The Great British Bake Off is one my favorite shows, inspiring new bakes, new flavors, and new techniques! Join me on my journey to bake through all the Season 13 Challenges.
Since replicating Season 8 of the Great British Bake Off wasn’t enough, I decided to try my hand at a different season! This time, I am working on season 13 which is the most recent season! This season had some great bake ideas as well as some not-so-great ones (but we’ll get there when we get there).
So, I figured, let’s do this all again! One of the big challenges I wanted to attempt this time around was coming up with original ideas for the signature and showstopper challenges instead of doing a recreation. On your mark… Get set… Bake!
I have made it to week eight: pastry week! The signature challenge for pastry week is vol-au-vents. Vol-au-vents are small hollow bits of puff pastry with some sort of filling in the center. Since we just came off of custard week, I was still in a custard mindset and decided to make an orange and chocolate crème patisserie for the filling.
I love making pastries. Like so much. The dough, the layers, everything about it makes me excited and want to bake more and more. Especially when it comes to something like puff pastry. I decided to make a rough puff pastry because I have not made that type of pastry before.
And if I take into consideration the time limitations of the challenge (which I still don’t hold myself to), then a rough puff pastry is like the quick version of full puff pastry. From what I could tell (from watching bake-off) was that rough puff involved using grated frozen butter while full puff uses a butter block (like what I do when I make croissants).
Check out the Season 13 Great British Bake Off Page to see other bakes from this series or the Make section for more recipes! Leave a comment below and let me know what you think and how the recipe works for you!
There were a lot of ingredients that I had to gather in order to make these sweet vol-au-vents. Four components made up the complete dish. I made rough puff pastry, orange and chocolate crème patisserie, a gingersnap crumble, and whipped cream. There was surprisingly little overlap for the ingredients between these recipes.
Rough Puff Pastry Dough
Making the rough puff pastry was my favorite part of the vol-au-vents. I really love making pastries that have so many layers. Working the dough just feels fun. It’s surprisingly little work for such a great result. Honestly, it is more waiting than anything.
Before I started on making the dough, I stuck a stick of butter into the freezer. I wanted to use grated butter in the rough puff pastry so having it frozen makes it easier to work with.
Then I placed the flour, sugar, salt, and the remaining butter (about ¼ cup) into a food processor. I was not too concerned about keeping this butter in shape as I wanted to use the butter to bring the dough together. Not to create that pastry flake.
After the dough looked a little bit like crumbs, I added water into the dough. This really brought everything together. Although it did so very slowly. I only added one tablespoon at a time. It took about four tablespoons for the dough to really come together.
I did make the mistake of adding another tablespoon of water which caused the dough to become a little too wet. So, I added some flour into the dough, and it came back into the sticky dough I was expecting.
Then I rolled out the pastry into a rectangle that was 5 inches by 8 inches. Or about that. I did not actually measure the dough and just rolled it out until it felt like the right shape and size. After that, it was time to grate the frozen butter. I was not really looking forward to this part, but it had to be done.
Folding and Shaping
I placed all of the grated butter on one half of the dough and folded the other half of the dough over the top of the butter. It felt like a butter taco… I was pretty amused by it to be honest. Then I crimped the edges of the dough around the butte. I wanted to full encase the butter and turn the taco into a calzone.
Then I rolled out the dough into a shape that was roughly 5 inches by 8 inches again. I folded the dough in thirds, like a letter, wrapped the dough, and let it chill in the fridge for about an hour. After the hour was up, the roll, fold, and chill were repeated.
I rolled out the dough back into the rectangular shape, then folded it again by thirds. Wrapped it and placed it in the fridge for about twenty minutes. I repeated this process three more times. The dough was chilled after each time because I did not want the butter to warm up too much. I was probably overly conservative about this, but I did not want to mess up the vol-au-vents.
Then it was time for the final shaping. I rolled out the dough into a ¼ inch thickness or so I could get about 18 circles from the dough. With one circle for the bottom and one for the top (which was cut again to make a ring), I ended up with 9 vol-au-vents cases.
I placed the pastry into the fridge while I waited for the oven to warm up. The pastry should be as cold as possible (but not frozen) before going into the oven. Before I put the pastry in the oven to cook, I put a light egg wash on it.
Orange and Chocolate Crème Patisserie
The next step was making the filling for the vol-au-vents. I wanted to make a chocolate crème patisserie again but this time I wanted to add some zesty flair. I really love the taste of orange and chocolate so I thought they would be the perfect pairing.
To get the rich flavor of orange throughout the dish, I zest a whole orange into the milk concoctions that I made. It was a mix of milk, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and orange zest.
I put the milk concoction on the stove in order to dissolve the sugar and to help bring out the flavor of the orange. After bringing the milk to a light simmer, I let it rest to really allow that orange flavor to soak in.
While the milk was brewing, I used a stand mixer to whisk together the remaining milk, flour, egg yolks, and cornstarch. I was surprised by how much cornstarch was used. At first, I thought of reducing it, but all of the cornstarch is needed to really get the crème patisserie to thicken.
Since the milk had cooled down from soaking, I heated it back up again to about 120° Fahrenheit. Then I poured about ½ of the hot milk mixture into egg mixture.
I love using a stand mixer for this because I like to keep the whisk going when introducing the hot mixture to the eggs. It helps temper the eggs without allowing them to cook and become scrambled eggs. And it is easier to do this with your hands free to pour.
Then it was back into the pot and onto the stove. I wanted the crème patisserie to thicken so I cooked it on medium heat. The mixture thickened up around 170° Fahrenheit. I turned off the heat and added the butter. Once the butter was melted, I added chocolate chips and stirred them to melt.
I sieved the crème pâtisserie because some of the cornstarch had clumped up and I don’t want clumps. While it was cooling, I whisked the heavy cream to soft peaks. Once the cream was cool, I folded the whipped cream in to make it even lighter. And holy heck this is delicious. I cannot stop thinking about it.
I made a lot for this recipe and honestly it was too much. The recipe below is a reduced version of the original recipe that I made.
Gingersnap Cookie Crumble
I wanted to add a little spice to this recipe so again I am crumbling cookies on top of custard (my first cooking crumble was floating islands). I thought the spice of the gingersnap would add an extra dimension to the vol-au-vents.
The first step was to combine all of the dry ingredients. This was the flour, baking soda, and all of the spices. A pretty simple step.
In a large mixer bowl, I creamed together the butter, brown sugar, and the molasses. I like to make the butter light and creamy, so I ended up mixing the butter for a long period of time. Then I added in the egg and vanilla extract.
Finally, I poured the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. The dough should only be mixed until it comes together. Then it was time to create the crumble. I basically took tiny bits of the dough and tossed it in the sugar and cinnamon. The small bits should make the crumble stay harder when they were sprinkled on the vol-au-vents.
I still cooked the dough the normal amount of time because I really wanted to crisp up these bits. And they taste so good. The extra dough can be used as cookies, so this recipe is just perfect!
The last component of the vol-au-vents was whipped cream. Which is very simple. I added heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, and powder sugar into a bowl and whipped it all together. I wanted to whip the cream to medium stiffness. This felt like the perfect stiffness for piping on top of the vol-au-vents!
The last thing that I needed to do was to assemble the vol-au-vents. This was a fairly simple process. I scooped the chocolate and orange crème patisserie into the pastry shell. Then, using a piping bag, I make a small dollop of whipped cream on top. Finally, I sprinkled the gingersnap crumble of the tom (make it a bit crumblier). And that is my version of vol-au-vents!
This was a fun dessert to make. As I said before, pastry is something I thoroughly enjoy and the flavors on this dessert were stellar. Like out of this world. I do wish that I had made more pastry dough because I honestly just wanted more of these.
The one thing that I would change about this dessert is the amount of gingerbread crumble on top. I feel like the crumble got lost in the dessert and I do wish I could have gotten a bit more of that flavor to come through.
What does it mean to Temper Eggs?
Tempering eggs is basically cooking the proteins in the yolks or whites without letting them cook into a large clump. The egg will cook while remaining smooth. This is done by continuously whisking the eggs while slowly adding a hot liquid.
Orange & Chocolate Vol-au-Vents
- 1 Stand Mixer
- 1 Food Processor
Rough Puff Pastry
- 1 ⅓ cups All-Purpose Flour plus some for dusting
- 1 Teaspoon Granulated Sugar
- ½ Teaspoon salt
- ¾ Cup Unsalted Butter freeze ½ Cup
- 6 –8 Tablespoons Ice Cold Water
- 1 Egg beaten
Orange and Chocolate Crème Patisserie
- 1 ½ Cup whole milk
- ¼ Cup sugar
- ¼ Teaspoon salt
- 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ Orange zested
- 2 Tablespoon cup cornstarch
- ½ Tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 Tablespoon cup unsalted butter
- ½ Cup bittersweet chocolate chopped
- ½ Cup heavy cream whipped to soft peaks
- 2 ½ Cup All-Purpose Flour
- 2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
- ½ Teaspoon Ground Cloves
- ½ Teaspoon Ground Cardamom
- ¾ Teaspoon Salt
- ¾ Cup Brown Sugar packed
- ¾ Cup Unsalted Butter softened
- ¼ Cup Molasses
- 1 Egg
- 2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- ¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
- ½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 2 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
- ½ Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
Rough Puff Pastry
- In a food processor, blitz together flour, sugar, and salt. Then add ¼ cup of the unsalted butter. Then, 1 tablespoon at a time, add water until the scraggly dough comes together.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. One tablespoon at a time, add the remaining water while kneading the dough.
- After the dough comes together, spread the dough out into a 5 inch by 8 inch rectangle. Grate the frozen butter and keep it contained to one half of the block (a 5 inch by 4 inch section). Fold the dough in half to enclose the butter and lightly roll out the dough. Wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Roll out the dough into a 5 inch by 8 inch block and fold it into thirds (like a letter). Wrap and chill for 20 minutes. Repeat this step three more times.
- Preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit.
- Roll out the dough into ½ inch thickness and cut out X circles and X rings. Place a ring on top of each circle. Brush egg over the pastry. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Orange and Chocolate Crème Patisserie
- In a saucepan, stir together 1 ¼ cup milk, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and orange zest. Simmer over a medium-low heat until the sugar is fully dissolved.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together cornstarch, flour, egg yolk, and remaining milk.
- While continuing to whisk, add ½ of the hot milk to the egg mixture. Let the eggs temper. Pour the egg mix back into the saucepan. Bring to a boil and let thicken (you will feel a little resistance).
- Remove from the heat and strain. Stir in butter and chocolate chips. Cover and set in the refrigerator until cool.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk heavy cream until it reaches soft peaks. Fold cream into the crème patisserie.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves, ground cloves, ground cardamom, salt. Whisk together and set aside.
- In a mixer bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and molasses until light in color and fluffy in texture.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and add egg and vanilla extract. Mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed (some scraping might be needed).
- Add flour mixture into the mixer bowl and then set the speed to medium. Mix until just combined. Make sure to scrape the bowl to mix in any remaining flour.
- In a small bowl, mix sugar and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.
- In a mixer bowl, whisk together heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until medium peaks are achieved.
- Fill the pastry shell with the chocolate and orange crème Patisserie.
- Using a piping bag, decorate the top with whipped cream. Sprinkle the gingersnap crumble on top.