My fillings included (recipes are at the bottom of this post):
The Crab Salad was incredible. It had a wonderfully fresh flavor. The sweet version was equally delicious...especially with the addition of Frangelico. That just sent it over the top!
Because of all these little things, puff pastry is something that I've always just purchased at the grocery store...I know, I know...it's the easy way out, right? However, I have to admit...homemade puff pastry is SO incredibly delicious! Sure, it takes time and practice, but it's worth it. It's something that every home cook should try at least once!
I was shocked at the amount of butter in this recipe - a full pound! It was fun pounding the sticks of butter into one big block, though. Who needs a punching bag when you have a ton of butter to smash into oblivion?? The rolling & turning of the dough wasn't particularly hard...just be sure to keep the dough cold, putting it back into the fridge in between turns, if needed.
I wonder how many of my other fellow Daring Bakers sat in front of their ovens, watching anxiously to see if their pastries would rise. Yes folks, that was me....haha! I slid the baking sheet into the pre-heated oven and got ready for the show. I sat right in front of my oven, on the floor, with the oven light turned on. What followed was one heck of a show! After a few minutes, the puff pastry started to, well, puff! And puff up, they did! After they turned a golden brown, I pulled them out and waited while they cooled.
In the end, the results were nothing short of fantastic...Considering the amount of butter in this dish, I'm glad that this recipe isn't extremely easy, otherwise I would be making it all the time!
THANKS Steph for a fabulous challenge this month!!!***
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
-your filling of choice.
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.)
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.
*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).
From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
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.
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
-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 adds acidity, which relaxes the gluten in the dough by breaking down the proteins, making rolling easier. You are welcome to try this if you wish.
-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.
-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 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).
Crab Salad w/Lime, Tomato and Avocado
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon very finely chopped jalapeño
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, plus cilantro leaves for garnish
1/2 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
1 1/2 Hass avocados, diced ( 1/2 inch)
1/3 cup minced red onion
1 large heirloom tomato, cut into four 1/2-inch-thick slices
Tortilla chips, for serving
In a small bowl, combine the lime juice with the olive oil, vegetable oil, jalapeño, chopped cilantro, honey and garlic. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, toss the crab with 3 tablespoons of the dressing and season with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, gently toss the avocado with the red onion and 2 tablespoons of the dressing; season with salt and pepper.
Place a tomato slice on each plate and season with salt. Top with the avocado and the crab and garnish with the cilantro. Drizzle the remaining dressing on top and serve with tortilla chips.
Chocolate Whipped Cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Frangelico
Put chopped chocolate into a medium bowl. Pour cream into a small heavy saucepan; stir in sugar. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Pour boiling cream over chocolate; stir until smooth and chocolate is melted. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours, until thoroughly chilled.
Transfer to a large bowl. Beat to spreading or filling consistency, or until it reaches soft peaks.
Add Frangelico and stir/beat until mixed thoroughly.Refrigerate for about 1 hour before using.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Keep in refrigerator for up to 2 days.