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Daring Baker Challenge: Vols-au-Vent

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.

I was so excited to see that the Daring Baker challenge for this month required making puff pastry. It’s been on my list of things to try for quite a while now, but I’ve always been a little intimidated by it. In fact, I slacked on making it right up until yesterday, when I finally took the plunge – and realized that it wasn’t bad at all! Time-consuming, sure, but not hard. The vols-au-vent was simple to assemble, and since I only used about 1/4 of the dough, I’m excited about all new things I can try using the leftovers!

Here’s what you’ll need for the puff pastry:

Note: For even more details and tips than I have listed here, please check out Steph’s printable version of the recipe!

Mix the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt together in a large bowl.

Add the water all at once, and mix until well-combined. Using a food processor is better, but since my tiny one wouldn’t hold all the ingredients, I just worked the dough quickly with my hands. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place the butter between two sheets of plastic wrap.

This is the fun part! Beat the butter with your rolling pin until it flattens.

I folded the top 2 sticks over the bottom two to make a square about 1″ thick.

Make sure the butter is still cool and firm. If it starts to soften, you’ll need to refrigerate it until it firms up again. Now, roll the dough out onto a floured surface. Roll out the four corners to create “flaps” that will encase the butter.

Place the butter in the middle of the dough, and fold over the flaps. (I didn’t quite keep to the square, as you can see in subsequent pictures. I hope to improve upon that the next time I make puff pastry to achieve more even layers in my dough!)

Roll the dough into a rectangle three times the size of your square, and then fold it into thirds.

Rotate the dough, and then repeat the rolling and folding process to complete the second turn.

If the butter is still cool and firm, you can complete another two turns now. Mine was okay, so I went ahead and did the next two turns. After that though, put the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, complete the last two turns. Place the dough back in the refrigerator for an hour before cutting and shaping the vols-au-vent.

When the dough is ready, divide it into equal pieces – I divided mine into fourths. Roll out the dough to about 1/4″ thick, then refrigerate it for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.

Using round cutters or the bottom of a glass, cut 2″ circles for the bottoms. Cut 2″ circles for the sides as well, but cut out a small circle in the centers of the side pieces for the filling. Save any scraps – you can always roll them out again! Lightly prick the bottoms with a fork.

Brush the pastries with an egg wash (an egg white or yolk mixed with a bit of water).

Refrigerate the vols-au-vents while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. When the oven is ready, place another sheet of parchment paper over the tops of the vols-au-vents. Bake 10-15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and remove the top sheet of parchment paper. Bake 15-20 minutes longer.

Remove to a rack to cool, and then fill with whatever your heart desires, be it sweet or savory. I went sweet and filled mine with a chunky homemade maple applesauce. One bite into the warm and buttery flaky layers, and I was hooked. If you’ve never made puff pastry before, don’t procrastinate any longer – you’ll be glad you didn’t!

Posted by on September 27, 2009.

Tags: , ,

Categories: breads & pastries

15 Responses

  1. Oh my these look so good. I’m going to have to put these on the top of my list of things to bake. I’ve always wanted to try puff pastries.

    by Stormie on Sep 27, 2009 at 10:34 am

  2. Wow! These are lovely – and tasty-looking, too! Nice work!

    by RJ on Sep 27, 2009 at 10:51 am

  3. That looks delicious and appropriately fall-ish! I need to get to making applesauce soon. And I love your fat little vol-au-vents, very cute!

    by anna on Sep 27, 2009 at 10:58 am

  4. Excellent job for your first attempt at puff pastry. Isn’t it fun to beat that butter:-)

    by Courtney aka glamah on Sep 27, 2009 at 11:20 am

  5. its the first time you were making puff pastry?? NO WAY.these look tooo good!

    by s on Sep 27, 2009 at 12:08 pm

  6. Oooh yum maple applesauce!
    They rose way better than mine….and I was way too lazy to take pictures of the process, good job!

    by Gala on Sep 27, 2009 at 1:03 pm

  7. good job!!! I saw this month’s and bowed out…you made it look so easy!

    by shelly (cookies and cups) on Sep 27, 2009 at 2:18 pm

  8. Cute blog! And these look delicious! I can’t imagine making my own puff pastry…but you DID make it look easy!

    by Audrey on Sep 27, 2009 at 3:36 pm

  9. WOW…Looks like you have it mastered! They are so airy and flaky! Beautiful!

    by Sue on Sep 27, 2009 at 5:56 pm

  10. Yum – the applesauce filling sounds tasty! Your vols-au-vent puffed up beautifully. This was the first time I made puff pastry, as well – glad the Daring Bakers gave me the extra push I needed. Now I can’t wait to make it again!

    by Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction on Sep 27, 2009 at 10:58 pm

  11. Beautiful puffs…well done. Love your choice of filling…awesome & so fall! yay for the Dbs!

    by deeba on Sep 28, 2009 at 2:10 am

  12. your pastry dough looks fabulous! I loved this challenge – and you did an awesome job!

    by Gaby on Sep 28, 2009 at 10:45 am

  13. oh i do like that filling. lovely going on the challenge – well done!

    by Meeta on Sep 28, 2009 at 2:31 pm

  14. Your V-a-V looks amazing! Great job!

    by Jenny Tan on Sep 28, 2009 at 4:48 pm

  15. Yum! Your vols-au-vent look excellent! I like the turnovers that you made with the extra dough too. When I get a chance, I’m gonna use my extra dough for napoleons (millefeuilles).

    by Kelly on Sep 29, 2009 at 12:11 am

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About Sugarcrafter

Hi there! I’m Tracy, and I live in upstate NY. My husband and I met in college and have been married since 2005. A Canning, baking, writing, photography, and even cleaning (yes, cleaning – it can be oddly relaxing), are all things that I enjoy. This blog brings all of those passions together – but […]more →