Pardon my french. Phew! It’s 1:45am on October 27, the day all Daring Bakers posts go up. I was really looking forward to this month’s challenge, but I was doing a bit of traveling this month and with a focus on exercise, I couldn’t bring myself to make my favorite pastry in the world and not indulge. That being said, it’s almost Halloween, so screw the diet! Mmm . . . millefeuilles.
That’s right, the challenge this month was to make puff pastry dough (which I’ve done before), pastry cream (which I’ve done before), and layer the two in perfect harmony with each other (which I’ve never done). I’ve wanted to make millefeuilles for quite some time so I’m glad I was able to pull it together so last minute.
For the puff pastry, I used the recipe from two years ago when us Daring Bakers were challenged to make vols-au-vent. Just a quick YouTube refresher on turning the dough, that part of the process was done.
I also used an old standard for pastry cream that I highly enjoy, doubling the recipe because you can never really have too much pastry cream. Check.
Two days later and back from a short trip to Austin to see Bob Schneider, it was time to put it all together. There wasn’t too much instruction on rolling out the pastry dough except that it should be about the thickness of cardboard. Not wanting to waste all my dough, I baked one of the three layers on the first cookie sheet, rather than baking all the layers at the same time. As noted, I put another cookie sheet on top of the dough to weigh it down and stuck it in the oven to bake at 200F.
Uh oh. The dough was not doing anything after 15 minutes. Looking at the instructions again, it said to bake at 200C /400F. Whoops! I upped the temp and thought I’d try to keep baking the first layer anyways. It worked fine, but I found that I needed to use two cookie sheets to weigh the dough down. Puff pastry just wants to rise and rise and rise.
After baking the next two layers, I started getting all the other components ready to go. The recipe provided by our host used a royal icing to top off the millefeuilles. First of all, I’ve been to France about ten times. And each time, going to a Boulangerie/Patisserie to get a millefeuille tops my list of things to do. Never have I had one with royal icing on top. It always has a smooth, shiny glaze that sets up just enough but never hardens completely. That’s what I wanted to top mine off with.
After some internet searching, I found what I was looking for is poured white fondant. Only fondant I’m familiar with is that gross dough like mass that you roll out to cover cakes. Yes, I know fondant is so mainstream now, but it’s really not tasty. However, there exists a pourable fondant that is made by boiling sugar and water, then adding a little cream of tarter and corn syrup.
Running out of time, I really hoped I would get this white fondant down on the first try. The boiling process went well, paying close attention to getting it to the right temperature and then back down to about 120F before working with it again. From my research, I found that you can finish it in a stand mixer rather than hand pull/knead it. It will change from clear and runny to white and thick. I think I may have read the instructions wrong because after 7 minutes of mixing, it hadn’t changed color or texture much. After a reread, I changed my beater to the dough hook and voila! White and thick.
Now wait a minute! This fondant is not pourable!
After yet some more research and stumbling upon this very helpful blog, I whipped up a simple syrup and incorporated it into the fondant and all was right in the world.
Assembly went well except that my pastry cream of choice is maybe a little too thin for millefeuilles. And even though I doubled the recipe, they didn’t bulk up to the height I wanted. Don’t get me started on cutting them! I cut them in a few chunks but need to finish cutting them in single servings when I wake up, which hopefully will give the pastry cream a little bit more time to set up. Plus, I don’t have any super sharp knives which makes cutting them even harder.
Now, today is my grandma’s 80th birthday and we’re going to the Arboretum to celebrate. Normally, I would make a cake for the occasion. And for an 80th birthday, I wanted to go big. But walking around an Arboretum really doesn’t fit as a place to bring a large cake to. So birthday millefeuilles it is! And hopefully my grandma will enjoy these pastries as much as I do.
Our October 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Suz of Serenely Full. Suz challenged us to not only tackle buttery and flaky puff pastry, but then take it step further and create a sinfully delicious Mille Feuille dessert with it!