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.
First of all - I cannot believe that I actually made my own puff pastry! I wish I had a picture of my face when I pulled the baking sheet out of the oven because I was astounded that I had actually done it. Seriously, I think I was grinning from ear to ear! Very soon after I had removed my vols-au-vent from the oven a pair of high school seniors appeared at my door wanting to sell candy to my seven year old in order to pay for a trip to ... Paris! Their timing was impeccable. Of course, they got a handful of cash! Had they been going to Cozumel I probably would have sent them packing! LOL!
Puff pastry is something most of us buy at the grocery store because it is a bit time intensive (but very easy to do!) Puff pastry is in the ‘laminated dough” family, along with Danish dough and croissant dough. A laminated dough consists of a large block of butter (called the “beurrage”) that is enclosed in dough (called the “détrempe”). This dough/butter packet is called a “paton,” and is rolled and folded repeatedly (a process known as “turning”) to create the crisp, flaky, parallel layers you see when baked. Unlike Danish or croissant however, puff pastry dough contains no yeast in the détrempe, and relies solely aeration to achieve its high rise. The turning process creates hundreds of layers of butter and dough, with air trapped between each one. In the hot oven, water in the dough and the melting butter creates steam, which expands in the trapped air pockets, forcing the pastry to rise.
Since it is officially fall up in these parts, I decided to fill my pastries with apples sauteed with a bit of butter, sugar, and cinnamon. I topped them off with a dollop of maple whipped cream and sprinkle of cinnamon. I used some of the pastry scraps to cut out tiny maple leaves for garnishes. If you cut shapes, I highly recommend chilling them like crazy before baking because some of mine spread quite a bit.
Thanks Steph for a great challenge! Please visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see how the rest of the group fared with their Vols-au-vent!