Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Daring Bakers #7 Vol-au-vent and puff pastry...

So, as every month, on the very same day :) here we go: 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.

"A Vol-au-vent (French for "windblown" to describe its lightness) is a small hollow case of puff pastry. A round opening is cut in the top and the pastry cut out for the opening is replaced as a lid after the case is filled. Vol-au-vents can accommodate various delicious fillings, such as mushrooms, prawns, fruit, or cheese, but they are almost always savory." - by Wikipedia.org



How to make it...

Ingredients:
- 354 g unbleached all-purpose flour
- 142 g cake flour
- 1 tablespoon salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
- 300 ml ice water
- 454 g very cold unsalted butter
- plus extra flour for dusting work surface

Mixing the Dough:
Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.
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 once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers.
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 refrigerate for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:
Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour with your rolling pin, press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.
Place the cold 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.
To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:
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 and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).
With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.
Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

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 refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two 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 before cutting or shaping it.



Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent:
Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the 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.)

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 the 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 square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d'oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist 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 wadding 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-shaped sides.)
Using a 3/4 inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 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.
Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides. If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.
Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 200ºC.
Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 180ºC) 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 minutes more. Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.
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"). This 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).

Anula's notes:
The choice of filling was up to us. I choose caramelised peaches in sugar/vanilla syrup, with some toasted almonds on top, served with Greek yogurt.
I didn't have a lot of free time this month, so I made only that sweet version and the rest of the pastry landed in the freezer... Besides there are only 2 of us here, so I didn't want to bake a lot at one time, just in case I will have to throw it away... and I hate wasting food!
It was tough work making the puff pastry but interesting experience - and worth all that sweating! I used some tips how to roll it etc. from a great book by Michael Roux "Pastry".


Smacznego!

17 comments:

  1. Such beautiful, deep, puffy shells! Great job!

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  2. Well done, Anula!
    It puffed really well!

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  3. looks good...and interesting filling...

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  4. Yum!! Your vols-au-vent look stunning, and I love the sound of your filling!!

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  5. Soooo pretty, and the filling sounds delicious!

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  6. Beautiful work! I love your little almonds sticking up through the filling. Cheers!

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  7. Greek yogurt is a seriously underused ingredient. I'm glad that you included it with your vols-au-vent.

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  8. Very nice vol-au-vents! With fancy edging too! :-) The peach filling sounds delicious!

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  9. Anula, as always, you rocked the challenge! Your vols-au-vents look amazing, and the filling is divine! I have coupons for greek yogurt and many leftover shells, so thanks to you, I know where I'm going with them :)

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  10. Beautiful flaky pastry!
    Your caramelised peaches with Greek yogurt sounds delicious - I love Greek yogurt!
    Great job Anula!

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  11. Your vol-au-vents look extra delicious! I love that you served them with greek yogurt! So yummy.

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  12. Your filling sounds delicious! And like you, most of my pastry landed in the freezer. I'm glad I did that because we loved this stuff, and would have eaten it all had I baked it!

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  13. Your pictures of the puff pastry with the peaches look delicious! Great job! :)

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  14. Anula, this peach almond pastry puff must taste like heaven. It looks good and is definitely scrumptious.......

    Regards
    Kris

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  15. Looks fantastic and I'm betting it tasted oh so fantastic with the peaches!!

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Thank you for taking your time and leaving a comment. It means a lot!
Pozdrawiam, Anula.