I've been on a bit of a baking hiatus over the last few weeks. My thesis was due on the 26th and so I needed to cut out all forms of procrastination. Even so, I still ended up pulling two consecutive all-nighters in the days before it was due, spending every waking moment sitting in front of my computer typing like a mad woman. It was an absolute relief to get that done.
Now that my Masters degree is over, it leaves me with a lot more free time. Not a concept I am yet used to, but I am sure I will soon acquire a taste for it.
The thesis deadline left me with a day to fulfil the Daring Bakers Challenge, so I eagerly set about baking it. My sleep deprivation and general lack of looking after my health for the two weeks prior quickly caught up with me and I fell sick soon after baking this and so I am posting this late. But this dessert was so good it will be worth the wait.
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!
I, admittedly, am usually far too lazy to make my own puff pastry, and so this was the first time I'd made it from scratch. If you've never had home made puff pastry before, let me tell you: you are missing out. This was the most incredible pastry I have ever had in my entire life. I am in love. It was a struggle to not eat it all on the spot. It will be a struggle to eat the packet stuff ever again.
The process is time consuming in that there are multiple steps to letting the pastry rest, but the process itself is very simple.
First you make the dough and the beurrage, or butter block.
You roll out the pastry, put the beurrage on top…
… then fold it into a neat little package.
You then roll them out into a long, thin rectangle.
Fold it into thirds and repeat. And repeat. And repeat.
What results is the most lovely, golden, flaky pastry you will ever consume. This version is so buttery and delicious. It almost tastes like shortbread. We sat there eating the offcuts, musing about how amazing it tasted, trying to wait until assembly before consuiming the rest.
I cut the pastry into rectangles, then assembed with strawberries and chocolate custard.
I dusted the tops with icing sugar and used this skewer technique to make a caramelised lattice.
You can fill it however you want. I did a few with stawberries, and filled the rest with just chocolate custard. Let your favourite filling be your guide.
1 tbsp custard powder
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp dutch processed cocoa powder
55g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 egg, beaten
100g dark chocolate
1¾ cup (250g) plain/all-purpose flour
¼ cup (1¾ oz)(50g) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 teaspoon salt
150 ml cold water
200g (7 oz) butter (for the beurrage), chopped and at room temperature
30g plain flour (for the beurrage)
You'll find the printable version of this recipe here.