Puff Pastry – Julia Child & Michel Richard

Michel Richard accompanied by Julia Child introduce the proper way to make puff pastry that can be used in hundreds of baked delights.  In this video you will learn how to bake using two popular recipes.  One that is a more herb and vegetable based pastry called Tourte Milanese.  The other, which is a much sweeter and fruit oriented recipe, called Apricot Pastries.  Michel and Julia take a step by step approach by first explaining the process in which puff pastry is properly made.  They then expand on how to use puff pastry in recipes.

Be prepared:  Creating the pastry does take a good amount of time.  The pastry is going to need to be cooled so that it solidifies.  So if you plan on making a recipe with a homemade pastry, it is crucial that you remember to make it beforehand to avoid running out of time to make your treat.

Puff Pastry – Michel Richard

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups ice water
  • 4 sticks (1 pound) very cold unsalted butter

Makes 2 1/2 pounds of dough

Mixing the Dough: Put all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse just to mix. Add water all at once, pulsing until dough forms a ball on the blade. Remove dough from machine, form into a ball, and slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern, with a small sharp knife. Wrap dough in a damp towel and refrigerate 5 minutes.

Incorporating the Butter: Place butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat with a rolling pin until it flattens into a 1 inch thick square. Unwrap the chilled dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour. Roll into a 10-inch square. 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 ears over butter, stretching as needed so they overlap slightly and encase butter completely. It should be about 8 inches square.

Making the Turns: Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square. Then, keeping the work surface and dough well floured, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24 inches. (Don’t worry about the width of the rectangle; if you get the 24 inches, 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. 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 inches and then folding 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. 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.

Tourte Milanese – Michel Richard

For the Eggs

  • 10 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh tarragon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Filling

  • 6 large red bell peppers
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds spinach, trimmed and washed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
  • 8 ounces Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces smoked ham, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Preparing the Pastry: Generously butter an 8 1/2-inch springform pan. Cut off one quarter of the pastry, cover, and set aside. Roll out remaining puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick round. Carefully fit the pastry into the pan, pressing to get a smooth fit, leave a 1-inch overhang.

Roll out the smaller piece of pastry until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut out an 8-inch circle of dough for the top of the tourte and lift it onto a plate or baking sheet. Cover both the crust and the lid with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

Making the Eggs: Whisk eggs, herbs, salt and pepper together. Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat and pour in the eggs. Gently but constantly stir the eggs around in the pan, pulling the eggs that set into the center of the pan. Slide the eggs onto a plate, without mounding them, and cover immediately with plastic wrap.

The Fillings:
To roast the peppers: place whole and untrimmed, directly over the flame of a gas burner. As soon as one portion of a peppers skin is charred, turn the pepper. When black and blistered all over, drop into a bowl of cool water, and use your fingers to rub off skin. Cut each pepper once from top to bottom, cut away the stem, open the peppers, and lay them flat. Trim away the inside veins and discard the seeds; season peppers with salt and pepper and set aside, covered, until needed.

Cook the spinach in a large quantity of boiling salted water for 1 minute to blanch it. Drain spinach in a colander, rinse with cold water, and press it to extract all of the excess moisture. Heat the oil, butter, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Add blanched spinach and sauté for 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and add a little heavy cream. Bring quickly to the boil and stir so it mixes with the spinach. Remove the spinach from the skillet with a slotted and set aside.

Assembling the Tourte: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the pastry-lined springform pan from the refrigerator and layer the filling ingredients in the following order: half the eggs, half the spinach, half the cheese, half the ham, and all the roasted peppers, laid flat. Continue layering in reverse order – ham, cheese, spinach, and eggs. With each layer, make certain that the ingredients are spread to the edge of the pan. Fold the excess crust in over the filling, and brush the rim of crust you’ve created with the egg wash. Center the rolled-out top crust over the tourte and gently push the edge of the top crust down into the pan, pressing and sealing the top and bottom crusts along the sides. Brush the top with the egg wash and cut a vent in the center of the crust. Use the point of the knife to etch a design in the top crust, taking care to cut only halfway into the dough. Chill the fully loaded tourte for 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking.

Baking the Tourte: Place the tourte on a jelly-roll pan, give it another coat of egg wash, and bake it for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until puffed and deeply golden. Remove from the oven and let rest on a rack until it reaches room temperature. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan and release the sides.

Sunny-Side-Up Apricot Pastries – Michel Richard

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 8 apricots, halved and pitted
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 recipe Puff Pastry or 1 1/4 pounds store-bought puff pastry
  • 2 cups (approximately) sugar
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam
  • 2 teaspoons water

Makes 8 pastries

Poaching the apricots: In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 2 cups water, 1 cup sugar, and lemon juice to a boil. Add the apricots and simmer for 8 minutes. Take pan off the heat and let apricots cool in the liquid. Drain and pat apricots dry before using.

The Pastry Cream: Put the milk, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, egg yolks, and cornstarch in a 2-quart saucepan. Split vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape seeds into pan, and toss in the pod. Stir with wire whisk, bring to the boil, whisking constantly, and let the pastry cream boil for one minute. Remove from heat, scrape pastry cream into a strainer set over a bowl. Push the cream through the strainer and discard the vanilla bean. Cover with plastic wrap and a layer of ice cubes. Leave ice cubes in place until the cream cools.

The Pastry: Preheat oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry to 1/4 inch thickness. Flour the edges of a 4-inch round cookie cutter and cut 8 rounds from the dough. Clean the work surface and sprinkle it generously with sugar. While you work on one round, keep the others covered with plastic wrap. Place a pastry round on the sugar and dust the top lightly with flour. Roll until it elongates to an 8-inch oval. Brush flour off the top and put the oval on an unbuttered baking sheet, sugar side up. Repeat with the remaining pieces, leaving just a little room between each pastry on the baking sheet.

Baking the Pastries: Spoon a walnut-sized dollop of pastry cream onto the center of each oval and set 2 apricot halves side by side on the cream to resemble sunny-side-up eggs. Bake about 35 minutes, until golden and beautifully puffed. While the pastries are baking, heat apricot jam and water just to the boil. Remove from heat and push through a strainer; keep warm until ready to use. As soon as the pastries are baked, transfer them to a cooling rack. Brush apricot glaze all over them, and let cool a bit before serving.

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