Sep 27, 2009

Challenging myself: Daring Bakers' Challenge Vols-au-Vent

Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon was the gracious hostess of this month's Daring Bakers' challenge. She chose vols-au-vents made with homemade puff pastry.

This was my first time doing a DB Challenge, not the first time making puff pastry.
I have a training as a housekeeper, in which you had to take cooking lessons. And one of them was making puff pastry. 

Puff Pastry is called Blätterteig in German, which means leaved dough. Vols-au-vents are Königinnenpastete, which means pie of the Queens. 

It’s a good recipe, I think at least ones in your life you should make homemade puff pastry. 

The only problem is I don’t like puff pastry. My Family doesn’t likes puff pastry.

A shame.

But you should try yourself.

The first two weeks of the month it was still to warm, so the first two batches did not deliver.
Since I have a really small refrigerator it was almost impossible to cool the dough enough without having big 4-6 hours pauses between the turns.


The third time was the charm. This time it was already cool enough outside to work with a open window what made it finally possible for me to finish the challenge. 

I made some Vols-au-Vent and nobody wanted to eat them. Don’t get me wrong they taste good the look pretty it’s just that they are to buttery for us.
So what to do? 

Let them be snacks and even we eat them.

 I filled some with Salad,

some with goats cheese and fresh figs to top them with Honey. 

There was a cheesecake mousse with redcurrants from our garden.

Fresh Ham with Parmesan.

Not to forget a lovely little canapé filled with Pate and chives.  

It was all really tasty, so please try this lovely vols-au-vent.

Now go and make some pastry and don’t forget to have fun. See you next time.

the challenge: You must make Michel Richard’s recipe for puff pastry (as seen below), and form at least part of it into vols-au-vent (instructions below).

Optional parts of the challenge: You may make your vols-au-vent large or small, and may fill them with whatever you choose (savory or sweet).

-food processor (will make mixing dough easy, but I imagine this can be done by hand as well)
-rolling pin
-pastry brush
-metal bench scraper (optional, but recommended)
-plastic wrap
-baking sheet
-parchment paper
-silicone baking mat (optional, but recommended)
-set of round cutters (optional, but recommended)
-sharp chef’s knife
-cooling rack

Prep Times:
-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 1.5 hours to shape, chill and bake the vols-au-vent after your puff pastry dough is complete
Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent

Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent

In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

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 ¾-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 (which may inhibit rise). 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 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)

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 350ºF (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. (If you are baking the center “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.)

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).

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

Steph’s note: This recipe makes more than you will need for the quantity of 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.

There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry dough (although they go on to use it in other applications). They do seem to give slightly different ingredient measurements verbally than the ones in the book…I listed the recipe as it appears printed in the book.

2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 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. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.) 

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 (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 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. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square. 

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.


Simones Kitchen said...

Well done on your first daring bakers challenge! I think they look gorgeous but what a shame that none of you like puff pastry. Well, at least you enjoyed these ones. Great choice for fillings too!

pebble soup said...

Well done you, dedication is shining through.

s said...

its too bad you dont like puff pastry..would love to have yours!!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Very well done! I love your choice of fillings, yummy!



KPB said...

Thanks for dropping by! Yours look fantastic! You got fabulous POOF!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

They do look delicious! What a shame that you don't like vol au vents. I wish I didn't like them but I ate so many of them :P

shaz said...

Very well done Wic! Third time lucky :) Love the picture of the redcurrant one - very pretty.
And welcome to the daring bakers!

Lauren said...

Awesome job with your first challenge! The vols-au-vent look amazing =D.

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Wow. I can't believe that you tried it 2 times and DON"Y EVEN LIKE IT??!! That is determination. They turned out beautiful though!

Karen | Citrus and Candy said...

Next time, I'd be happy to eat all your puff pastry if you like :) Can't get enough of it and that's prob not a good thing! Congrats on your first challenge!

Delicious Dishings said...

These look too good not to eat! I especially think the ones with the currants are beautiful. I bet they were so tasty!

Sara said...

Oooh, these look really yummy (though I agree -- so much butter!!) Great job with persevering through a couple of batches of melted puff pastry! ;)

Cheri said...

Wic! They turned out absolutely perfect and beautiful! I am drooling over all your variations.. they all sound so divine!

Zita said...

Congrats on your 1st challenge, great choice of fillings :)

Anonymous said...

Way to go on your first challenge. Sorry your not a big fan but looks like you made them so tasty the whole family loved them. Excellent!

Amy I. said...

Welcome to the Daring Bakers! Great job, I love the presentation and the flavors you chose. Nice work!

Sylwia said...

Wic, your puff pastry looks amazing!!! What a fabulous looking pastry!!! I love the pictures!

cheap ethnic eatz said...

Congrats on your first challenge! Indeed a shame your family does not enjoy it, I'll help you eating your leftovers!

PAM said...

Nice job on your first Daring Baker challenge. I wish I didn't like butter, I'd probably be 10 pounds thinner.

Jenni said...

Great job! They look fantastic!

Heather said...

These are so pretty! I would like one of each, please.

Asha @ FSK said...

Hey! Congrats fellow-first timer! Love your fillings. Pate and chives.. ooh!!!!

Peggy Bourjaily said...

Oh! Hopefully the next challenge is something you adore. Your vols-au-vent look gorgeous!

maybelle's mom said...

great job. the salad one is my favorite.

Conor @ HoldtheBeef said...

Congrats on your first challenge, I'll happily eat all the goats cheese and figs ones!

A Table For Two said...

No one likes puff pastries in the family?! that's just crazy! :) I'll happy be the honor and scoff all of them down for u! :)

Eat4Fun said...

Congratulations on completing your first DB challenge! The puff pastry and all your fillings look delicious. The fig and goat cheese look especially delicious to me.

A said...

Well done!

If no one in your household likes your puff-pastry I'm more than willing to take it from you :P

Deeba PAB said...

Gorgeous first challenge Wic...very very good. Love your choice of fillings, especially the cheesecake mousse...WOW! Love the fig & goat cheese one too...oh I love them all!

sweetakery said...

Congrats on your first Daring Baker challenge. Your puff pastry looks gorgeous & delicious!!

Lis said...

Wow.. for a family who doesn't like puff pastry, you made the mother load! And every single one of them sounds DELICIOUS! I'm especially taken with the pate & chives - YUM!

Welcome to the group! It's a huge pleasure to have you with us! :) xoxo

Lisa said...

Congrats on a first challenge well done - TWICE!! Not only was it worth it, even though you don't like it, but they turned out gorgeous!! Kudos!!

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction said...

Wow - your puff pastry looks beautiful! I especially love the idea of the cheesecake mousse! Congrats on your first challenge!

Unknown said...

You did a great job with it, even if you aren't a fan. To be honest puff pastry is way too rich for eating in my household too, but I had to try it at least once.

Cook the Books said...

Your puffs turned out beautifully! Congrats on your first challenge.

Jenny Tan said...

Welcome to DB! :) I am sorry that you and your family do not like the buttery taste. My daughter in particular, loves it. As for the rest of us, it was ENOUGH after gobbling down a couple! :) Nonetheless, your vols-au-vents looks really good! Well done! :)

Jo said...

These look really good! I might have to try the goat cheese/fig combination some time, it sounds delicious.

Denise @ There's a Newf in My Soup! said...

Welcome to DB and congratulations on your first challenge! Persistence paid off and you ended up with beautiful vols-au-vent. I had to share with neighbors because I would eat all of them if left around our house! Red currants from the garden - lovely.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

i used figs too but paired it with mascarpone - i adore the idea with the goat cheese though. grand looking vol-au-vents. well done!

Anonymous said...

Great flavor cominations for your fillings - too bad you don't like puff pastry...I can't even imagine!

Andreas said...

Willkommen bei den Daring Bakers.
Die Käsekuchen-Füllung mit Johannisbeeren sieht echt lecker aus. :)

Hannah said...

Wonderful job, your pastries all look so perfectly executed!

Chou said...

You don't like puff pastry, and you made it three times!? Wow! Daring indeed! The red currants are so beautiful, what a nice touch.

Anonymous said...

Surely you're the only people in the world who don't LOVE PUFF PASTRY!! I'm shocked! :D

Nevertheless, yours looks lovely and yummy!

Anonymous said...

Those look great! Mine were sweet but I'm thinking of using some extra dough for savory ones. All these pictures are giving me a craving!

Unknown said...

all those variations look tasty

alana said...

Welcome! So tragic that no one wanted these lovelies, but I'm glad that you finally brought yourselves to gobble them up. Cheesecake mousse with red currants! Oh, fabulous.

Lori said...

Welcome to Daring Bakers. Lots of yummy variations. Nice job.

Ms. Meanie said...

Great job on your first DB challenge! Your fillings sound delicious! Very creative choices.

Deseree said...

Congrats on your first challenge! You were super ambitious to do all of those fillings and it paid off, they look fantastic. Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

The Moon Muse said...

Very well done and so many yummy fillings!

nikki said...

Fabulous job on your first challenge! I, too, will take your unwanted puff pastry, especially filled with figs and goat cheese!

Faery said...

Congrats in your first challenge, your vols-au-vent look so delicious, I love puff pastry and yours is perfect, love all the fillings specialy figs and goat cheese.