Monday, September 28, 2009

The Daring Bakers: Roasted Root Vegetable Vols-au-Vent

I was so excited for this month's Daring Bakers challenge, because I have been wanting to make puff pastry for a long time. Also, the recipe for puff pastry that was chosen was from Baking with Julia - a cookbook I bought several months ago, but had yet to bake anything from. My mind was racing with all of the possible filling options, and I actually made the puff pastry a week before the reveal date, but things just kept coming up and keeping me from actually baking and filling it. Today was finally the day (even though the reveal date was actually yesterday...).

I decided to go with a filling of root vegetables - red and chiogga beets, sweet potatoes and fingerling potatoes - roasted with whole garlic cloves, fresh rosemary olive oil and sea salt. It was beautiful and delicious.

The puff pastry was surprisingly easy to make, and not nearly as time consuming as I thought it would be. I was pleased with how my pastry puffed, though it leaked a lot of butter in the process. Perhaps I wasn't as careful as I should have been while I was making it... Nonetheless, it was so scrumptious. It had a rich buttery flavor - as anything containing a full pound of butter should have - and was quite flaky despite all of the leakage. I'll be making this again for sure, the possibilities are endless!

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

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


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.

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' Challenge has been chosen by Steph of a whisk and a spoon. Steph chose Vols-au-Vent, which we are pretty sure in French means, “After one bite we could die and go to heaven!” Wink


  1. Your puff pastry looks like it was a complete success, and the roasted vegetables look delicious!

  2. These are beautiful. Love the veggie filling.

    These were fun and fairly easy.

  3. That looks so yummy! I really wanted to do some savory fillings, but didn't have the time to experiment. Great job!

  4. Really pretty pictures and the filling sounds delicious.

  5. Great job with the puff pastry...congratulations, filling sounds wonderful!
    Peace, Stephanie

  6. I made these in Whisk Wednesdays and just loved working with the dough...have done it several times now and the taste is so far superior to anything you can buy, that I am not sure I will ever buy puff pastry again. Yours look so great and I love the way you have the veggies spilling out. Great job.

  7. I'm so glad to hear that the puff pastry wasn't too challenging. I've been wanting to try making it for quite some time now but have been a bit intimidated. Wonderful pics - roasted veggies are so yummy!

  8. Great pictures! Those vegetables look so delicious and your puff pastry is beautiful! :)

  9. your puff looks great, and i love, love, love the roasted veg! thanks for baking with me this month!!

  10. Great job on your vols-au-vent! I didn't have too much butter leakage (doesn't that sound like a gross disease?!), but mine rose kind of funky. But the buttery flavor was out of this world!! I'm so glad the recipe made extras!


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