Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September's Daring Bakers Challenge

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.

Mandatory parts of the challenge: We must make Michel Richard’s recipe for puff pastry (as seen below), and form at least part of it into vols-au-vent.
Optional parts of the challenge: Make your vols-au-vent large or small, and may fill them with whatever you choose (savory or sweet).

Since I have used puff pastry before, I was excited for this month's challenge. After thinking about what filling I would want to make and fill the pastries with, I choose to make a cheesy spinach filling. I filled my circular pastry "cups" with the spinach and cheese filling and with the left over filling, I made it into a cream sauce by making a rue to start and then adding the filling and milk to thin the mixture. I then drizzled the spinach cream sauce on the plate and placed the puff pastry on top of it. It was very delicious and I plan to make it again when I am out to impress, but would possibly used the frozen premade phyylo instead of making my own.

Spinach Cheese Filling:
4 cups chopped fresh spinach ( I used 2 packages frozen spinach. drained)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1/2 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened and cut up
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Sauté spinach and onion in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is tender. Remove from heat, and stir in cream cheese until blended. Stir in mozzarella cheese, feta cheese, cheddar cheese, egg yolk, flour, nutmeg and cumin. Set aside until your pastries are ready to be filled.

Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough
Ingredients:2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups ice water
1 pound 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.