How can we travel through French cuisine without mentioning this fascinating dough that is puff pastry?Up until our grandmothers’ generation, making puff pastry was an essential baking skill.Nowadays, with all the available pre-made puff pastries that can be found in supermarkets, making your own puff pastry is often considered to be the realm of the domestic goddess.

When I first started cooking (when I was young and beautiful ;-), mastering the technique of puff pastry was like an mandatory rite of passage for going from simple cook to expert. Making this delicate dough used to take me at least half a day and sometimes more, with I admit, an obvious anxiety when facing this long and laborious process of turning and resting.

And then one day, I just stopped! The ready-to-roll dough has made it to my refrigerator and it saved a lot of family dinners after a hard day’s work. Whether for savory or sweet baking preparations, the pastry shop at my street corner has been my go-to place for fresh and delicious raw puff pastry.
Millefeuille is a French pastry prepared with 3 layers of puff pastry and 2 layers of pastry cream, and that is covered with icing sugar or fondant.
For puff pastry
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup dry butter or margarine , or 1 cup prepared butter (⅔ cup butter + ⅓ cup flour)
  • ½ cup sugar (for the caramelization of dough when baking)
  • A little extra water and flour to adjust if needed and to roll the dough

Equipment needed
  • 1 dough cutter
  • 1 rolling pin
  • 1 brush
  • 1 small kitchen knife

For pastry cream (custard)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla bean , split in half
  • 1 pinch salt
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 knob butter
  • 1 Tbsp rum optional

For marbling
  • 2 oz. dark chocolate (70% of higher)
  • 10 oz. white fondant
  • 2 Tbsp apricot jam or honey

Puff pastry
  1. Place the flour on a work surface and make a well in the center.
  2. Pour the water in the center and add the salt. With your fingertips, incorporate the flour via a delicate and circular movement. When the mixture has a smooth consistency while remaining liquid, bring the flour with the dough cutter back to the center. The flour will absorb the remaining liquid.
  3. Bring everything back with the dough cutter by cutting through the dough and starting again until everything is incorporated. The dough cutter will allow mixing without developing the gluten, heating the dough or making it elastic.
  4. The détrempe is soft, sticky and has no body. To the touch, it is cold which shows that it has not undergone kneading, therefore the development of gluten and elasticity is limited. Form a cross or a four-pointed star with the détrempe and keep a bump in the center.
  5. Roll each branch of the cross with the rolling pin and place the dry butter on the center bump. The détrempe and the dry butter should have more or less the same consistency.
  6. Fold each branch carefully one by one to wrap the fat. Before folding the last branch, close lightly with the rolling pin to ensure a proper sealing.
  7. Stretch the last branch so that the dough is completely wrapped (top and sides).
  8. Spread the fat inside the dough by gently and regularly tapping with the rolling pin. The fat must be distributed evenly without breaking the dough.
  9. It is essential to form the first dough well. Continue patting with the rolling pin. Little by little, the dough will take shape. This will prevent the butter from permeating the détrempe and avoid an uneven lamination.
  10. Roll without forcing especially the first 2 turns. The dough is still fragile and must not tear.
  11. Flour lightly and remove excess flour with the brush.
  12. Do not force as the butter might pierce the thin layer of détrempe. The first turns are short.
  13. Fold one end of the bottom onto itself and remove excess flour from the brush.
  14. Fold the other end over the first two. It has therefore been folded into 3 equal parts.
  15. Make sure that the 3 layers are in front of you and weld them by pressing lightly with the rolling pin on each end. The first turn is over. Roll again to start the second round. Do 6 turns total.
  16. Wrap with a plastic wrap and cool for 2 hours.
Pastry cream
  1. Bring the milk and vanilla bean to a boil.
  2. Blanch the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl.
  3. Once the sugar and egg yolk mixture is well beaten, add the flour and cornstarch together gradually with a whisk. The mixture should be homogeneous and smooth.
  4. Add half the milk and whisk gently. The mixture should be smooth and without too many bubbles.
  5. Pour the mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and simmer on low heat while whisking. When the cream is thickened, stop cooking.
  6. Dab the surface of the cream with a knob of butter to avoid the formation of a "skin" while cooling.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours.
Baking of puff pastry
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Roll the puff pastry finely.
  3. Trim the edges and moisten with water using a brush. Poke with a fork and sprinkle with caster sugar over the entire surface of the dough.
  4. Place the dough on a baking sheet and place a rack on top to slow down the rise. Bake.
  5. As soon as a golden color appears (about 10 minutes), remove the dough from the oven. Turn the dough over, moisten and sprinkle with sugar again.
  6. Put the rack back on top and bake again for a few minutes until drying and light coloration.
  7. Cut the baked crisp dough into 3 equal pieces.
  8. Place the first piece on a work surface. Spread the cream using a spatula or a pastry bag.
  9. Place the second piece of puff pastry over the cream and repeat the procedure. Finish by placing the last piece of puff pastry on top.
  10. Fill any gaps with the pastry bag and smooth out with a spatula.
  11. Fondant and chocolate garnishing
  12. Pour the white fondant into a pan. Heat and keep it warm in a bain-marie at a temperature between 98 and 102 F.
  13. Melt the chocolate and keep it, also in a bain marie.
  14. Heat the apricot jam or honey in the microwave for a few seconds.
  15. Brush the top of the millefeuille with warm jam or honey to allow the fondant to stick well.
  16. Gently pour the fondant onto the center of the surface to be covered. Smooth gently but quickly with a metal spatula.
  17. Prepare a small paper cone (or a freezer bag) and pour the melted chocolate inside.
  18. Using the cone, quickly trace parallel chocolate lines on the fondant, as regularly as possible. Do not allow time for fondant and chocolate to harden before marbling.
  19. Using a small kitchen knife, draw lines on the marbling in one direction and then in the other.
  20. If the fondant and the chocolate are not at the right temperature, the quick hardening will not allow to execute a beautiful marbling.
  21. Place the millefeuille in the fridge for 15 minutes to thoroughly harden the fondant before cutting.
Recipe Notes
Use a bread knife and cut rather quickly so as not to crush the lamination or damage the fondant.
To cut equal parts, use a ruler to measure.



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