Well, Lisa and Ivonne are never going to forgive me but it seems like I have an affair with Pierre Herme almost every weekend, at least on sunday afternoons when I finally can sit down and fantasize about him..ok, maybe not "him" but his culinary ventures and creations. Every macaron, gateau, pastry is a poem in itself...so does the man. As I tried to put into words what I felt for and thought if Pierre Heme, I remembered a post I had bookmarked from ubber talented pastry chef Shuna at Eggbeater. Read this and you will understand why we are infatuated!
Instead of my traditional "internet fantasies by P.H", I became completely engrossed in a book my mom gave me for Christmas years ago... I love the book and yet I probably only made a handful of recipes from it, rice pudding, a couple of sorbets, creme brulees, chocolate mousses,etc. I am afraid to touch gold...I am afraid to mess with perfection...Oh what the heck?! I am far from his level so why not...after all, he put his recipes in book, he's got to be thinking about us and (please say so) can't be completely narcissistic....
I always read a cookbook from the end first: the materials and ingredient sources, the index, the ingredients and above all the techniques and tips from which I can always learn.
As I was reading the book, my eyes stopped at this recipe : "pate feuilletee inversee"...or...Inside Out Puff Pastry. Yes, you read right. In regular puff pastry, the layers are created by folding pastry dough over a butter block and folding and turning it several times. Well, leave it Pierre Herme to fold the butter block over the pastry dough, folding and turning. The result is fabulous, layers upon layers of soft, airy buttery goodness. I was really curious to see how that butter block (with a minimum of flour) would behave being on the outside. Things turned out perfectly and if I could have kissed my butter right then I think I would have, but the neighbors were around and I did not want to scare anybody off.
I don't know if Herme created the concept but it would not surprise me a bit given his ability to re-invent classics and techniques.
One particular recipe in the book caught my eyes, a "mille feuilles" also known as "napoleon" with gorgeous red strawberries, rhubarb and vanilla pastry cream. I had the dough, fresh plump raspberries and freshly roasted rhubarb. I favor simple whipped cream with raspberries and I was short on time, trying to put together an impromptu dessert for our weekly friday evening al fresco dinner with the neighbors. In other words, I skipped the pastry cream, and I am glad I did because the finished dessert was light, tart and let the dough shine through instead of taking supporting role.
Raspberry Rhubard Mille Feuilles, adapted from Pierre Herme:
Inside Out Puff Pastry: (enough for 4 napoleons and 1 large tart)
190 gr soft butter
75 gr flour
175 gr flour
7 gr. salt
60 gr melted butter
70 ml water
For the Butter block: mix together the soft butter and the flour and form into a ball, in between two sheets of plastic or parchment paper, roll into a disk 3/4 inch thick. Refrigerate 1 1/2 hours
For the dough: mix all the ingredients together, adding the water little by little until you get a smooth dough. Pat into a square 3/4 inch thick and refrigerate 1 1/2 hours.
Roll the butter block into a 1/2 inch thick disk, put the dough block on top and enclose it with the butter block (by pulling the extra butter dough over the pastry dough).
Roll into a rectangle 16x9 inch. Fold the top and bottom toward the middle, fold the dough in half. Put the folded edge toward your left, lightly press the dough with your hand and refrigerate for an hour.
Repeat one more time and refrigerate 1 hour.
For the third and final turn, roll out the dough into a rectangle again, visually dive your dough in 3 and fold the bottom and top thirds toward the middle tier. Refrigerate another hour before using in your recipe.
The dough makes more than what you might need for one tart or severl Napoleons, but it is easier to work a large quantity of puff pastry and refrigerate or freeze what you don't use.
1/2 Inside Out Puff Pastry
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks with 2 Tb sugar
1 pint fresh raspberries.
Heat oven to 375. Cut 2 rhubarb stalks into 1 inch slices. Put them in a medium sized roasting pan, sprinkle 1/2 cup brown sugar over it and roast until the rhubarb get caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, and slightly mash with a fork.
Roll the dough to a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Line a baking sheet with parchement paper, lay the puff pastry on it, cover with another sheet of parchment paper, put a baking sheet over it and bake at 375 until golden brown. The top baking sheet adds enough weight for your dough to remain under control and yet allows for the layers to puff up during baking. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
Once cooled, cut the dough into equally sized triangles (decide the size according to your taste. I went for a base of 3 inches).
Put a pastry triangle on a plate, pipe or spoon some whipped cream over it, cover with raspberries. Top with a sheet of pastry, spoon some roasted rhubarb, cover with a final sheet of pastry and dust with powdered sugar.