The choice of this week's challenge was easy then. Time for a Showstopper!
The last time I had a Vanilla Custard Mille Feuille was from Patisserie Valerie in Bath, and before that it was at The Ritz, so no pressure...
This recipe is stagey. I made the pastry the day before I cooked it as well, as you need to let it chill for at least 6 hours. Don't be scared, apart from taking time (it's something you can't rush) making puff pastry isn't hard, just time consuming. So...here we go...!
Vanilla Custard Mille Feuille
This recipe makes 6 Mille Feuille's.
For the pastry
225g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
150ml cold water
Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and put in the fridge for a few minutes.
Cut the butter up into a small cubes and get your water ready in a jug (1). Also, lay out a large piece of cling film on a counter surface.
Then put the butter into the bowl of the flour and stir with a metal knife until each cube of butter it completely covered in flour (2). Pour in the water and quickly bring the dough together with one hand.
Turn the dough out onto the clingfilm and swash into a large flat disc. Wrap it up and put in the fridge for half an hour.
The next stage is the rolling, folding and chilling.
Take you pastry out of the fridge and roll out on a floured surface (3). Taking care the whole time to only roll in one direction. Fold the pastry over and roll again (4). Repeat this 4 more times, then wrap the pastry back up in the cling film and put it back in the fridge. (Now it's time to make a cuppa/put the washing on/do a bit of washing up/watch some telly).
After 15 mins take it back out the fridge and repeat the process of folding and rolling.
When you are finally happy that you can't see anymore cubes of butter (it should look marbley) and you've put in as many layers as possible wrap it back up and chill in the fridge until you need it.
The next day I got up, put my apron on and started making the Creme Patisserie filling. Just before you start making the filling roll out the pastry to 5mm thickness, place on lined baking trays and bake for 30 minutes at 200C/400F.
For the Creme Pat
4 medium egg yolks
65g caster sugar
15g plain flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or paste if your budget allows)
In a large saucepan heat the milk and vanilla extract over a gentle heat.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar until they turn a pale gold color. Then whisk in the flour and cornflour and put to one side.
Once the milk is simmering take it off the heat, leave it for 30 seconds, the pour half into the mixing bowl whisking vigorously. Then pour the custard into the saucepan and bring the mixture up to the boil whisking continuously. (Seriously, don't stop stirring!)
Keep going until the custard is smooth and thick.
Take off the heat and immediately transfer to a clean bowl and cool as fast as possible (dust with icing sugar to prevent a skin forming).
Now for the construction (both the pastry and the custard need to be cool for this).
Cut the cooked puff into 18 rectangles and then put the custard into a piping bag.
Lay the bottom layers of pastry out (the ones that look the worse!) and pipe on a layer of custard. Repeat and then put on the top layer. Chill the slices in the fridge until serving.
I took these round to my parent's house and even after a family dinner and pudding an hour later these disappeared with a cup of tea. With approval all round I was pretty happy with how they turned out. Not quite Patisserie Valarie standard, but what can you do!