinegar or lemon juice, added to the ice water, in the détrempe dough. This a dds acidity, which relaxes the gluten in the dough by breaking down the proteins, making rolling easier. You ar e welcome to try this if you wish.
. Keep things cool by using the refrigerator as your friend! If you see any b utte r starting to leak through the dough during the turning process, rub a little flour on the exposed dough and chill straight away. Although you should certainly chill the doug h for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns, if you feel the dough getting to soft or hard to work with at any point, pop in the fridge for a rest.
. Not to sound contradictory, but if you chill your paton longer than the recommended time between turns, the butter can firm up too much. If this seems to be the case, I advise letting it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to give it a chance to soften before proceeding to roll. You don't want the hard butter to separate into chuncks or break t hrough the dough...you want it to roll evenly, in a continuous layer.
. Roll the puff pastry gently but firmly, and don’t roll your pin o ver the edges, which will prevent them from rising properly. Don't roll your puff thinner t han about about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick, or you will not get the rise you are looking for. Try to keep “neat” edges and corners during the rolling and turning process, so the lay ers are properly aligned. Give the edges of the paton a scooch with your rolling pin or a bench scraper to keep straight edges and 90-degree corners.
. Brush off excess flour before turning dough and after rolling. . Make clean cuts. Don’t drag your knife through the puff or twist your cutters too much, which can inhibit rise.
. When egg washing puff pastry, try not to let extra e gg wash d rip down the cut edges, which can also inhibit rise.
. Extra puff pastry dough freezes beautifully. It’s best to ro ll it into a sheet about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick (similar to store-bought puff) and freeze firm on a lined b aking sheet. Then you can easily wrap the sheet in plastic, then foil (and if you have a se alable plastic bag big enough, place the wrapped dough inside) and return to th e freezer for up to a few months.
. Defrost in the refrigerator when ready to use.
. You can also freeze well-wrapped, unbaked cut and shaped pu ff pastry (i.e., unbaked vols-au-vent shells). Bake from frozen, without thawing first.
. Homemade puff pastry is precious stuff, so save any clean scraps. Stack or overlap them, rather than balling them up, to help keep the integrity of the layers. T hen give them a singe “turn” and gently re-roll. Scrap puff can be used for applications where a super-high rise is not necessary (such as palmiers, cheese straws, napoleons , or even the bottom bases for your vols-au-vent).
Yields 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe above will make about 8x-10 x 3.8cm (1.5 inches/diameter) vols-au-vent or 4x 10.2cm (4 inches/diameter) vols-au-vent.
In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
Well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe above)
Egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
Your filling of choice
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
2. Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the d ou gh, and leave th e rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to t he baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting (This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut squa re vols-au-ven ts usin g a sharp chef’s knife.).
4. For smaller, hors d'oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 3.8cm (1.5 inch) round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 10cm (4 inches) cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to t wist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wa dding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shape d sides.)
5. Using a 1.9cm (3/4-inch) cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 5-6.4cm (2 to 2.5-inch) round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.
6. Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them l ightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rin gs directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to a dhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to d rip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.
7. Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 200º C/400 º F (You cou ld also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)
8. Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (Preferred b ecause of its weight.) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until t hey have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 180º C (350º F), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minut es more (If you are baking the cen ter “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.).
9. Remove to a ra ck to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.
10. Fill and serve.
For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to "glue"). Thi s will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight. Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day. Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first). There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the bo ok. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry doug: http://video.pbs.org/video/1174110297/search/Pastry.
Etant donné la longueur du texte original, je n'ai malheureusement pas pu faire une traduction française de ce billet et je m'en excuse auprès de tous mes amis lecteur s et blogueurs francophones!
C'est pourquoi je vous suggère de vous rendre sur les blogs mentionnés ci-dessous. Vous y trouverez cette recette en version française.
Chez Jasmine de "Jasmine Cuisine" (Canada)
Chez Isa de "Les Gourmandises d'Isa" (Canada)