Our October 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Suz of Serenely Full. Suz challenged us to not only tackle buttery and flaky puff pastry, but then take it step further and create a sinfully delicious Mille Feuille dessert with it! I was happy to learn that this month’s challenge is Mille-fuille because I’ve never actually made a real puff pastry myself – I only had an experience of making the soc called “quick puff pastry” which does not require laminating the dough a lot. My huscband was also very happy to learn that this month I’m gonna cook a mille-fuille – “napoleon” slice was his favourite dessert from the childhood! We even argued a bit because of it: I wanted to go creative with this challenge and he wanted to have a classic version of the cake!
We reached a compromise: I made a classic French mille-fuilee instead of making traditional Russian Napoleon. For those who do not know the difference, let me explain: in Russia the slice is made with lots of thin layers of puff pastry and cream (which is usually not cream patisserie but more like a buttercream – a combination of butter and condensed milk) and is covered with crushed pieces of puff pastry (no icing – never!); the cake is left overnight in the fridge so that it becomes soft. Well, you see, that is what my husband always loved – and I wanted him to taste an original mille-fuille, French-style! So Ive made a custard-based cream and three layers of puff pastry and even an icing with strips of chocolate!
One week later, however, I felt like doing something more. I remembered “Milena” – a beautiful slice by Pierre Herme consisting of raspberry jelly, dacquiouse biscuit, mint mousse and two layers of puff pastry. Taking it as an inspiration I decided to cook something similar – an idea of blueberry and lime ice cream mille-fuille came up!
Was it better than French millefuille or Russian napoleon? It was - just because it was different and it had more complicated textures and flavours: crispiness of puff pastry and softness of a sponge, sweetness of ice cream and sourness of jelly, zing of lime and freshness of blueberries.
Don't you like a fresh touch on a traditional dish?
250 gm plain flour
50 gm unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
1 tsp salt
150 ml cold water
200 gm butter, room temperature
30 gm plain flour
Additional flour for rolling/turning
Lime Ice Cream
600 ml heavy cream
400 gm condensed milk
40 ml Cointreau
Zest of 3 limes
75 gm castor sugar
80 gm flour
Zest of 1 lime
150 ml lime juice
150 gm castor sugar
320 gm blueberry puree
50 gm sugar
5 gelatin leaves
1. For puff pastry cut the larger quantity of butter into smallish pieces and set aside at room temperature. Put the larger quantity of flour into a bowl with the salt and the cold, cubed butter. Lightly rub the butter and flour between your fingertips until it forms a mealy breadcrumb texture. Add the cold water and bring together with a fork or spoon until the mixture starts to cohere and come away from the sides of the bowl. As the dough begins to come together, you can use your hands to start kneading and incorporating all the remaining loose bits. If the dough’s a little dry, you can add a touch more water. Knead for three minutes on a floured surface until the dough is smooth. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
2. While the dough is chilling, make beurrage: take your room temperature butter and mix with the smaller amount of plain flour until it forms a paste. Place the butter paste between two sheets of clingfilm, and either with a rolling pin or your hands shape it into 12cm square. Refrigerate for about 10-15 minutes so the butter firms up slightly.
3. Once the dough has chilled, roll it out on a floured surface into a 15cm square. Place the square of butter in the middle, with each corner touching the centre of the square’s sides. Fold each corner of dough over the butter so they meet the centre and it resembles an envelope, and seal up the edges with your fingers. You’ll be left with a little square parcel. Turn the dough parcel over and tap the length of it with your rolling pan to flatten it slightly.
4. Keeping the work surface well floured, roll the dough carefully into a rectangle 6 mm in thickness. With the longest side facing you, fold one third (on the right) inwards, so it’s covering the middle section, and ensure that it is lined up. Then, fold the remaining flap of dough (on the left) inwards, so you’re left with a narrow three-layered strip.
5. Repeat the previous step. Wrap up in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes. Repeat step 4 twice. Wrap up in clingfilm and chill again for at least 30 minutes. Repeat step 4 two final times. Wrap up in clingfilm and refrigerate until needed.
6. Preheat the oven to 220 C. Line and grease a baking tray. Roll you puff pastry till 6 mm thick. Use a 6 cm cutter to cut 12 rounds. Place them on a prepared tray and prick them all over with a fork. Place another sheet of greaseproof paper over the top and then a heavy baking tray. Bake for about 25 minutes removing the top layer of greaseproof paper 10 minutes before the end for the tops to brown. Remove the baked rounds from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool.
7. For lime ice cream line a a 20x30 cm tin with a foil. Whip the cream, gradually add the condensed milk and Cointreau. Stir in the lime zest and pour the mixture into a prepared tin. Put in the freezer till it sets. Use a 6cm cutter to cut 12 rounds. Keep them in the freezer till needed.
8. For lime sponge, preheat the oven to 180C. Line and grease 26-cm round cake tin. Place eggs with sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat till pale and creamy (start at low speed and gradually increase it); stir in the lime zest. Sift flour over the egg mixture and fold it with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into a prepared tin and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and quite firm to touch. Allow to cool completely, them use a 6 cm cutter to cut 12 rounds.
9. For soaking syrup combine lime juice and castor sugar in a small pan. Bring to boil over medium heat, decrease the heat and let it simmer for a few minutes.
10. For blueberry jelly, line a 20x15 cm tin with a foil. Soak the gelatine in small amount of cold water. Reserve a few tablespoons of blueberry puree for decoration. Put the rest of puree in a saucepan with sugar and stir over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, remove from heat and stir in the gelatine and any soaking liquid. Pour in six small demisphere flexipan moulds and in the prepared tin and put in the refrigerator until set. Use a 6 cm cutter to cut 6 rounds out of the jelly from the tin. Keep them in the fridge.
11. To assemble the mille-fuille put a round of puff pastry on a plate, top it with lime ice cream, a sponge soaked in the syrup and a round of blueberry jelly. Repeat the layers in reverse order starting with the sponge and finishing with puff pastry. Dust with icing sugar and decorate with a piece of blueberry jelly from the mould. Serve with the reserved blueberry puree.
If you want to have a look at a traditional millefuille that I made initially, here it is: