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Monday, September 28, 2009

Daring Bakers' Vol-au-Vent

Thanks to Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon for hosting DB September's Challenge: Vol-au-Vent. It was a real challenge none of us would ever forget, especially those who live in the tropical country. Regardless of the raining season we have right here in Thailand, it was still crucial to stand next to the fridge. And I was not feeling so well last week, that made it even harder to focus on the turning. Did it 6 or maybe 7, couldn't remember exactly. Anyway to sum up, it was tough, really tough!! I wish my air-con could be as cold as my fridge :-)

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.

Don't forget to check out on-line video from the PBS showing Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry dough.


Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough

- Unbleached all-purpose flour > 2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g)
- Cake flour1 > 1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g)
- Salt(you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations) > 1 tablespoon
- Ice water > 1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml)
- Very cold unsalted butter > 1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g)
- 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.

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

- 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.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Just came back from weekend's beach resort holiday, I finally had to remind myself of one small task I need to do following my last DB Cooks challenge: posting the recipe for my sweet Dosas. Some of you might be waiting and some might have come up with your version of recipes.

Next to Debyi's Indian Dosas, I developed sweet Dosas which happened to be so experimental - dough and filling could be in any flavors, basically anything you can think of under the sun. In my case I developed Chocolate Dosas with Creme Patissiere.

T who came for dinner for a couple of days in a row loved this dessert. After it was served for the first time, the following day he called and said he missed the dessert for that entire day and asked whether he could have it again, so I invited him for another dinner and again, sweet Dosas were served abundantly. He was totally pleased (Did I just again prove that the way to the man's heart is through his stomach?)

Like the sweet Dosas on my serving plate, T has become increasingly sweet that made me feel so overwhelmed with gratefulness of what life has given to me at this present moment. Thanks, God!


1. Chocolate Dosas

- Bread flour > 120 grams
- Salt > 1/2 teaspoon
- Cocoa powder > 1.5 teaspoons
- Baking powder >1/2 teaspoon
- Soya milk > 1/2 cup
- Water > 3/4 cup
- Vegetable oil > to brush non-stick skillet

- Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, slowly adding soya milk and water, whisking until smooth.
- Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Pour one drop of vegetable oil onto the paper towel and apply it thinly to the surface of the skillet.

- Ladle 3 tablespoons of batter into the center of your pan in a circular motion until it is a thin, round pancake. When bubbles appear on the surface and it no longer looks wet, flip it over and cook for a few seconds. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining batter. Makes 8 pancakes.

2. Creme Patissiere

Refer to The Swan.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Dream Came True

15 September is my special day! Won my first ever DMBLGIT! The announcement of the August Contest result has been postponed for quite a long while and when it finally came out on that great Tuesday, my heart stopped beating for a split second. My black sesame macaron photo was on the winner’s page! Being so overwhelmed, I had to share it instantly with someone who happened to be there with me: J, my colorist colleague who helped me pick my very first entry to DMBLGIT seven months ago from my post Café Fanatique. Thanks J!

Thanks to DMBLGIT and Andrew of Spittoon Extra, DMBLGIT August's judges: Helen of Food Stories and Douglas of Intoxicating Prose for this pleasant surprise!

DMBLGIT set my photography standard of a dream blog before I even thought about blogging. Dreamt very hard that one day I would hope to win DMBLGIT. Had enjoyed and patronized Bonbini and Tartelette which are both extraordinary blogs. So thanks to Thip of Bonbini and Helen of Tartelette who are great bakers, fantastic food stylists and photographers, and of course DMBLGIT winners and my true source of inspirations! And nevertheless, Vegan Yum Yum was my illumination for practicing sunlight photography and getting my first professional camera. Thanks Lolo!

I like to share my most happiness with Fitri of Rumah Manis who is my great Indonesian fellow blogger. Thanks Fitri for being a good friend even though we never really met! And to Robert Lau of Talk3Talk4 who shared great thoughts and reminded me of my origin, gave my very first post comment and was my first blog follower. Thanks Robert!

Of all these eight months or coming nine months of blogging, I like to express my gratitudes to many bloggers who have been constantly pouring their support and words of encouragement, and inspiring me with their blog contents. And of course, my praise to fellow Daring Bakers and Daring Cooks who live everyday with passion and curiosity. Thank you all!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Daring Cooks' Indian Dosas

It has been one or two weeks of absence, just got to sort out a couple of things that was bothering my mind. It doesn't necessarily mean I stopped cooking, baking, and photographing, I still did.. just that I couldn't find the right moment and spirit, in between working hours, to send another post. And yes, I am fine, just in case if any of you ever wondered about the guy behind the post :-)

Well, eventually after a lot of contemplation and stillness, I was so glad finally the DB Cooks Challenge kicked me out of my comfort zone. So pleased that the Indian charm got me going with Dosas and tried something different altogether, despite the fact that T has in many occasions told me about his dislike for Indian cuisine. Well, it is my challenge right? Afterall, I might just need to take the consequences if I end up having no choice but to finish the whole Dosas by myself.

Ladling the batter in a circular motion on the oil sprayed nonstick pan was the most fun of all. Ended up ladling for 3 recipes since I just couldn't have enough ladling and satisfaction of a perfect circle. It was also because I decided to make the sweet version out of Dosas. Something with rum, raisin, cocoa, and custard. Sweet irresistable Indian dessert that is!! Recipe will be right up soon....

Thanks to Debyi of Healthy Vegan Kitchen for hosting Daring Cooks September 2009 Challenge and sharing this fabulous recipe. It comes in 3 parts, the dosas, the filling and the sauce. It does take awhile to make, but the filling and sauce can be made ahead and frozen if necessary. While best served as a main course with rice and veggies, Dosa is also great as an appetizer.

While this recipe has been adapted to suit my own convenience and local ingredient availability, the original recipe can be found here.

Makes 8 and serves 4 persons

1. Curried Garbanzo Filling

- Garlic > 3 cloves
- Onion - peel and dice > 1/2
- Carrot - peel and dice > 1/2
- Green pepper (or red, yellow or orange) - peel and dice > 1/2
- Medium hot banana chilly - mince > 1
- Ground cumin > 1 tablespoon
- Oregano > 1/2 tablespoon
- Coarse sea salt > 1/2 tablespoon
- Fresh turmeric - mince > 1/2 tablespoon
- Cooked or canned chick peas > 1 can (total 439 grams - strained chickpeas 260 grams plus 100 gram canned chickpeas juice)
- Tomato - cut into big chunks > 1

- Whiz chickpeas and tomato in a food processor until fine.
- Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, and carrots, cooking for 5 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally.
- Add spices and continue cooking for 1 minute more.
- Fold in chick peas paste to the saucepan, stirring until heated through.
- Set aside.

2. Dosa Curry Sauce

- Garlic > 1 clove
- Onion - peel and chop > 1/2
- Ground cumin > 1/4 teaspoon
- Coarse sea salt > 1/2 teaspoon
- Curry powder > 1.5 tablespoons
- All purpose flour > 1.5 tablespoons
- Vegetable broth > 1.5 cups
- Coconut milk > 1 cup
- Tomatoes - dice > 2

- Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, cooking for 5 minutes, or until soft.
- Add the spices, cooking for 1 minutes more. Add flour and cook for 1 additional minute.
- Gradually stir in the vegetable broth to prevent lumps.
- Add coconut milk and tomatoes, stirring occasionally.
- Let it simmer for half an hour.

3. Dosa Pancakes

- All purpose flour > 120 grams
- Salt > 1/2 teaspoon
- Baking powder >1/2 teaspoon
- Curry powder > 1/2 teaspoon
- Soya milk > 1/2 cup
- Water > 3/4 cup
- Vegetable oil > to brush non-stick skillet

- Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, slowly adding soya milk and water, whisking until smooth.
- Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Pour one drop of vegetable oil onto the paper towel and apply it thinly to the surface of the skillet.

- Ladle 3 tablespoons of batter into the center of your pan in a circular motion until it is a thin, round pancake. When bubbles appear on the surface and it no longer looks wet, flip it over and cook for a few seconds. Remove from heat and repeat with remaining batter. Makes 8 pancakes.

4. Assembly

- Grated coconut > 100 grams
- Cucumber - slice > 1

- Stuff curried garbanzo filling in the dosa pancakes.
- Top with coconut curry sauce and grated coconut. Garnish cucumber slices at the side.
- Serve.