Vols-au-vent for the Daring bakers’ challenge- September’09

by Sunita on September 29, 2009

The September 2009 Daring Bakers’ Challenge has been chosen 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.

Puff pastry is in the ‘laminated dough” family, along with Danish dough and croissant dough. A laminated dough consists of a large block of butter (called the “beurrage”) that is enclosed in dough (called the “détrempe”). This dough/butter packet is called a “paton,” and is rolled and folded repeatedly (a process known as “turning”) to create the crisp, flaky, parallel layers you see when baked. Unlike Danish or croissant however, puff pastry dough contains no yeast in the détrempe, and relies solely aeration to achieve its high rise. The turning process creates hundreds of layers of butter and dough, with air trapped between each one. In the hot oven, water in the dough and the melting butter creates steam, which expands in the trapped air pockets, forcing the pastry to rise.

Once the puff pastry dough is made and chilled, it is rolled to form vols-au-vent, which are little puff pastry cases designed to hold a filling.They can be made large enough for a full meal, or made small for little one-bite canapés.Vols-au-vent are typically served hot and filled with a creamy savory filling (often poultry or seafood-based), but cold fillings, such as chicken or tuna salad, work, too. Whipped cream or pastry cream with fresh or stewed fruit often goes into sweet versions.

The puff pastry from the given recipe was the mandatory part of the challenge and we were given free reign as to the nature of the fillings.

I was quite excited when I checked out the challenge. I had worked with laminated dough before in an earlier daring akers’ challenge. I haven’t made it many times, but whenever I did, I have found it to be very therapeutic…the kneading, the turns, the rolling. But life came in the way,and I had to keep pushing the challenge towards the end of the month, and by that time, both me and Dinesh and myself came down with the flu. The aches and the runny noses have got better to a geat extent now. I had decided to give the challenge a miss, but in the true spirit of the daring baker, as soon as I was able to lift up my head a little ( read that as yesterday) i got stuck into the business of making the puff pastry. I got everything done.I haven’t been as adventurous with the fillings as I would have liked, but the results were quite good.

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. http://video.pbs.org/video/1174110297/search/Pastry

Ingredients:
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.

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).

Tips-

  • 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 adds acidity, which relaxes the gluten in the dough by breaking down the proteins, making rolling easier.
  • Keep things cool by using the refrigerator as your friend! If you see any butter 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 dough 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.
  • On the contrary, 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, let 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 through 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 over the edges, which will prevent them from rising properly. Don’t roll your puff thinner than 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 layers 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 egg wash drip down the cut edges, which can also inhibit rise.Extra puff pastry dough freezes beautifully. It’s best to roll it into a sheet about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick (similar to store-bought puff) and freeze firm on a lined baking sheet. Then you can easily wrap the sheet in plastic, then foil (and if you have a sealable plastic bag big enough, place the wrapped dough inside) and return to the 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 puff 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. Then 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).

What I did-

I made the puff pastry according to the given recipe. I used chickpeas for the savoury version.

What’s needed-

4C of soaked chickpeas, boiled with 1/3 tsp pf turmeric powder and strained
4 ripe, medium sized tomatoes, halved
1 head of garlic
1/2 C of fresh spinach leaves, torn roughly
a few basil leaves, torn roughly
1 tsp crushed red chillies
1C of single cream
2tblsp+ 1tsp+2tblsp of olive oil
salt to taste

How to-

  1. Pre heat the oven at 250 deg C and line a baking ray with foil. Arrange the tomatoes on the tray with the cut side up and drizzle 2tblsp of olive oil over them.
  2. halve the head of garlic horizontally and place on a piece of foil. Drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil over them and wrap the foil around to form a pouch. Place the pouch on the tray along with the tomatoes. Place the tray in the centre of the pre heated oven and bake for about 1/2 and hour or till the juices start to flow and the garlic begins to leave their aroma.
  3. Pulse the tomatoes roughly. Take out the softened cloves of garlic.
  4. Heat 2 tblsp of olive oil in a pan and add the chickpeas along with the garlic and tomatoes, chillies and salt. Stir constantly till most of the moisture evaporates. Add the spinach and basil and cook for a few minutes more.
  5. Add the cream and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Let the mixture thicken and remove from heat.

For the sweet version, I used the easy peasy recipe for a  cheesy chocolate mousse I made earlier. After filling the cases, I dusted them with some icing sugar and placed a couple of almond flakes.

We loved both the versions and i can’t wait to try them out again.

Polariod Delicious Icon Polariod Digg Icon Polariod Email Icon Polariod Facebook Icon Polariod Reddit Icon Polariod StumbleUpon Icon Polariod Twitter Icon

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rosa September 29, 2009 at 11:06 am

Very well done! Your Vols-au-vent look beautiful and I love your choice of fillings!

Cheers,

Rosa

Reply

2 Meeta September 29, 2009 at 12:06 pm

oh sunita just brilliant. great looking filling for these! well done!

Reply

3 shaz September 29, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Wow! Well done for completing the challenge just after recovering from the flu. Love the chickpea version :)

Reply

4 Aparna September 29, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Both versions look gorgeous, Sunita. Chickpeas in vol-au-vents, that’s something I’m sure was very nice.

Reply

5 Nirmala September 29, 2009 at 2:45 pm

wow what a raise! the flaky layers are so delicate and the fillings are rather simple but great! I love the idea chickpeas here Sunita! Which one did rangoni and agastya love?

Reply

6 Ramya Kiran September 29, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Loved the savory version. Mouth watering!!

Reply

7 kriatv September 29, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Beautiful photos and loved the way you filled it with chickpeas..they are so versatile..will definetely try some other time..

Reply

8 Latha September 29, 2009 at 8:23 pm

splendid Sunitha. the cases are perfectly done.

Reply

9 jo September 30, 2009 at 12:14 am

Hi Sunita, glad to hear that you’re feeling better and was even up to doing the challenge. Otherwise we would have missed seeing these beautiful creations. Gorgeous and as always great photos.

Reply

10 Cynthia September 30, 2009 at 3:39 am

You Daring ladies are awesome! Send me some of that chickpeas.

Reply

11 Jill September 30, 2009 at 3:58 am

Beautiful, beautiful photos! They looked so delicious!! :)

Reply

12 Sabiilaa September 30, 2009 at 8:51 am

Perfect layers, great puffy pastry and beautiful presentation and photos! love the fillings! Very well done! =)

Reply

13 CurryLeaf September 30, 2009 at 11:53 am

AWESOME -Love the chickpeas versions.GREAT as ALWAYS

Reply

14 sheba September 30, 2009 at 2:34 pm

such lovely fillings..very creative

Reply

15 Happy Cook September 30, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Beautiful and i just love that chickpea filling.

Reply

16 mandira September 30, 2009 at 4:37 pm

lovely fillings sunita. Shubho Bijoya to you and your family.

Reply

17 Shwetha September 30, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Sunita,
These puff pastry trophies look gorgeous and the pictures look like they’re right out of a cookbook! Beautiful :)

Reply

Leave a Comment

Thank you for dropping by and leaving your constructive feedback. I appreciate and value each and every one of them and will try to answer your queries to the best of my ability.

However, at times, the virtual life may take a backseat, and I may be unable to reply to your comments as quickly as I would like to. On such occasions, please bear with me, and I will try to respond as soon as possible.

Thanks for visiting SUNITA'S WORLD. I hope you enjoy your stay here.

Happy surfing!!

Previous post:

Next post: