Friday, October 9, 2009

Mastering puff pastry and vols-au-vent

vol-au-vent 017-crop v2

Kitchens should be getting cooler in the northern hemisphere…says Steph innocently from her home in Sydney.  No such cooling took place in good old Texas in September, where temperatures were still reaching the 90’s and when I was supposed to post this Daring Bakers challenge.

I’ve baked with lots of purchased puff pastry in the past (“Mom, can you make pastries for breakfast today?”) but I have never taken the time to make it from scratch.  Now I remember why!  If you live in Texas, my friends, it’s an all-day process during the month of September!  We’re still struggling to keep our homes cool, so the conditions are not exactly conducive to a process that requires keeping the butter solid cold while you perform a series of turns which creates the flakiness of the dough.  Roll, fold, turn, chill and wait; roll, fold, turn, chill and wait again; roll… and so it went all day long.  The key to successful puff pastry is to keep the butter from playing hookie on your counter instead of being obediently enveloped in the dough while you’re rolling it.  A cool marble countertop cool to look at and cool to the touch would be sooo perfect for this project…note to self –  make sure you get at least one marble countertop for making pastries when you redo the kitchen!   

DBMiss Measure_v150x200I’m not a master yet when it comes to making puff pastry, but it was good enough to produce the vols-au-vent (literally “windblown” for its airiness), pictured above.  Vols-au-vent are typically served hot and are filled with a creamy savory filling.  I filled them with a chilled fresh Crab Salad –  who wants to heat up the stove in 90 degree weather?  

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.  Thanks Steph for organizing the challenge and thanks to Lis and Ivonne for rocking the Daring Bakers every month with their cool challenges!

Vols Au Vent:
Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough.  If you are interested in making your own puff pastry and/or vols-au-vent, please click
here to see the recipe and a detailed explanation.  Also included are helpful instructional videos.  The selected instructions below describe my pictures only.

Place the block of cold butter (the beurrage) in the middle of the dough (the détrempe) and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely.  This dough/butter packet is called a paton and is rolled and folded repeatedly (turning).fall veggies and vol-au-vent 030-crop v2

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" …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!). fall veggies and vol-au-vent 043 v1

The total number of turns needed is six…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. fall veggies and vol-au-vent 050 v2  
Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. vol-au-vent 003 v1 
Crab Salad  enough to fill about 12 vols-au-vent, but also good on a bed of lettuce!

1 pound fresh lump crabmeat (none of that rubbery imitation stuff, ok?)

¾ cup red bell pepper, finely chopped

2 shallots or ½ red onion, finely diced

2 jalapenos, finely diced

zest of 1 lime

juice of 2 limes

leaves of about 10 stems of cilantro, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 scallions, sliced thinly on the diagonal

Pick through the crabmeat to remove any scales.

Place red bell pepper, shallots or red onion, jalapenos, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, vinegar and olive oil in a bowl. Whisk to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add crabmeat and gently mix it in. Top with scallions and serve with salad greens or in vols-au-vents.

vol-au-vent 012-crop v1



  1. Svaka cast... za ovako lepe stvarcice zaista treba umece... fotke su predivne :)

  2. Just drop dead gorgeous Morgana. Excellent VAVs...and ever so professional. Your pictures are beautiful too! Hugs Deeba


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