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Monday, September 28, 2009

Another Daring Baker Adventure! 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.

Woo hoo! I have never made puff pastry before, so I was super excited. I watched the little video everyone found that had Julia Child and Michel Richard making puff pastry (to be used for something else) and I made my quick dough in the food processor, and I got out my pound of butter, hammered it down into a disc, and wrapped my dough around it. Making a puff pastry means rolling out the butter-wrapped-dough and folding it onto itself, and then rotating the dough disc, rolling it out, and folding it onto itself again.

These are called "turns" and you need to complete 6 turns to complete your puff pastry. Also the butter has to be kept incredibly cold so you have to keep chilling your dough in between turns. All in all, it wasn't too bad of a task and it was fun! I'm glad to have tried it.

Next, for making vols-au-vents. I hadn't heard of these but it turns out they are just puff pastry "cups" to hold a lovely filling, savory or sweet. A classic vols-au-vent filling is a creamy mushroom mixture, like a thick soup, so I decided to do something similar and make a large vols-au-vent and whip up a thick and creamy chicken stew. It was like a chicken pot pie really, and it turned out to be so delicious! The Husband loved this so much, I made it a few more times for him throughout the week. Goodness, we ate a lot of puff pastry this week.

I had a few different shapes of "pastry bowls" - some small, some large, trying out a few of my biscuit cutters. I didn't have any small enough to make super cute little bites so I had to cut those by hand with a sharp knife. I had some leftover scraps of dough so I rolled them out into a rough square and covered them with cinnamon, rolled up each end towards the center, and then sliced them into palmiers. These were baked along with the vols-au-vent and after one bite of a cinnamon palmier, we fell in love and gobbled up all the rest This homeade puff pastry is so delicious!

There were a few other vols-au-vents left over from my first batch of baking, and after the delicious creamy chicken stew and cinny-palmiers, I couldn't leave well enough alone. The Husband already went snooping around and ate the "hats" of the remaining cups so I decided to just make fresh vols-au-vents the next day and use these up. I cut one ripe banana and sauteed it with brown sugar and butter, with a pinch of cinnamon... a quick banana foster! I poured this into the two remaining vols-au-vents and they were devoured shortly there after.

The next day I made a larger vols-au-vent for The Husband for more left over chicken stew and the extras were used for additional palmiers. I also made a few appetizer vols-au-vents, but savory with something besides chicken stew. I used chopped up black forest ham, gruyere cheese, and scallions. These were so delicious freshly baked, dipped in a little bit of dijon mustard.

These were a big hit with The Husband (as expected) and I would certainly do something like this for a party appetizer sometime. I think they would be crowd pleasers!

I also made some fillings for my dessert vols-au-vents for the next day - a pastry cream and some caramel dried apples (that were reconstituted in cider). The next day, I finally got home early enough from work to take advantage of daylight for taking decent photographs. I quick made 4 small square vols-au-vent (and some additional palmiers) and filled one with pastry cream and a raspberry on top, one with pastry cream with our favorite blueberry preserves, and the last one was filled with the caramel apple mixture. I was so excited to try this pastry cream.... then I found out it was basically vanilla pudding. What is that light and airy white cream that fills doughnuts... is that bavarian cream? I think that is what I was hoping for. Maybe next time :)

These dessert vols-au-vent were equally delicious and I decided to just use up the rest of the pastry dough and make a mini strudel with the remaining caramel apples for The Husband, and the rest got topped on a casserole of additional chicken stew (yes three times in one week, but he didn't complain due to the pastry!) which was baked into a delicious pot pie. I actually was being really good this week which means The Husband ate about 90% of the puff pastry batch in a matter of 4 days or so... uh-oh. :) Good thing he runs marathons!
Anyway, these were truly delicious and I had so much fun thinking of different fillings - savory and sweet - to go into these little beauties. Making the puff pastry was a great lesson and I might even make it again sometime (even with the frozen stuff being so readily available). Thank you Steph! Go to  Steph's blog for the recipe. :) Oh and sorry for being a day late, I can't believe I forgot yesterday!


  1. Gorgeous! I love all of the different shapes and sizes you made =D. All of the fillings sound delicious - great job!!

  2. Wow, you really came up with loads of fillings!!! They all look so good, especially the banana foster. Yup, I think we all ate lots of puff pastry this month, even though I've only made one batch! :P

  3. WOW, you really went all out, and I'm totally drooling over the bananas foster and ham, gruyere and scallion. Your vols au vent turned out beautiful too! Nicely done all around!!

  4. Fantastic selection of vols-au-vents. I love all the flavour choices you made, and all the shapes. How great is homemade puff?