Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Daring Bakers' September Challenge - Vols-au-Vent

(Which I am pretty sure must mean, “After one bite we could die and go to heaven!” in French.)

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. (Recipe HERE)

I had never before made puff pastry, although I had made Danish pastry. Both of those doughs are from the "laminated" dough family, so-called because they are composed of many, many thin layers, each separated by a thin layer of butter. The main difference, though, is that Danish pastry uses yeast as a leaven; puff pastry has no leavening. It depends upon the expanding steam, between the layers, for its rise. And rise it DOES!

Laminated dough begins with a large block of cold butter (beurrage, in French), pounded into a square shape and then enclosed in a sheet of dough (the détrempe).

The entire packet is known as the paton and is rolled and folded repeatedly (refrigerated between rollings). For the puff pastry dough that I made for this recipe, Dan and I calculated that, at the end of the rolls-and-turns, I had 1,458 layers of dough with a thin film of butter between each one! I know you can't make out all 1,458 layers in this picture, but I think you can see how striated it is. The two more prominent breaks in the dough are where the dough was folded the last time.

Finally the dough was rolled out, one last time, and cut into shapes; put onto some parchment paper on a baking sheet; brushed with an egg wash; and baked.

When the vols au vent came out of the oven, they were puffed up, tall, and stayed that way as they cooled.

For successful completion of this challenge, we were permitted to fill our vols au vent with anything we liked: a savory filling, such as chicken salad; or a sweet filling, which was what I chose. I combined whipped cream with lemon curd, piped it into the hollow of the vols au vent, and topped each one with a big fat raspberry, a slice of kiwi, and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. Yum!

From this recipe, I turned out twelve (yes, only twelve!) completed individual desserts. Dan and I had a potluck party to go to that evening, so I took them to share with everyone. I know of at least two ladies who hit the dessert table before the main course table, so they wouldn't miss out!

I'm really happy to have been challenged to make my own puff pastry. It was so rewarding, watching the dough rise as if by magic! Lots of thanks, Steph, for all of your work in hosting this month's Daring Bakers' challenge.


LittleRed said...

They look absolutely delicious! Great job:)

Jo said...

Great job on your challenge and all your vols-au vent look so pretty and delicious.

Amy I. said...

Wow, you got such huge puffs! Your pastries look beautiful, nice work!

Lauren said...

Beautiful job! The vols-au-vent look stunning, and rose beautifully =D.