one year ago: B’s VERY famous gooey butter cake
i’m not gonna lie…as far as i know, i have no french roots….and i really can’t give you a detailed account of what Bastille Day actually is (just a general one that usually ends with a question mark inflection). BUT…what i do know…is that it’s NEVER bad to have an excuse to eat french pastries….so Happy Bastille Day it is!
i decided to merge a couple existing recipes together to whip up these napoleons. if you’re a follower…you remember the toil and trouble that came with learning how to make puff pastry. it’s not difficult….it’s just specific….and takes patience, time and cold temperatures. (the latter being laughable considering the current dallas heat wave we’re in the middle of….but i went for it anyways)
someday i promise i’ll document the puff pastry process in photos…cause it’s a little hard to imagine without diagrams. (diagrams?! oh man….i’m sure i have lost half of you by now) but all of the trouble aside, one batch of puff pasty goes a long way…and you can freeze it for up to a year. it can make a sweet treat, or a savory side dish
5 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water
2 cups butter
whisk together your flour and salt. add in water. stir until dough has formed. dough will be a tiny bit on the lumpy side. set aside and let her rest for about 20 minutes.
roll out into a rectangle 1/2 inch thick.
cut up (chilled) butter into squares and put them ALL over the top of the dough, leaving about a 1/2 inch butter-free around the edges of the rectangle. (the butter needs to be chilled….but it’s a fine line…too warm and your dough will absorb it…too cold and it will break through your dough. my handy-dandy pie and pastry bible noted that 60 degrees F is the perfect temperature for your butter…if you want to be that technical….i just guessed it, myself)
after the top of your dough is covered in butter squares, fold it in thirds (like you would a business letter) and roll out again to about 1/2″ thickness. be careful to not let the butter break through the dough or out the sides.
(first fold) turn the dough 90 degrees and roll out again into a rectangle and fold again into thirds. (second fold) it’s important to keep your dough chilled, so between every two folds refrigerate for 30 minutes, covered.
you will repeat this process of rolling out and folding two more times…refrigerating between every two folds until you have folded the dough 6 times. once finished, wrap and refrigerate.
stabilized whipped cream
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 cup heavy whipping cream (divided)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
(note: i ended up making two batches of this cream, when i probably only needed one…maaaaybeee one and a half?!….however, there’s nothing wrong with left over homemade whipped cream. i’m sure your coffee will agree)
begin by putting your mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
in a small sauce pan, over low heat, combine powdered sugar, cornstarch and 1 /2 cup whipping cream. whisk together till well blended. bump your heat up to medium and continue whisking till ingredients begin to thicken up and come to a rolling boil. immediately remove from heat and transfer to glass bowl to cool to room temperature – i usually just transfer it back to my liquid measuring cup as you will have to pour it out later on. once mixture is cooled, stir in vanilla and set aside. (if you’re making all parts of your napoleon at once, you might want to start with this step, since it will take a while to cool down. it wont take too long for your whipping cream to whip up, so keep in mind that this mixture needs to be cooled before you start with the next step.)
using your chilled mixer bowl and beaters or whisk attachment, beat the remaining 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream at a high speed till you begin to see distinct lines forming in the cream. with the beaters still going at high speed, pour in your cooled, sugar/cream/vanilla mixture. the next part happens pretty quickly, so pay attention. continue beating this mixture till it forms stiff peaks, being careful not to over-beat.
to make napoleons:
preheat your oven to 425°.
remove dough from fridge and cut off a fourth. roll out your dough into a rectangle – about 6″ x 16″ and 1/8 of an inch thick, focusing more on the thickness than the length. once rolled out, prick all over with a fork. sprinkle a cookie sheet with water, shaking off the excess and transfer your dough to the cookie sheet. bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes – dough will be puffed up and golden. transfer to cooling rack. i actually put mine in the fridge to cool which helped when it came time to cut the pastry.
once cooled, gingerly cut your puffed rectangle into three long strips. (it helps to use a wet serrated knife) then cut each strip through the middle leaving you with six strips – three tops, three bottoms. i went ahead and cut mine down to napoleon single serving sizes from there. on the bottom layer slap on some cream and berries (i picked strawberries) or chocolate shavings/sauce?! – whatever you love the most. add the top layer and sprinkle with confectioners sugar. go ahead and add another dollop of whipped cream for good measure, and some more berries while you’re at it. serve immediately – or chill until ready.
it might seem like quite the ordeal from start to finish….but the good news is….once you make a batch of puff pastry….you will have plenty to experiment with. be it cream horns, croissants, or napoleons….there will be enough to go around. AND you will feel oh so accomplished and fancy making anything french!