The name vol-au-vent in French means something like "fly with the wind" which apparently alludes to their light and airy nature. They are actually relatively easy to make out of puff pastry, but as I described here, I decided to make it a rather lengthy process and make my own puff pastry from scratch!
To make the pastry cases, I rolled out some of the puff pastry I had made earlier and took two pastry cutters - one larger than the other, as you can see at the bottom of this photo below.
I cut two squares the same size, and used the smaller cutter to cut out the centre of one; the centre piece was to form the lid and the edging section that was left was placed on top of the larger pastry square. The idea is that when these rise, this creates the sides of the vol-au-vent and means that a gap is left in the middle to be filled.
At least that was the plan - the top section didn't rise as much as I'd hoped so there wasn't much of a gap in the middle to fill. When the vol-au-vents are still warm you can press down in the centre to help make more of a hollow.
I decided to make a few more, this time folding the pastry over to make a double thickness when I cut out the top section. The pastry is very stretchy though, so by the time I'd taken it off the cutter and placed it on top of the first pastry square, it got out of shape a bit!
I was quite pleased though that my homemade puff pastry had the same sort of stretchy quality as when I've bought it ready made.
This time it rose slightly better, though I cooked them a little longer than the last batch as well so they came out darker.
I decided to make these as a main course for dinner with my boyfriend, but couldn't decide what to put in them as he's quite fussy. I ended up buying a tub of chicken and ham sandwich filler from Tesco, adding a spoonful to each vol-au-vent and warming them through in the oven. He said they were really nice!
I felt like a different flavour combination so cooked some butternut squash and placed a few cubes in teh vol-au-vent, along with some feta cheese. I then drizzled over some balsamic syrup and placed a basil leaf on top. I served these with homemade chips and it made a really nice dinner!
I am sending these in to Ros at TheMoreThanOccasionalBaker who is hosting Alphabakes this month. You still have until the 25th to get your entries in!