Thursday, October 1, 2009


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.

At long last I feel that I have accomplished something great. I didn't want to do this project and I procrastinated really bad but here we are with home made puff pastry. This was a surprising success. My mom of course said, "Oh honey. Don't be disappointed when this doesn't turn out." The instructions weren't the best. (Sorry Daring Bakers but it's true.) It took several hours and I pretty much got flour all over the kitchen and my hair.

Grandma said that my great-grandma used to make this from scratch. In this day and age we have to refrigerate in between "turns," or rolling and folding the dough to make the layers of puff. But then she did something that I don't quite understand. She would roll the dough, fold it, roll again, fold, then place in a cheesecloth and dump into a bucket of water. When the dough rose to the top of the water it was ready to be taken out and rolled and folded again. Grandma didn't know how many turns this took but it all had to be done in one day. I did it in two days mostly due to laziness and television watching. The whole idea of the recipe I used was that it would work out as long as the dough remained cold. How did she do this if everything was room temperature? Even the butter was delivered to her soft and warm. I took mine out of the fridge and beat it to death in between my dough made in a food processor. Thank goodness for modern appliances. I wish I could go back in time for a month to see how they did all of this stuff. Grandma wishes she could remember the tricks but is also glad for convenience.

Filling was a really tough choice. I opted for sauteed apples in a pan with butter, allspice, and maple syrup. I have a ton of dough leftover so I intend to do something more challenging with it. Grandma recommended a cheese filling her mother used to make. She had all kinds of ideas that were too complicated for my first try such as poppy seed with oranges in a strudel or spinach and chicken pastry rolls. There will be more to come! I'm thinking puff pastry with veal in a marsala sauce next. I've never once eaten veal.

Waiting until the last minute to make this was truly stupid this time around. These challenges are supposed to be up by September 27. I started on the 27th, but realized soon after that it was the eve of Yom Kippur and I intended to fast the next day. I tried to fast and lasted until 1:30pm which is two hours longer than last year. Yes you can laugh at me if you want. I think it's good to make this attempt even though I am not religious. It seems healthy to give your body a cleanse once a year, but since I always manage to get a horrific headache and become an irritable scary woman I've never been able to do it the whole day.

After I went to a yoga class on Yom Kippur I was ravenous. Another woman in the class was fasting but said that she was going to give up in the afternoon. Should I feel guilty that I ate homemade puff pastry in the afternoon of the highest holiday? I don't really. My mom and grandma joined me because they got headaches too and decided it wasn't worth it. Mom always tries to fast and usually succeeds but a word to the wise would be to stay away from any woman that hasn't eaten all day. It's scary stuff. She got such a bad headache and started smoking and drinking coffee like a mad woman. I asked her if it was ok with religion to smoke instead of eat for Yom Kippur and she said no and that she felt guilty. Thank goodness for something sweet yet again.

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