September 29, 2009
It’s hard to find time to bake when school is in session. Or to do anything else for that matter. I have a couple of blog entries that I want to put up, and I haven’t gotten to any of them. Actually, right now I should be tackling the mountain of homework I have. Shhh, don’t tell…
Anyways, I carved out an entire Sunday to tackle my first Daring Baker’s challenge: puff pastry 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 started making the dough on Saturday. I used normal butter and a substitute for cake flour. After reading the directions a couple (hundred) of times I began, but immediately I thought something was going wrong. The butter seemed to have separated under the dough, and I was rolling it in chunks instead of one flat sheet. My first breakdown ensued (I have way too many, and I blame them all on school; all that stress of homework and tests is not good for anyone!). My parents came home to find me working on my calculus homework and sniffling. “I’d rather be good at baking than calculus!” I exclaimed. They, being the amazing, supporting people they are, rushed out to Whole Foods the next morning to buy me butter with the correct butterfat percentage, and pastry flour, which I used instead of the cake flour and all-purpose flour combination.
I made both batches of the dough. The first one became a mini apple pie, filled with apples and cinnamon whipped cream. The second was eaten with chocolate-strawberry mousse. I actually didn’t notice too much of a difference between the normal dough and the one with the fancy ingredients. Even the fancy butter didn’t stay in one sheet when I was rolling (maybe it was too cold?), so perhaps this had something to do with it. Also, both leaked butter while in the oven (the second batch slightly less than the first ) which they’re not supposed to do, so something was not quite right. Perhaps is was because I didn’t have the correct size biscuit cutters (I cut some of them with a bottle cap… probably not the cleanest cut edges in the world.) Neither of the batches rose quite as high as they should have, but they did rise, and they were edible, and they were homemade vols-au-vent, so I was proud of myself! I’m happy to have completed, however imperfectly, a DB challenge, and can’t wait for the next one!
I brought the left-over chocolate-strawberry mousse and vols-au-vent to school, along with some powdered sugar to serve over it. I prepped a bunch for all my friends and classmates in chorus, and they loved them! I was so happy, and the puff-pastry did look really professional (it had better, after all that work!). That’s one of the things I love about baking; good desserts are always welcomed, admired, and devoured with pleasure.
The recipe for the puff-pastry is on the Daring Baker’s website. I’ll post the recipes for the mousse, apple filling, and whipped cream here.
Apple Pie Filling
3 cups apples (about 3 apples)
½ tsp nutmeg
generous 1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla
¼ cup dark brown sugar (this makes it taste like caramel; yum!)
1 tbl butter
Cut apples, drizzle lemon juice over. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and vanilla. Taste and adjust to your liking.
Pour into small baking dish (ex: 6×7 inches) and dot with butter.
Bake 30 mins at 350 degrees, or until apples are soft when pierced with knife.
*Note: You can’t do much wrong here. Just make sure it’s sweet and spicy enough for you, and cook it in the oven until the apples are at a texture you like.
Makes enough for 1/2 batch vols-au-vent
Cinnamon Whipped Cream
6 oz. heavy cream
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbl white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Combine all ingredients in bowl and whip until mixture turns soft peaks, or is at the consistency you like your whipped cream to be at!
Makes enough for 1/2 batch vols-au-vent
Chocolate Strawberry Mousse
Adapted from About.com
¾ cup of good quality dark of semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet, but would use dark next time)
2 Tbsp of whipping cream
3/4 cup of whipping cream
1 large egg, separated
1 cup strawberries, diced very small (you could probably use more if you wanted to)
Add 2 tablespoon of cream and chocolate to a clean metal bowl. Place bowl on top of a saucepan filled with enough water to simmer for several minutes. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl.
Heat gently and stir chocolate/cream mixture with a metal spoon until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Remove the chocolate mixture from the stove to cool just slightly. Add the egg yolk to the chocolate mixture while stirring until combined and smooth. Place the bowl over the saucepan filled with hot water to keep the chocolate warm but don’t turn the heat back on.
Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add half of the melted chocolate to the whipped cream with the metal spoon and fold until just combined. Fold in the remaining chocolate mixture but be careful not to over mix. Set aside.
Use a clean electric mixer to beat the egg white until soft peaks form and then fold it into the chocolate mousse mixture, along with the strawberries. Cover, and refrigerate mousse for one hour, or until at the consistency of your liking.
Makes enough for a full batch of vols-au-vent, or half a batch plus lots of snacking!