Puff pastry perfection: Irresistible raspberry millefeuilles
Vanessa Greenwood: Construct as many layers of pastry, cream and berries as you dare
Raspberry millefeuilles. Photograph: Harry Weir
What could be more delicious, and satisfying, than a thousand layers of gorgeous buttery puff pastry that has been made by hand?
Puff pastry can be tricky to make, with lots of steps that must be followed. A cold kitchen is essential to ensure the fat is incorporated into the flour dough. A hot oven then creates steam that causes the pastry layers to rise.
Once you master flaky puff pastry there is nothing more deliciously satisfying. You’ll be sure to impress everyone. Puff pastry is so versatile, it’s worth making a large batch. Freeze it in portions, so you have it to hand for lots of sweet and savoury creations.
Strawberries and raspberries both make wonderfully attractive centres. Construct as many layers of alternating pastry, cream and berries as you dare!
For the puff pastry (makes 600g, so freeze the remainder)
225g strong white flour
225g unsalted butter, chilled
100ml-110ml ice-cold water
½tsp lemon juice
For the orange vanilla cream
80g icing sugar, sieved
½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
Zest of 1 orange
Icing sugar, toasted flaked almonds
To make puff pastry, first set aside 25g of butter and cut it into small dice.
Sieve the flour and salt together. Rub in the 25g of butter. Make a well in the centre. Add the cold water and lemon juice, bring the mixture together and knead it firmly for one minute to bind it to a smooth doughy texture. Wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place the remaining 200g butter between two sheets of cling film and bash it with a rolling pin to give it a pliable consistency (this is important since if the butter is too soft, it will melt and ooze out, if it is too hard it will break through the paste when being rolled out). Roll it into a square shape.
Roll the chilled dough out thinly on to a well-floured work surface into a rectangle 30cm in length and wider than the flattened slab of butter (straighten the edges as you roll, so the pastry rises evenly). Remove the wrapping from the butter and place it across the middle. Fold the dough over the butter from the sides and from both the top and bottom ends so that the butter is fully enclosed in a square shaped parcel.
Keeping the surface well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a long thin oblong, then fold the bottom end up towards the middle and the top third folded over it, to form three layers. Give the dough a clockwise half turn so the fold is positioned on the left. Repeat the rolling and folding process a second time, then wrap and chill for a further 15 minutes. Chill the pastry after each set of two rolls and folds. Continue rolling and folding this way until the pastry has had six turns in all and no longer appears streaked with butter. If it does, roll it out another time.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Cut the pastry in half. Roll out one half of the puff pastry to a thickness of 3mm and cut approx 12 even strips (approx 13cm x 4cm). Freeze the remaining dough for use another time, or cut more strips.
Place the strips of pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 10 minutes, or until the pastry is risen and golden. Remove from the oven, and transfer the baked pastries on to a wire rack to cool.
For the orange vanilla cream, whip the cream and sugar together, then fold in the vanilla seeds and orange zest.
Reserve six of the best strips for the tops and set them aside. Use a piping bag filled with vanilla cream to pipe a thin line of cream down the centre of the remaining pastry strips. Alternate raspberries and beads of cream along the sides. Lay the second strip on top (using the flatter side as the top, if you prefer).
To serve, dust with icing sugar, scatter with flaked almonds. Serve immediately.