The Deep End

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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.

I kept seeing blogs that would talk about The Daring Kitchen, and how awesome it was, and how I needed to get my little cooking bum over there and join. So I “applied” in August, and I was a member in time for the September challenge. On the day the challenge was to be posted, I excitedly logged on to the forums.

And then my jaw dropped, because the very first challenge for little old me was to make puff pastry. Oh, you silly fate.

One of my friends went to pastry school and was formerly a pastry chef. When I asked about the pastry, she said, “Don’t do it.”

Not great for my confidence, but I steeled my nerves and took advantage of an empty house to work on the challenge. For those who don’t know, you make puff pastry by folding butter inside dough, and rolling and folding and rolling and folding until you have many many layers of butter-dough goodness.

Like so:

Being in Texas means it was warm in my kitchen – not ideal for puff pastry, so I had to keep throwing my dough in the fridge and I was almost weepy about how my butter kept oozing out. But I continued on, and in the end I amazed myself with some wonderful results.

Vols au vent

I knew right away that I wanted to fill my vol au vents with a cinnamon-basil mousse and a basil ricotta with tomato topping. Both were excellent in the puff pastry, even though my mousse wasn’t quite right. I hope to make it again and fix the problems so I can post the recipe, because it really did taste wonderful.

Vols au vent

Vols au vent

I’m looking forward to the next challenge!

To see more photos and the recipe we used, go here.


  1. Wow! Great work, love the photos, and welcome to the Daring Kitchen! I wish I knew like you what I wanted my fillings to be right away… I agonized over the decision all month.

  2. Those look great! Very flaky pastry from a not-so-ideal environment. This month was my first challenge and I had so much fun with it. Can’t wait for October!

  3. the photo of the dough with the butter layers is awesome! yours turned out great too! I am also in TX and had to keep returning to the fridge, barely getting in 1 turn at a time. Yum!

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