Monday, September 28, 2009

Homemade Puff Pastry and Vols-Au-Vent for Daring Bakers September 2009

Dear All,
Puff Pastry,French,Julia Child,Dorie Greenspan

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' Challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

This is the first time I am making Puff Pastry at home and i totally enjoyed making them. It wasnt a difficult task if you have the right ingredients and especially if the weather is with you, but yes it's a little time consuming process so make sure you have enough time atleast 4 to 5 hours in hand.

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.


Vols-au-Vent with Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

-food processor (will make mixing dough easy, but I imagine this can be done by hand as well)
-rolling pin
-pastry brush
-metal bench scraper (optional, but recommended)
-plastic wrap
-baking sheet
-parchment paper
-silicone baking mat (optional, but recommended)
-set of round cutters (optional, but recommended)
-sharp chef’s knife
-cooling rack

Prep Times:
-about 4-5 hours to prepare the puff pastry dough (much of this time is inactive, while you wait for the dough to chill between turns…it can be stretched out over an even longer period of time if that better suits your schedule)
-about 1.5 hours to shape, chill and bake the vols-au-vent after your puff pastry dough is complete

Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent

Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent

In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

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.

Filling I used is Grilled Pineapples with Fresh Cream:
1 cup of pineapples, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup of whipped fresh cream


  • Mix first 3 ingredients together and grill them for 25 to 30 mins at 200 degrees C, until light brown.
  • Fill the vols-au-vent with a tbsp of fresh cream, add the cooled grilled pineapples and serve immediately.

*For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to "glue"). This will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight.
*Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.
*Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).


Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

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

Steph’s note: This recipe makes more than you will need for the quantity of vols-au-vent stated above. While I encourage you to make the full recipe of puff pastry, as extra dough freezes well, you can halve it successfully if you’d rather not have much leftover.

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.

There is another very helpful video by VahRehVah Chef for Pastry Puffs, here is the link

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


Steph’s extra tips:

-While this is not included in the original recipe we are using (and I did not do this in my own trials), many puff pastry recipes use a teaspoon or two of white vinegar or lemon juice, added to the ice water, in the détrempe dough. This adds acidity, which relaxes the gluten in the dough by breaking down the proteins, making rolling easier. You are welcome to try this if you wish.

-Keep things cool by using the refrigerator as your friend! If you see any butter starting to leak through the dough during the turning process, rub a little flour on the exposed dough and chill straight away. Although you should certainly chill the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns, if you feel the dough getting to soft or hard to work with at any point, pop in the fridge for a rest.

-Not to sound contradictory, but if you chill your paton longer than the recommended time between turns, the butter can firm up too much. If this seems to be the case, I advise letting it sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes to give it a chance to soften before proceeding to roll. You don't want the hard butter to separate into chuncks or break through the want it to roll evenly, in a continuous layer.

-Roll the puff pastry gently but firmly, and don’t roll your pin over the edges, which will prevent them from rising properly. Don't roll your puff thinner than about about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick, or you will not get the rise you are looking for.

-Try to keep “neat” edges and corners during the rolling and turning process, so the layers are properly aligned. Give the edges of the paton a scooch with your rolling pin or a bench scraper to keep straight edges and 90-degree corners.

-Brush off excess flour before turning dough and after rolling.

-Make clean cuts. Don’t drag your knife through the puff or twist your cutters too much, which can inhibit rise.

-When egg washing puff pastry, try not to let extra egg wash drip down the cut edges, which can also inhibit rise.

-Extra puff pastry dough freezes beautifully. It’s best to roll it into a sheet about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick (similar to store-bought puff) and freeze firm on a lined baking sheet. Then you can easily wrap the sheet in plastic, then foil (and if you have a sealable plastic bag big enough, place the wrapped dough inside) and return to the freezer for up to a few months. Defrost in the refrigerator when ready to use.

-You can also freeze well-wrapped, unbaked cut and shaped puff pastry (i.e., unbaked vols-au-vent shells). Bake from frozen, without thawing first.

-Homemade puff pastry is precious stuff, so save any clean scraps. Stack or overlap them, rather than balling them up, to help keep the integrity of the layers. Then give them a singe “turn” and gently re-roll. Scrap puff can be used for applications where a super-high rise is not necessary (such as palmiers, cheese straws, napoleons, or even the bottom bases for your vols-au-vent).


Verdict: I am so glad I opted this challenge, it was a new experience and i learnt so much from this challenge. Homemade puff pastry are far better than the readymade ones and it really isnt difficult. I would urge everyone to try making this at home atleast once.


  1. Wow !! This looks wonderful . Pineapple has always been one of my favourites. Puffs have come really nice. Keep up the good work !! :-)

  2. Looks fabulous. One day I'll make my own puff pastry. I love the stuff.

  3. wow great job, have been enjoying these posts today Rebecca

  4. You may say it is not a big deal but I am impressed

  5. Awesome work ,parita.The pastries look very well puffed and flaky :)

  6. Wow Parita Greatwork! The pastries look awesome!

  7. They look awesome Parita! Great clicks.

  8. I also loved making the puff pastry - your vol-au-vents have turned out great!

  9. Hats off to u much of patience?!!....That was a lovely long post with very useful info!I wanted to make puff pastry long back but always end up buying from shop...since the little one always needs attention, even the daily cooking is a challenge!Would love to participate in daring bakers...but shud wait for sometime i guess....lovely post...

  10. Hey hats off to u dear.. I know how much time it takes to do this puff pastry.. really looks so flaky and crispy...yummy with fresh cream and pineapple... hope u enjoyed ur weekend with yummy treat... Great job!!!!!!!!! Wonderful keep it up.

  11. I'm very impressed! It would have never occurred to me to make puff pastry at home! this looks awesome!

  12. Looks mouth watering parita. Very tempting.

  13. Pineapple and whip cream would be a perfect combo with the puff pastry. Great job!

  14. Delicious parita! The cream topping looks like snow on a golden crust! Tempting delight!:)

  15. OMG! What long long procedures! The pastries turned out really perfect and they look gobbleworthy!

  16. Lovely vol-u-vents! I have been wanting to make them for some time but not while it is hot. Maybe in December! It does call for a lot of patience!

  17. The recipe does looks long, but we get in the flow , dont we ? Great job Parita !! Yummy looking vol-e-vous :0

  18. my goodness! what patience you have! that looks so lovely... i am drooling :)

  19. Thanks for visiting us :-) You have got a wonderful space here.Puff pastry looks so yummy :-)

  20. Well done on the challenge Parita. Didn't know you were a DB. Great to see you on too. Lovely pastry & beautiful choice of filling. YUM!!

  21. Refreshing challenge wasn't it?

  22. Fantastic one, appreciate your attempt and efforts.

  23. Really worth ur efforts parita...looks so good and delicious...lovely pic

  24. Wow! Looks great.

    I did give it one shot, but there is no chance of a puff pastry happening in this Mumbai heat.

  25. Wowwwwwwwwwww.. this looks so tempting. Yummy :) But a threateningly long process :(

  26. great, simply great! the pastry, the pics, the very minute, intricate, detailed xplaination..

  27. Well done on this challenge Parita and lovely choice of filling.

  28. My My shud award u for the making itself i can just dream about making it at home..... luks gorgeous

  29. Gorgeous pastries Parita, u have put great efforts dear..

  30. Anyone who makes puff pastry at hime should get awards. Looks beautiful and yumm.

  31. wow, u have done an excellent job ..gr8 !!

  32. Well done! Your pastry looks great and the filling is too!

  33. very well done indeed..

  34. You are a pro now! Great job...
    Looks wonderful and must be heavenly...

  35. Great puff pastry. The grilled pineapple sounds delicous!

  36. Lovely pastry and great filling...yumm

  37. Wow!!!
    They looks fabulous Parita!!
    Brilliant job

  38. i am still too chicken to join the DB'ers. Good job!! :)

  39. Homemade puff pastry sounds wonderful and I love your Grilled Pineapples with Fresh Cream filling, yum!

  40. Awesome job dear...the hard work does show in the pictures...scrumptious treat :)

  41. Parita,
    Those Vols-Au-Vent look perfect! Wow I'm so in awe with your baking skills :)
    Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving such wonderful notes for me. I appreciate it. I'm also a follower of your blog now.

  42. Wow Parita-homemade puff pastry!! Excellent-hats off to you :)

  43. This looks really beautiful. You did such a wonderful job! I love your filling too!

  44. so beautiful & hats off to you for making your own at home.

  45. Congrats! What a successful first time! Hard to believe this is your first with puff pastry at home. Well done!

  46. great job, they look nice and puffy! i agree it wasn't too hard, but it was super time consuming!!

  47. sensational! i really like the puffy look of these. well done!

  48. Ahh, why did I have to skip this challenge!!!( Your puff pastry looks great! I think I will try making these sometime soon, when the weather cools off a little.

  49. Happy Dussehra to you and your Family.
    Puff pastry looks divine:)

  50. Happy Vijaydashami /Dasara to you and your family.

    Puff pastry looks so yum!

  51. WOW Paraita... you sure have lot of patience to try out the pastry sheets... has come out very perfect and looks so delicious... nicely topped with pine apples... just love them :)

  52. Perfect Parita puff pastry is my fav snack feel like having now send me some..

  53. Long Job Parita !
    I can see it was worth it !
    Awesome :)

  54. Hi Parita, great puff pastry, well done. They look delicious.

  55. Hi Parita, great puff pastry, well done. They look delicious.

  56. Lovely lovely,Hats off to you deargreat job

  57. Wow...that looks extremely that flaky puff pastry....nice color too...

  58. Kudos to you Parita for venturing into the making of the complex process of puff pastry.

  59. Looks superb!Beautiful Click,Parita!

  60. great job paree!! ye dough sound delish! sure u r a winner! :)

  61. Your vol-au-vent looks just perfect. Congratulations.

  62. absolutely lovely & perfect like all your other baking & cooking, they look so great, mine were an creative saga and at last ended up making it, with so much tensions, to even post it !!, but I did enjoy doing it now I am confident

  63. absolutely lovely & perfect like all your other baking & cooking, they look so great, mine were an creative saga and at last ended up making it, with so much tensions, to even post it !!, but I did enjoy doing it now I am confident

  64. Homemade puff pastry scaaaaaaares meeeeeeee! Yours looks like it turned out amazing!!!!!

  65. These look great, well done for taking up the challange, I am not brave as yet ;)

  66. They turned out perfect!! I bet the pineapple filling was delicious!

  67. Wow! That puffed up PERFECTLY! you are SO talented! I tried this once but it didn't really puff up right. You're AMAZING!

  68. Mmmmm .... too good Parita! The puffs look so soft and with all that cream ... yummmm! :-)

  69. Goodness! What a great effort Parita! Looks absolutely amazing :)

  70. Great job Pari. Looks awesome. Liked the pineapple filling.

  71. Phew!!!!! Reading the long post I could guess how cumbersome the dish is this time. But all the effort was worth. The result looks quite delectable and yummy. Great work Parita!!

  72. Awesome Parita! I read about Vols-Au-Vent recently. I liked the way you have taken shots which hav good exposure.


  73. Hey wow!! I must try out making puff pastry at home! Will surely try.

  74. wow this looks awesomee...too temptin..mouth watering..yummm


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