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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge: Vols au Vents

I was not kicked out of Daring Bakers, for which I am grateful. I think it is because I explained what was going on in our lives. Since we have an oven again, I can participate once more. There are several challenges that I missed this past year which I hope to catch up on for my own edification, but I have no idea on what time frame this will be accomplished and make no promises.

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.

This is a book I own and I love it. It is still in a box in the garage. The bagel recipe I use comes mostly from this book as well as the Hungarian rhubarb shortbread and about a million other things I've loved. So far, nothing I've tried out of this book has been bad; I highly recommend it.

So, I include this photo in order to show that you, too, can make puff pastry. I am now working in a small, cramped, not completely unpacked, partially remodeled kitchen. I only this past month have had an oven to work with at all. If I could make this on a warm day, with six children running around, so can you.

On top of all of the above, I also couldn't find either my cookie cutters or my parchment paper, so searched the boxes in the garage with Rich while my puff pastry was melting in the 82 degree weather. I ended up using a glass and a medicine cup. I forgot to dock the dough on the first pan that went in the oven and was just praying that the amount of butter in the dough would keep it from sticking to the pan. It did. They rose fine and only one ended up oddly shaped, but I kind of liked it anyway.

We were required to make the dough from the recipe, make at least part of it in the traditional vol au vent shapes and fill it with something either sweet or savory. I have had lemon curd on the brain for a while, someone pointed me to this method of making it, so lemon curd it was. Sprinkled with a touch of powdered sugar, it was perfect. I did take the suggestion in the recipe to reduce the salt if making a sweet filling and brought it down to a third of the amount. Since it was a goal of mine not to have to make any special trips to the store for this, I used a slightly higher protein pastry flour in place of the all purpose flour and cake flour as the recipe directed.

Here was a particularly nice specimen before it was filled.

I ate the little centers straight, made a few other shapes as well, including some twists and Rich and I had a nice treat to share with our children and neighbors.

This was not hard to do, just a little time consuming. I was still able to make all elements of it and serve in about six hours, including taking a break to make and eat dinner. It was completely worth the effort. The texture and flavor of the puff pastry are amazing. I intend to do this again.

Thank you Steph for this fun challenge! The technique is similar to making croissants, which I have done, but I never pushed myself to make puff pastry. I think I will try to see if I can freeze the dough successfully and use it as store bought frozen puff pastry is used.

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I loved the shapes for the "covers" :) I'll have to try the lemon curd sometime.
I hope you do, it was very simple and tasted wonderful. Thank you for the compliments, by the way. This was lots of fun.
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