Daring Bakers in September: Vols-au-Vent with Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough

September 27, 2009 at 12:05 am | Posted in daring bakers, groups, other savory, other sweet, savory things, sweet things | 97 Comments

vols-au-vent (smoked salmon mousse canapé)

After more than two years as a Daring Baker (it all started with a mirror cake…), I’m so excited that Liz and Ivonne have asked me to host a challenge!  Woo-hoo!  But oh no–what to pick??  Looking over past challenges, I realized that we’ve covered a lot of territory!  One thing we haven’t made since I’ve been in the group, though, is our own puff pastry (aka pâte feuilletée).  Puff is something most of us usually buy at the grocery store, but in order to be really daring, we should try to make our own at least once, right?

Puff pastry is in the “laminated dough” family, along with Danish dough and croissant dough.  (In fact, if you participated in the Danish Braid challenge back in June 2008, then you already know the general procedure for working with laminated 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.

I picked a recipe for homemade puff pastry from Michel Richard, as it appears in the book Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. In order to showcase off the hundreds of flaky, golden, buttery layers in the homemade puff, we formed a portion of it into vols-au-vent– little puff pastry cases designed to hold a filling.  They can be made large enough for a full meal, or made small for little one-bite canapés.  Vols-au-vent are typically served hot and filled with a creamy savory filling (often poultry or seafood-based), but cold fillings, such as chicken or tuna salad, work, too.  Whipped cream or pastry cream with fresh or stewed fruit often goes into sweet versions.

vols-au-vent (vanilla whipped cream and strawberries)

Sizes of and fillings for the vols-au-vent were left up to the individual baker.  I made three types: a smoked salmon mousse canapé, a larger main course-size filled with tuna salad and a sweet version with vanilla whipped cream and bright red tristar strawberries.

vols-au-vent (tuna salad)

As it’s a little long, here’s a printable link to the recipe for puff pastry, as well as instructions for forming vol-au-vents and some extra tips.  Also, 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).  Dont’ be put off by the length of time it takes to make your own puff pastry (most of it is inactive, while waiting for the dough to chill between turns)…it really isn’t that hard to do!  I encourage anyone who has never made puff before to take a look at the video, get some good butter, and give it a try!

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in this month’s challenge– I know it required a lot of time and a lot of butter, both of which are precious commodities.  I appreciate your feedback and advice in the forums…not to mention your fabulous results!!  Also, of course, great big hugs go to Liz and Ivonne, not only for starting this group, but for keeping it alive and fun and so well-organized!  Check out the Daring Bakers’ Blogroll for more adventures in puff!

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.

DB lady whisk

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  1. Gorgeous vols-au-vent! Mine were not quite as pretty, but they were super fun to make and really delicious! Thanks for coming up with such an awesome challenge. I definitely NEVER would have made puff pastry on my own, but they were really fun and yummy, and I’m so glad I tried it! :)

  2. I just wanted to say thank you for what has been with out a doubt my favourite challenge to date. This is something that has been on my to do list for a ridiculous number of years……and now it’s done! Thanks so much! I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was so easy….I’ll never feel intimidated to try it again. Fantastic choice!

  3. Great choice! I think I’ll go enjoy one right now.

  4. Steph, a big hug to you for choosing this challenge. The best thing is we can see so many different filling. Creativity is in the air, isn’t it? :D

  5. Hi Steph, thank you so much for hosting this month challenge. It was really fun and delicious!

  6. Hi Steph,

    Thanks for choosing this recipe as this event made me realize that I have a baker in me who is crying to get out. Unlike the amatuerish baking that I used to do a year or so ago DB has made me make it more presentable..

    Thanks once again and you have a beautiful blog!!

  7. Thanks so much for hosting and for this challenge Steph! Your vols-au-vent look so professional and how puff pastry should rise. I didnt get mine to rise as much as I expected/thought they would but they still tasted great! Thanks again for pushing me to new heights!

  8. OH… and I wasn’t really being rude in my post with the things ‘M’ said about you… all just for the fun of it!!
    LOL!

  9. Thanks for a great challenge Steph! It was a great month!

  10. Thanks for a great challenge Steph, we loved it! It was my first time making puff pastry and i’m really happy with how they turned out. Yours look fabulous.

  11. Your vol-au vents looks fantastic! A great callenge.

  12. Hi Steph, thanks for a great challenge this month. Totally loved it and I must say that yours look fabulous. The layers are so flaky and the filings look yummy too.

  13. Thank you for such a fabulous challenge Steph. I’m glad I strayed outside my confort zone – I’m definitely making my own puff pastry from now on. Nothing beats the taste and texture.

    Your strawberry vol au vent look absolutely yummy… Thanks again!

  14. Loved the perfect layers. Great job!

  15. Congratulations on being a DB for so long, and for hosting this month’s challenge – I’m continually inspired by your baking expertise!

  16. Thank you so much for picking this challenge and hosting it. We love puff pastry (is there anyone who doesn’t?). I had some issues, but they got sorted out eventually.

    Of course, your vol-au-vents look gorgeous.

  17. Thanks for being our host this month Steph – love your fillings. I am also happy to have more home-made puff pastry stashed for future use in the freezer.

  18. Super défi à réaliser Steph ! merci beaucoup de l’avoir proposé ! c’était bien le fun à faire :)

  19. Love them all!

  20. Thanks for this fantastic challenge. I never thought to ever try make my own puff pastry but it turns out I absolutely love it, from the process to the eating.

    I had a lot of fun with this challenge and still have filling ideas rampaging through my brain for a later time.

    This recipe is a keeper!
    :)

  21. Your pastry looks perfect. great job!!

  22. Hey well done – they look fantastic! Mine are up in all their glory as well.

  23. Thanks for hosting this challenge. I enjoyed it and like you said not too sure if I would have ever made it myself. Your vols-au-vent’s are beautiful.

  24. Thanks so much for hosting this Steph and what a great recipe and idea you picked! I loved making these and can’t imagine buying them from the supermarket anymore! :)

  25. I’ve only made puff pastry once and can attest to the patience and volume of butter required. Your results are spectacular!!

  26. Steph, I just wanted to thank you again for hosting this month’s buttery challenge. I think we all feel as though we conquered a recipe which we may have not dared to attempt before. Ergo the title Daring Bakers. :) You made a delicious choice and I now have much more confidence in my baking capabilities! My only mistake was not copying the part of the recipe which explains where to put the egg wash on the pastry. I used far too much and my puffs did not puff up very far. :P However, my taste for store bough puff pastry has been tarnished and I plan on using this recipe in the future. Thanks!!

  27. Hi Steph,

    Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed this challenge. This was probably the easiest puff pastry I have ever worked with. Thanks for all the great tips to help us complete it!

  28. I love the pic with the strawberries, gorgeous! And what a great challenge, great choice!

  29. Thank you Steph for this wonderful challenge I really enjoyed it so so so much this is the 1st time I hsve ever made puff pastry and I found it it to be a great experience and the chosing the fillings is almost as much fun. I did a heap of them.

    Your trio of shells are great and those strawberries are so rich and read. Marvellous layers in the puff. And thanks again for chosing puff pastry it is great recipe to have under my belt.

    Cheers from Audax in Austalia.

  30. Thank you for hosting this Challenge. It was fun to make my own puff pastry and I will make it again, at least for special occasions.

  31. These are SO beautiful!! I love how simple and clean you make them. Perfect!

  32. Thanks for a great challenge, Steph!!

  33. Thanks for a wonderful challenge!! I enjoyed playing with it very much =D. Yours look stunning!

  34. Thanks so much for picking this challenge! I would probably never have attempted to make my own puff pastry if it wasn’t for the challenge. It was actually easier then I had feared it would be and I loved the results! Love your choice of fillings too!

  35. Thanks for hosting such a beautiful challenge Steph. I loved it to the ‘T’, even though my pastry didn’t behave given the high temperatures in my part of the world…but gosh, it tasted YUM! Am just trying to finalise my post, but thought I’d stop by before that!

  36. Hello, Steph. I’m a Daring Baker’s member too and i’d like to thank you for this amazing challenge. I enjoyed so much making this. I learned a lot too.
    Your vols-au-vent look beautiful and tasty! congrats

  37. Believe me, Steph, the pleasure was all ours! You have been a tremendous hostess and your challenge has been one of my very favourites. Your execution of the vol-au-vents is stunning. Congratulatons on a job well done!!!

  38. Steph – superb!!! I love that PBS online video vault – and have watched that episode. Only made P pastry once, and it’s a chore (at least mine was). These photos are spectacular – I love the flakey, layered look and the strawberries… simply wonderful!

  39. Wow what a rise! Thanx for the challenging challenge!

  40. All your vol-au-vents look fantastic. Love how you have got one for each part of the meal – starter, main and dessert! Thanks for choosing such a fab challange

  41. WOW! So flaky, golden and puffy! :) Just beautiful! Love your photos too:) THANKS SO MUCH for the great challenge-I loved it!

  42. Thanks for hosting a great challenge. I did one on my own a few months back, and I know how much work it is!! Your vols-au-vents look perfect, I love how we can see the flaky layers, crazy.

  43. Your puff looks perfect…you can almost count the 729 layers!! Love all the tips too.

  44. Steph, thank you so much for a fantastic challenge, I really enjoyed it every step of the way. Your vols-au-vent look phenomenal!! Thanks again, my baking confidence really great a lot from this one.

  45. Thank you for a great challenge! I would have never tried this if it weren’t for you and the Daring Bakers.

  46. Thank you for this wonderful challenge!! It was the first time i made puff pastry at home and it came out really good!

  47. Beautiful.

  48. Thanks for organizing such a great challenge, Steph! This was my first and it was a blast. Can’t wait for the next time!

  49. Hi Steph! Thank you so much for choosing this challenge. I’ve been wanting to make my own puff pastry for ages, but your instructions and pictures actually got me to make it. I love your vols-au-vent and beautiful pictures. Thanks again!

  50. Thanks so much for a great challenge! I loved making the puff pastry. I don’t know if I will ever be able to buy store bought again! :)

  51. Thank you so much for such a great challenge Steph, not only was it a great workout but it was a lot of fun. Store bought puff pastry just cannot compare, so I guess my arms will be getting pretty strong.

  52. thanks for the excellent challenge. it was so much fun.

  53. Thank you for really great challenge. I imagine everyone was really happy with this and thier creativity shows!

  54. Thanks for a great challenge Steph, I’m thrilled I was able to make puff pastry at home. My mom’s gonna be very proud :)

    Your vols-au-vents are out of this world!!

  55. Thank you for hosting a fabulous challenge. I had a lot of fun working with the dough.

  56. That pastry looks deliciously perfect! Ive made crossants a couple of times…it was very time consuming.
    Gorgeous photos too.

    Rose

  57. your puff pastry looks like one of the best I have seen! all those layers. how wonderful. sorry I didnt get to bake this one with you this month

  58. A big thank you, Steph! I didn’t know I could make puff pastry until now…though it didn’t turned out as gorgeous as yours. Also thanks so much for your help when I so needed one at the last minute! :P It was fun! :)

  59. Steph, thank you so much for the challenge, lots of fun and brought make many memories!

  60. Thanks for hosting and choosing so well. Yours are fabulous!

  61. Great job on choosing Vol au vent for this month’s challenge. Thanks Steph, it was great fun! :)

  62. Your puff pastry and vols-au-vents look perfect! Thanks so much for this great challenge! I’ve always wanted to make puff pastry and this was the push I needed :)

  63. Ciao Steph ! I really loved this challenge ! It was the one I feared since the beginning and… it was fun !!! Grazie !

  64. Thanks, Steph, for hosting this great challenge. I really appreciate that you chose this recipe without the extra butter incorporated in the dough. I previously tried that recipe and failed but with this recipe I had success ( after ironing out a couple of issues!!!) Your fillings look delish!

  65. thank you thank you thank you for this challenge i had a lot of fun playing around with this!

  66. Oh my goodness! I didn’t realize that these are the ones you made! When I saw them along with the recipe you provided, I thought they were all done professionally and you got the photos off Google or something. Seriously, they look amazing!!
    Also, I wanted to thank you for the fun challenge and detailed recipe you provided – that was really helpful!

  67. Thank you for the chance to make puff pastry – it was so much easier than I thought it would be! I never got the chance to post it (Blogherfood + work + life), but rest assured that I absolutely loved this challenge!

  68. Thanks for this challenge. Have made puff pastry before, but not vols-au-vent. Fun. Yours are gorgeous.

  69. Great challenge, Steph! I made dessert vols-au-vent like your’s with strawberries and vanilla whipped cream. I have plenty of dough left so I think I’ll have to try it with your smoke salmon mouse. Great pics (as always)!

  70. Thank you for such a nice challenge Steph, I appreciated it even more so… that it was (finally) a real challenge! Yours are very pretty and technically flawless!

  71. Thank you for a great challenge! I never thought I would conquer puff pastry.

  72. HUGE hit at my house. Fabulous challenge – thank you so much!

  73. Thanks for this great challenge! I had a lot of fun playing around with this!
    Your vols-au-vent looks beautiful!

  74. It was a lovely challenge – I have learned a lot of new techniques. Oneday, maybe, I’ll get the pastries looking like those snazzy little pastries you have made. Thanks so much for a wonderful challenge.

  75. Thanks so much, Steph! Besides making beautiful puffs yourself, you’ve introduced me to a fantastic new recipe and really boosted my culinary confidence!

  76. Great challenge! I will never again buy puff pastry from the store! =)

  77. I LOVE Michel Richard! LOVE LOVE LOVE Him. He is one of the biggest chefs in DC next to Jose Andres, and while I was living there, I went to Central Michel Richard so many times because of his amazing lobster burger! Awesome choice for this puff pastry – all over the blogosphere it seems like it was a huge success!

  78. Steph, amazing challenge choice. I LOVE Michel’s puff pastry recipe, and was in heaven when I saw you chose it! That said, your vols au vents are stunning, perfect layers and color. I need to practice these more…when I get better :)

  79. Thanks for hosting- I had wanted to try my hand at homemade puff pastry for ages, so I’m glad I finally had an excuse to make it!

  80. thanks so much for such a great challenge. This was my first one and I can only hope that next months is as much fun. You vols-au-vents look amazing

  81. I think that this might have been my favorite challenge in the year since I’ve joined up with the DB’s. It really made me feel like a super hero. So thanks for that boost, and yours look gorgeous!

  82. Thanks for a great challenge Steph!
    Your vols au vent are much higher and lovelier than mine, but I loved the way mine tasted. I’ll definitely make puff pastry again, esp. since using it to make pizza won rave reviews over here.
    Thanks again!

  83. I just wanted to stop by and say THANK YOU for choosing such a great challenge! I haven’t made puff pastry in a long time and your notes were really great and it brought it all back to memory for me. Loved this challenge! :)

  84. Thanks for a great challenge!

  85. Very well done! Your pastry is magnificently puffy and looks so flaky! I love your choice of fillings!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  86. Gorgeous pastry and fillings. Thanks for this challenge, I doubt I would have made it without you!

  87. Thanks for the great challenge! Your pastries look awesome!

  88. You made a great choice with this one Steph. Bravo!

  89. Hi Steph,
    Just wanted to thank you for choosing such a great recipe. I had alot of fun making it, and was very very happy with the outcome. I think that these home made puff pastry tastes soo much better than the store bought ones. I’ll be making extra puff pastries to store in the freezer, as they’re very handy. Once again, thank you =D

  90. Thanks so much for this great challenge. I have made puff many times before but this is going to be my go to recipe from now on!

  91. Thanks again for picking a fantastic challenge :)

  92. Hi Steph!! Great choice!! Your Vol-au-Vent are incredible and so delicious!!

    Thank you for hostess a beautiful challenge!!

  93. Wow, Princess Stephanie! These are royal! I am so excited to see yours. They are just beautiful. I don’t know where I’ve been but all I can say is WOW! THis is without a doubt a show stopper. Congratulations on your choice and your hosting op. Almost 100 comments too. I can’t imagine. Anyway. Thanks for all your encouragement to make PP as well. I just acquired Baking w/Julia in recent weeks and so I may actually give it a whirl. Wonder if you can freeze it for the holidays?
    AmyRuth

    • Amy Ruth– Puff is perfect for the freezer! If you are making your own, once you’ve completed all the turns, I’d advise you to roll it into sheets before wrapping and freezing. Then they defrost quickly and you can use them just like store-bought.

  94. great pick! I enjoyed this one, just wish I hadn’t put it off for so long (like I always do). I like the idea of using them as a savory dish for appetizers :)

  95. This was my first DB challenge and I loved it! Thank you so much for choosing puff pastry as I have always wanted to try it but have never “dared”. Your vols-au-vent are just gorgeous and so inspiring.

  96. I just wanted to thank you for all the hard work in making this so clear and easy to understand…thanks for all the tips and links. I am doing it right now and hope to post about it on my blog soon. Wonderful job!


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