Napoleons

End of the month = Daring Bakers post! 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! Most people went for Napoleons with the provided recipe, which made puff pastry surprisingly easy, if a bit time consuming.

Ingredients:

Puff Pastry:

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • scant 1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 14 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Pastry Cream:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks (reserve two egg whites for below)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Topping:

  • 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 large egg whites (from above)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate

To make the dough, first cut the salted butter into cubes and set aside to come to room temperature.

Combine the larger amount of flour with the salt, and cut in the unsalted butter until only tiny pieces remain.

Add the cold water and stir together until the dough starts to hold together, then knead until smooth. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1/2 an hour.

Meanwhile, mix together the salted butter and smaller amount of flour, then shape into a 4.5″ square. Wrap in saran wrap and chill about 15 minutes until solid but workable.

Using the grid lines on the baking mat underneath the wrap.

Tapped the edges into shape once it was wrapped up.

Roll out the dough into a 6″ square, and put the butter on it like a diamond, with each point in the center of a side of the dough square.

Fold in the dough corners, stretching gently as needed to get the pieces to meet up in the center.

Turn the square seam-side down and roll out into a rectangle 1/4″ thick.

Fold into thirds and roll in the other direction, again until 1/4″ thick. Fold into thirds again, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least half an hour.

Repeat rolling out into 1/4″ thick and folding into thirds two times, then rewrap and refrigerate a second half hour.

Roll out and fold a further two times, then rewrap and refrigerate a final time, until needed. The dough can be kept in the fridge up to two days.

To prepare the pastry cream, first stir the cornstarch into 1/2 cup of the milk until dissolved.

Exciting, right?

Heat the remaining milk and the sugar in a pot over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the milk boils, then remove from the heat.

Beat the eggs into the cornstarch mixture, followed by the egg yolks.

Drizzle 1/3 of the hot milk into the cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly while you do.

Pour the cornstarch mixture in with the remaining hot milk and place on the stove, whisking constantly. The recipe I followed said to bring it back to a boil until it thickens, but I think cooking over low heat until thickened would have been better. I brought mine to a boil, it seemed to thicken a bit, and I took it straight off the heat as I was afraid the egg would cook, and in the end mine didn’t thicken up well. Cooking over low heat will give you a chance to thicken more thoroughly without fear of scrambled eggs.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and beat in the butter and vanilla until fully incorporated.

Cover with saran wrap, pressing it down onto the surface of the mixture to prevent air getting to it, which would cause a gross skin to form. Refrigerate overnight.

To make the Napoleon, first preheat the oven to 400. Roll out the dough to a 12X18″ rectangle and prick all over with a fork.

Cut into 3 even pieces, and transfer to parchment lined baking sheets.

Cover the dough with another piece of parchment, then put another baking sheet on top of the dough to weight it down. Do this in batches if you don’t have enough pans to make it all work at once.

From the bottom up, that’s the pan with 2 pieces, the pan with 1 piece, an empty pan, and a glass dish for a little bit of extra weight.

Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the top pan and parchment.

Bake a further 10 minutes, until browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Cover one piece of the pastry with half the pastry cream, top with a second piece, cover with the remaining cream, and top with the last piece of pastry. Refrigerate while you make the topping.

This should look thicker, but like I said, my pastry cream didn’t thicken well, so half of it ran out the sides.

Melt the chocolate and transfer to a piping bag or plastic bag that you’ll cut the corner off of.

Whisk together the egg whites and lemon juice until frothy.

Stir in the powdered sugar, adding enough that drizzles of the frosting will stay defined for several seconds when dripped back in the bowl.

Take the pastry back out of the fridge, and quickly spread the icing over the top. Still working quickly, draw thin lines of chocolate the length of the pastry. I didn’t end up using even half the chocolate, I don’t think. Using a sharp knife, draw lines up and down through the icing and chocolate, creating a pattern.

The kind of mess I like!

Refrigerate several more hours to set, then cut into slices with a sharp knife and serve. Best eaten day of, but it’ll keep another day or two.

The pastry’s flaky, the pastry cream tastes great… just need to cook it over low heat next time and these will be the perfect Napoleons!

Napoleons

Puff Pastry:

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • scant 1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 14 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Pastry Cream:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks (reserve two egg whites for below)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Topping:

  • 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 large egg whites (from above)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate

To make the dough, first cut the salted butter into cubes and set aside to come to room temperature.

Combine the larger amount of flour with the salt, and cut in the unsalted butter until only tiny pieces remain. Add the cold water and stir together until the dough starts to hold together, then knead until smooth. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1/2 an hour.

Meanwhile, mix together the salted butter and smaller amount of flour, then shape into a 4.5″ square. Wrap in saran wrap and chill about 15 minutes until solid but workable.

Roll out the dough into a 6″ square, and put the butter on it like a diamond, with each point in the center of a side of the dough square. Fold in the dough corners, stretching gently as needed to get the pieces to meet up in the center.

Turn the square seam-side down and roll out into a rectangle 1/4″ thick. Fold into thirds and roll in the other direction, again until 1/4″ thick. Fold into thirds again, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least half an hour.

Repeat rolling out into 1/4″ thick and folding into thirds two times, then rewrap and refrigerate a second half hour.

Roll out and fold a further two times, then rewrap and refrigerate a final time, until needed. The dough can be kept in the fridge up to two days.

To prepare the pastry cream, first stir the cornstarch into 1/2 cup of the milk until dissolved.

Heat the remaining milk and the sugar in a pot over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the milk boils, then remove from the heat.

Beat the eggs into the cornstarch mixture, followed by the egg yolks. Drizzle 1/3 of the hot milk into the cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly while you do. Pour the cornstarch mixture in with the remaining hot milk and place on the stove, whisking constantly. Cook over low heat until mixture coats the back of a spoon.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and beat in the butter and vanilla until fully incorporated. Cover with saran wrap, pressing it down onto the surface. Refrigerate overnight.

To make the Napoleon, first preheat the oven to 400. Roll out the dough to a 12X18″ rectangle and prick all over with a fork. Cut into 3 even pieces, and transfer to parchment lined baking sheets. Cover the dough with another piece of parchment, then put another baking sheet on top of the dough to weight it down. Do this in batches if you don’t have enough pans to make it all work at once.

Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the top pan and parchment.Bake a further 10 minutes, until browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Cover one piece of the cooled pastry with half the pastry cream, top with a second piece, cover with the remaining cream, and top with the last piece of pastry. Refrigerate while you make the topping.

Melt the chocolate and transfer to a piping bag or plastic bag that you’ll cut the corner off of.

Whisk together the egg whites and lemon juice until frothy. Stir in the powdered sugar, adding enough that drizzles of the frosting will stay defined for several seconds when dripped back in the bowl.

Take the pastry back out of the fridge, and quickly spread the icing over the top. Still working quickly, draw thin lines of chocolate the length of the pastry.  Using a sharp knife, draw lines up and down through the icing and chocolate, creating a pattern.

Refrigerate several more hours to set, then cut into slices with a sharp knife and serve. Best eaten day of, but it’ll keep another day or two.

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About sparecake

My name's Corinne, and I like cake, cookies, and chocolate! Also, non-c-things such as ponies, Star Trek, and biking. I write a food blog and a blog about life, wide open spaces, and museum work. Nice to meet you!
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