I LOVE these pastries. Its hard to find a good one as I am a bit fussy about the filling and also the pastry has to be fresh enough that it crumbles and doesn't just flatten the filing when you try to break it.
I'd eaten a few recently and been disappointed and decided to give them a try. I was VERY pleased with he flavour and the flakiness of the pastry. The icing needs a bit of work, but hey, its a learning curve and I can't imagine there will be many complaints as family and friends are taste testing the 'experiments'. The first step is to make the pastry. You can buy the pastry, but I really don't like the strange 'lardy' after-taste that the pre-made pastries have, I guess they must use a cheap butter or butter alternative. Either way, it has an unpleasant taste so I made a Rough Puff Pastry. This is slightly quicker than a traditional Puff Pastry as it doesn't need to chill overnight.
In between the chilling and folding of the pastry I made the creme patisserie and kept it in a piping bag in the fridge until I needed it.
I whipped fresh cream and put this into a piping bag too.
When the pastry was chilled sufficiently I matched up the rectangles so they would make even sized pastries and lay them out in rows of threes.
I made my Mille Feuille with three layers of pastry, one layer of creme and one layer of Creme Patisserie. When I made mini versions of these for a party I just did 2 layers of pastry and a filling of Creme Patisserie. The choice is yours
Before assembling the Mille Feuille you need to ice the pastry that will be the top layer. This is simply a mixture of icing sugar mixed into a paste with a TINY bit of water.
This got a little messy as it was my first attempt, but once you lift the pastries from the baking tray they don't look too bad. When the icing sugar mix is thick enough that you can paint in on and it doesn't run you literally paint it over the pastry.
I dipped a cocktail stick into gel food colouring and dribbled its over the icing and swirled it a little to give the pink chaotic pattern I have here. I definitely need to work on this technique but it wasn't a bad first attempt.
The final stage is to pipe the creme patisserie onto one layer of pastry. Not too thick but it needs to be thick enough to give the pastries some height. Lay the second pastry on top and then repeat with the fresh creme.
I put the fresh cream as the top layer because it isn't as dense as the creme patisserie and I wasn't sure it would hold the weight of the other layers. Lastly, the pastry layer with the icing goes on top.
And there you go.
Now I admit, its not the quickest or easiest recipe to do, but its not a bad one if you are at home all day and are cooking other things at the same time. I made them on the same day as a batch of Macarons, using the left over egg yolks for the Creme Patisserie.
Even with my messy icing they were a HUGE hit. My father-in-law said they were better than Sprungli, and as compliments go - they don't come any bigger than that.
225g plain flour
half a tsp salt
200g chilled grated butter
180ml chilled water
juice from half a lemon.
Mix the flour and salt into a large bowl and add the butter. Mix the butter around with a large metal spoon to coat it in flour. Be careful to keep the butter in lumps. Most recipes just say to keep the butter in lumps or shreds when you add it as this helps to give the nice raise and flaky layers. I grated the butter because I wanted to control the amount of raise.
Mix the water and lemon juice together and slowly pour into the flour mixture.
Mix everything together using a metal knife. Use a chopping action to kind of chop the butter into the flour until it looks like a dough.
It will still be quite wet.
Tip it out onto a floured surface and work it into a rectangle shape. I rolled it out slightly and then folded the bottom third into the middle and the top third down over that so it is three layers.
Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 10-15mins.
When chilled, remove from the fridge and with the folded edges to the sides roll the pastry out into a rectangle again. The same size as before. Again fold the bottom third into the middle and the top third over. Wrap it again and chill for 30mins. Repeat this step twice more. After the last rolling leave the pastry to chill for 2 hours.
When chilled remove and quickly roll out into a long rectangle shape about half a cm in thickness, try not to handle the pastry too much as this will make it warm and the butter will melt.
Lay the pastry on a tray and chill again for maybe 10-15 mins.
I made a stencil for the size of the Mile Feuille using baking paper. I lay this over the chilled pastry and used a pizza cutter to cut out the rectangle shapes I needed.
Carefully place the rectangles on a baking sheet lined with paper with a few cm between them.
Lie a piece of making paper over them and lie another baking tray on top to weigh them down.
You want to get a little rise but no too much. I have seen recipes where they suggest to prick the surface for the pastry all over with a fork.... laying a baking tray over the top worked for me, so I'm sticking with it !!
Bake these in the oven for about 10 mins at 200 degrees. remove the baking tray and paper from the top and put them back in the oven for another 5-10 mins until golden brown. Bring them out and let them cool on a wire rack.
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