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Like all of you, I'm a number of things to a number of people...Navy wife, homeschooling mama, educated woman and aspiring writer. Read my thoughts on all of it here. Please feel free to leave your thoughts on all of it too!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Puff Pastry - Daring Baker's Challenge

Well, well, well...the time has come for my first post as part of the Daring Kitchen. My little sister (and her two blogs - life and food) turned me onto this fun and exciting idea....get monthly "challenges" to bake and cook! Fun, huh? The excitement is increased in that we all (all the challenge members) reveal our posts all on the same day to show what we've accomplished. People from all over the world are baking the same thing I am. Some are better at it than others...in this case I'm "other." But we're all learning, sharing, and just plain enjoying ourselves!

So, without further ado...here's my first challenge:

Puff Pastry

The recipe was provided in the challenge, along with a wonderful video to watch on how to make puff pastry. That video make a world of difference. The recipe itself was rather lengthy and scared me a touch. The video made it much more approachable. Anyway, you can find the recipe at the end of my post.

It turns out that puff pastry needs to be kept cold at every step, which can be tricky here in Georgia. I'm not sure if that was the issue or if my egg wash dripped over he sides too much or if I twisted the cutter when cutting out my shapes...all or any of these things can effect the puffiness of puff pastry. Who knew?

Anyway, mine didn't puff wonderfully...but it sure tasted good!

This challenges was not only to make the puff pastry but then to turn it into Vols-au-Vent. Sounds pretty neat, huh? From what I make of it, this is simply puff pastry, cut out, baked, and filled. We got to chose our fillings and could go a sweet or a savory route. The recipe makes a ton of pastry, so many challengers did both. I had a great plan to make the savory for dinner and let the kids chose a sweet filling for another night. I still might do that, I have frozen dough left, but for now I've just done the savory.

I actually attempted baking the dough twice, with the same results...not so much puff. The first time I found out that our camera had completely broken and couldn't take pictures of my seafood filling. Since then, though, we've gotten a wonderful new camera and you can all drool over my creation!

I started with two pieces of bacon, cut into about 1" bits. I browned them in a nonstick pot and took them out to drain when done. I added sliced red onions and cooked them on low for a while, added mushrooms and let them be happy together. Don't they look happy?

I should note that I could eat this combination on just about anything. So good.

After this, though I tossed in some scallops to cook through and finished it off with some black pepper, a spoon of cream of mushroom soup, and of course the original bacon. It was lovely (and reasonably healthy...just don't count the puff pastry!)

See? Lovely.
We enjoyed some blueberries and garlic veggies to complete our meal.
I'm excited about my first Daring Challenge and can't wait for the next!
Now for the recipe...
Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry dough (although they go on to use it in other applications). They do seem to give slightly different ingredient measurements verbally than the ones in the book…I listed the recipe as it appears printed in the book. http://video.pbs.org/video/1174110297/search/Pastry

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.
There ya have it! Give it a try, or at least enjoy this indulgent treat from the freezer section of your grocery store...it was way better from scratch though. No matter what, though...enjoy! Happy baking!


Pamela said...

Great job on your first challenge! This was my first challenge as well. I had some issues with the "puffing" of my pastry. I think a problem I had was using the silipat on top of the pastries while they baked. Not so much rise with all of that weight!


Wic said...

I think it looks delicous and thats the importend thing. you did great with this challange.

Mary Teresa said...

You did great sister!!!!
I'm so proud. *wipes away tears of pride* =D