DB Challenge: Vols-au-Vent

Are you ready to drool?

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.

At first I considered passing on this month's challenge, mostly because I knew temperatures would be crucial and we are still hitting 100 degrees here. But as I read people's completed challenges I realized that it wasn't that difficult a challenge and that if I used the refrigerator as my friend, I could get it done. I did wait until the last minute, though. I was hoping for a cooldown. Today is 99 degrees and the last weekend of the month. Oh well. Time to get down to business.

My first obstacle was mixing the dough because the directions required a food processor, which I do not own. I did my best to mix it by hand and I guess I succeeded well enough. You then rolled the dough into a rectangle and put cold butter on the center, folded the sides over it, and then rolled. The idea is to roll the butter into layers with the dough to create the flaky layers that puff pastry has. You continued to roll and fold until you had done so for six 'turns'.

The final rolling is to about a 1/4 inch thick. Then you cut your vols-au-vents. These are the small puff pastry containers you often get appetizers or desserts served in. Most professionals would have the cutter sets available so that they would do circles with hole cut circles on top. I didn't have the cutters, so I did my best with squares. You stick the tops onto the bases with an egg wash.

Here they are fresh from the oven. I did succeed with getting the required layers, but not as high as I would have liked. You can see I kept the baby squares that I had cut out of the tops.

The nice thing about vols-au-vent is that you can use them for savory or sweet fillings. Here I filled one with Thai beef curry.

Here is my masterpiece. I made a rosewater whipped cream, sliced some strawberries, and drizzled everything with a reduced balsamic honey sauce. Deee-licious! And how could I not like it when my favorite pastry is a Napoleon? All the same ingredients, just different assembly.

Will I make puff pastry again? Perhaps. It wasn't all that hard. The thing is, why gamble on how high your layers may rise when you can take the easy way out by buying puff pastry from the freezer section of the grocery store? We'll see.