Saturday 16 June 2012

Vol-au-vents with homemade puff pastry

When I was thinking about ideas for this month's Alphabakes beginning with V, I remembered something I used to love as a child, and haven't come across for years - vol-au-vents! These little pastry cases tended to be eaten in my family around Christmas and I liked them best filled with prawns and seafood sauce. But you can have them with pretty much any filling, savoury or apparently even sweet.

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!


  1. I love that you went to do much trouble with the homemade pastry and the double layers and then your boyfriend is so fussy! I also love the retro feel of these vol au vents. Mine would have prawn cocktail in them!!

    1. He really liked the vol au vents, I just had to think carefully about what filling he would like! I was actually going to do prawn cocktail myself but had the prawns in a baked potato for lunch that same day.. then in the evening remembered *that* was why I had bought the prawns! Oh well - the feta and butternut squash combination was lovely.

  2. Well done on making your own puff pastry. I toyed with the idea of vol-au-vents too we used to have them with curried chicken in them at parties in the 70s! In the end I decided against it.

  3. Great entry for AlphaBakes! I am impressed that you made your own puff pastry, something I've never done before. I'm glad your boyfriend enjoyed these - I know how fussy he can be with food (yes, yes pot kettle black I know :))

  4. I am seriously impressed! I know what a labor of love homemade puff pastry is - these are wonderful - congrats!
    mary x


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