Daring Bakers, Brunch and Some More Pate Feuilletee

When I learned that for this month’s Daring Bakers challenge we would be making puff pastry and vol-au-vents, I smiled. As I have said it before, I love laminated doughs and have tried my share of puff pastry recipes in this blog. Chocolate, inverted, tomato, raspberry… so this was the perfect excuse to try a new recipe.

Vol-au-vents remind me of home and they remind me of pintxo bars. I remember as a kid going out for pintxos with my uncles and aunts every Sunday morning. It was and still is a ritual for many people, pintxo bar hopping. From one good one to the next.

Vol-au-vents are the perfect vessel for small bites such as egg scrambles, sauteed wild mushrooms, seafood salads, chorizo… You name it and a vol-au-vent will hold it. So when presented with this month’s challenge, I immediately thought of making a very typical Basque appetizer that we had for brunch Saturday morning. An egg scramble with sauteed oyster mushrooms, green asparagus, garlic, goat cheese, purple basil, parsley and a bit of pink peppercorn. Super simple but loaded with flavor.

With the leftover puff pastry dough, I made thin pear and pistachio frangipane galettes that we also had for brunch. I can never have enough puff pastry.

As for this puff pastry recipe, it is very easy to roll, quick and very forgiving. However, I have to admit that I find that even though Pierre Herme’s inverted puff pastry recipe is harder to work with at first, it yields a flakier product in the end. That’s just my preference though and this was a great recipe that I will definitely try again.

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.

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.

Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent

Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.

(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d’oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)

Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.

Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.

Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)

Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)

Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.

Fill and serve.

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85 Responses to “Daring Bakers, Brunch and Some More Pate Feuilletee”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Your photography continues to get better every time I read your blog (which is daily!). Beautiful!

  2. Yummmy! I love the fact that it’s in measurements I can understand! LOL Your photography does continue to be just a beautiful as the goodies you make ;)

  3. Cakebrain says:

    I think these look so perfectly delicious! Your composition skills are wonderful too!

  4. They look wonderful and I love the galettes too, I have some pastry left which I froze and now I can’t decided whether to make galettes or tatin! Isn’t it funny how vol au vents bring back all different memories, mine aren’t so idilic as yours though but that’s the UK in the 80s for you!

  5. Juliana says:

    Oh so pretty! I will definitely try the savory ones when asparagus season is back.

  6. Simo says:

    Che meraviglia……………….

  7. Monika says:

    Those vols-au-vent look fabulous! After an effort to make puff pastry, it looks like we all succumbed to fillings that are simple, yet full of flavor. Your photos are stunning, as usual.



  8. Fra says:

    Wonderfull!! they are so gorgeous. You are so able

  9. As usual, your creations are amazingly beautiful! i love your presentation, choice of fillings and pretty shots!



  10. Junglefrog says:

    As expected you did a fantastic job on the puff pastry! Love the photos as usual too!

  11. Y says:

    Looks delicious! I still haven’t managed to find time to try the inverted puff recipe, but it’s on the list!

  12. Lauren says:

    Wow your photos are amazing, I love the look of the daisies. Your pastry looks perfect. Wish I could try one.

  13. Lovely clicks and lovely pastries! I’m feeling hungry.

  14. shaz says:

    Stunning photos! Those galettes look so pretty, and brunch sounds like the pefect time for vol au vents.

  15. VeggieGirl says:

    SPECTACULAR creations, as always!!

    Hope you’re doing well!! :)

  16. Aran says:

    Lauren- you mean the flowers on top of the galettes? Those are not daisies actually, they are feverfew flowers which is a new herb plant I got this week. The flowers look very similar to chamomile too.

    Thanks everyone for your kind comments!

  17. What a fabulous breakfast! Beautiful pictures!

  18. icicle says:

    I find laminated doughs incredibly intimidating. I’m sure to end up with a warm, flaky mess, not the beautiful examples that you have. I think I’ll take the easy way and find a pintxo bar with some on the menu — that wouldn’t be a hardship — at all!

  19. As always, the most immaculate photos. I love what you’ve made for this month’s challenge!

  20. glamah16 says:

    Your photos are so beautiful and I’m confident the food is equally delicious. I’m off to check the inverted puff pastry link. I loved the chocolate version you did a few months back.

  21. Hilda says:

    Of course they look and sound perfect, especially the traditional breakfast filling. I think doing ok with these means I may have the courage to try PH’s inverted puff, maybe, with a lot of encouragement…

  22. sweetakery says:

    Oh wow! fantastic job on the puff pastry! Stunning photos! very colorful and delicious! just feel like grabbing one and poppin it in my mouth! yumm

  23. Dominique says:

    Fabulous! I want to try all the recipes… Beautiful pictures, beautiful creations!!!

  24. Oh my gosh, your vol au vents look so delicious and the pistachio and pear galette – wow! Yummy!

  25. s says:

    fantastic layers great filling

  26. K.Line says:

    You really make the most beautiful pate feuillete I’ve seen anywhere. I can tell, by the incredible photos, exactly what texture it would be.

  27. oh how i love this!! vol au vent reminds me of home. this looks delicious perfect for all the vegetables that out in farm stands now!

  28. El says:

    It looks delicious… lot of work – but delicious…

  29. anna says:

    Oh! Your egg scramble vol-au-vents look like little bouquets – gorgeous! I also really like the inverse recipe myself but this one wasn’t too bad to work with.

  30. Hi from Scotland. I wonder if you could also provide the recipe from the pear galettes – they also look wonderful and I have a glut of pears at the moment.


  31. Beautiful as always, Aran. Lovely, lovely presentation and photography!

  32. Lauren says:

    Gorgeous! The vols-au-vent look stunning =D. Wonderful job, and beautiful photos!

  33. Gala says:

    Love all the different versions!
    Gorgeous pictures too….

  34. Aran says:

    Carole- the pear frangipane tarts were simple. Just cut a disk of pastry, dock the center, pipe some pistachio frangipane on top (http://cannelle-vanille.blogspot.com/2009/06/stone-fruits-baking-tarts-and-giveaway.html), thinly sliced pears and bake at 400F for about 15 minutes or until golden. That’s it!

    Thank you everyone for your comments!

  35. cindy* says:

    aran, the vol-au-vents and galettes are gorgeous (and delicious, i’m sure)!

    one day i’ll be brave and tackle a laminated dough :)

  36. zenchef says:

    I don’t know what i should comment about first.. the photos or the recipe. Both are simply stunning. :) I gotta try Pierre Herme’s inverted puff pastry recipe. It sounds/looks amazing.

  37. tara says:

    So beautiful! And really, you can never have enough puff pastry.

  38. Sue Sparks says:

    Your photographs are beautiful! Your Vols-au-Vent sound delicious…wish I was at the brunch! :)

  39. Frenchie says:

    I just love looking at your pictures all the time, but these are really especially beautiful. You managed to make your vols-au-vent look deleticate and enticing. I will definitely make a scramble for them next time, it seems like the perfect texture to go with the flaky puff pastry.

  40. Just ethereal & every so beautiful Aran. Love coming by with a lot of time to hang around, taking in the ambience you present. Your post is full of warmth, beauty & connections! Thanks you for sharing it…

  41. Beauatiful, I love the little asparagus tips.

  42. Inés says:

    Aran, argazki guztiak ikaragarri ederrak dira baina lehena bereziki. Zutik edo etzanda daude bolobanak? Bertikala edo horizontala da? Zaila da asmatzea benetan! Zinemagintzan ere gauza berbera egiten dute kamera eta aktoreekin. Eta zuk, oraingo honetan,kizkurra kizkurtu duzu. Ezin da hobeto egin neska!

  43. Vanessa says:

    All your creations are just breathtakingly beautiful. Now you’ve inspired me to try Pierre Hermé’s recipe too because I found making puff pastry so much fun. I adore asparagus, although I can’t find nay here in Germany so will have to wait a few more months before trying out your filling.

  44. Anita says:

    I love the presentation – very beautiful!

  45. Erika says:

    Muy buena presentación de tus preparaciones como siempre. Quería preguntarte , si freezamos la masa tenemos que tener algun cuidado especial al retirarla? O sea dejarla en la heladera o solo a temperatura ambiente. Y si lo mejor es freezarla ya con la forma definitiva o se puede volver a trabajar sin problemas.
    Gracias y cariños

  46. Aran says:

    Erika- lo mejor es congelar la masa una vez haberla estirado en laminas, asi el descongelarlo es muy facil. Siempre descongelalo en el frigorifico para mantener la mantequilla bien fria. Espero que te haya aclarado la duda. Gracias.

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I hope I can make all the rounds through all the blogs soon!

  47. MeetaK says:

    stunning creation aran! just lovely!

  48. It looks wonderful. I have to try it. Thanks for the recipe.

  49. Dolce says:

    I honestly think I could kill for the thin pear and pistachio frangipane galettes…

  50. How silly is it that I never thought of using these for brunch? That brunch idea sounds fantastic! and the thin tarts look delicious as well. Someday I’ll try out the inverted puff pastry, especially given your preference for it.

  51. TeaLady says:

    beautiful vols. They look so incredibly delicious!! And using the left overs for little galettes. Genius!!!

  52. Sugar Chef says:

    Aran, your brunch vols-au-vents look beautiful. I could sink my teeth into one of those pear ones too.

  53. Erika says:

    Gracias por la explicación y muchas gracias por tu tiempo

  54. ahh so nice! so, i have been saying that i refuse to do daring bakers for about two years now out of some strange anarchist mood….and. now i cracked and wanted in :P so i did it for the first time. and my pastry was crap….i’ve done puff pastry before, but this time….meh. i still got to photograph something.

    ps. congratulations on the martha stewart badge, i can now idolize you as well :)

  55. creampuff says:

    You are an inspiration in every way when it comes to baking. Really! That picture of your laminated dough speaks 1,000 words!

  56. Lina says:

    that looks sooo lovely! Such beautiful pastries. bravo!

  57. andaoana says:

    I love your creations. They look so delicate and so full of flavor.

  58. gasparini says:

    This looks great! Beautiful pictures!

  59. ibb says:

    Hauek bai egingo ditudala etxian…baina volobanak agian hobe erositakoak, jajajaj. Ez naiz hain abila, jajaja. Nire ex-a sukaldaria zan, baina azkenian nik egiten nuen lan gehiena, beraz desaprobetzatuak egon ziren urteak…gutxi asko ikasi nuen…jajajaja.

    Pintxo poteoak ez du preziorik, ez dago aktibidade hobeagorik.

  60. i can tell you are a puff expert! just gorgeous…i will have to try some little tarts like this with my leftover pastry!

  61. Anderburf says:

    These look lovely and so delicious. I just got some organic pink peppercorns from Sustainable Sourcing https://secure.sustainablesourcing.com and now I finally know what I should use them in first. Thanks for sharing!

  62. Hola Aran, hacia tiempo que no me paseaba por tu maravilloso blog! Me encanta volver y comprobar que superas lo insuperable, todo es tan bonito y apetitoso!! Volveré más a menudo!

  63. Lynette says:

    Hey Danielle, this is your most beautiful photo yet I think!

    I like the first one!


  64. como siempre Aran, nos dejas con la boca abierta, los volovanes te quedaron divinos, nunca he hecho hojaldre, pero despues de ver estas maravillas, me voy a animar, lo conseguire!



  65. Look at those delicious layers of puff!

  66. wow… I literally woke up this morning thinking about making vol au vents, and wishing you would post about it! the only recipe I have is in french, and I didn’t do such a great translation job last year :)

  67. Jabien says:

    Wow! I just can’t believe what you do all the time. It just makes me so hungry every time I read your blog! As for the pâte feuilletée I always wanted to do it myself but so afraid of messing up the whole thing wasting a long time making it!
    Anyway, love your blog, your pictures, your food, everything.
    Fabien, un français au New Jersey :o)

  68. aran – these look absolutely divine.

  69. fresh365 says:

    Lovely! Some day when I am adventurous enough to make puff pastry, this will be where I turn!

  70. Hace tiempo que no me como un buen brunch! Me comerias todas tus creaciones!!!

  71. intxaurtsu says:

    Itzelezko bloga dekozu, harritzekoa!!! sarriten sartu izen naz zure blogean, baina gatzegia ikusten nauen nik egiteko, eta geur konturetu naz nor zaren!! Zuk ez dostasu ezagutzen baina nik zure kuadrilla bai, aspalditik gainera. Ez dakit zer eukikozue zorrontzarrak baina zuk ospea lortu dozu zure blogagaz eta Eneko Atxak michellin izarra.
    Jarraitu horrela, izugarri disfrutatzen baitogu danok zure argazkiekin, artista

  72. Kelsey B. says:

    Your Daring Bakers photos are much better than mine – I need some lessons! :) I love being part of this new group, especially all the great blogs I get to read.

  73. Stunningly beautiful… as always a delight to visit your site. hugs from Hundewanderer.

  74. Aran, just amazing. I love the sound of the Basque speciality that you shared with us all. So unique.

  75. sa says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  76. Mami says:

    Hola Aran,

    What can I use instead of cake flour, as I live in the UK and we don’t have anything like that. Do you know what I can substiute it with?? muchas gracias.xxx

  77. Mami- you can use all purpose flour instead. it will work. thanks!

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