Saturday, 7 June 2014

mille feuillé

I loved custard squares as a child. However as I aged and my palette became more sophisticated I was aware of the gluggy pastry and the Edmonds custard. Then I went to Europe and had a genuine French mille feuille. So this is what the bastardised NZ version is based on? Divine.
A mad french woman named Marianne opened a cafe in town about 10 years ago and she made her own mille feuille with passionfruit icing - great kiwi modification! Predictably the cafe was sold to the usual conglomerate that purchases and destroys many excellent cafes in NZ, but that's another story. However since then I have gradually mastered the art of making mille feuille. They are not yet perfect and unless I become a french pastry chef then they are probably as good as they will get and that's pretty good.
There is quite an involved process in making them and I only make then once a year for either Mothers day or my birthday - which could be why they took so long to perfect. Maybe there is another mille feuille addict out there that will appreciate all my 'research'.

To make 8 large or 16 small mille feuille.
Pastry Creme
4 cups of milk
2/3 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of standard cake flour
6 egg yolks
vanilla extract

Separate the eggs, put yolks in a large heatproof bowl and beat in sugar until pale - about 1 minute.
Sprinkle flour over top and beat until combined.
Heat milk carefully until just about to simmer.
Ladle milk into egg mixture one spoon at a time and beat between each addition to ensure egg does not curdle.
Pour mixture back into saucepan and gradually bring to boil stirring constantly so it does not catch on the bottom. When cooked add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Pour into a dish and cover with Gladwrap pushed down onto the top of the creme to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate over night.

I use Edmonds flakey puff pastry sheets. When I retire, I will learn to make my own.
Place the pastry sheets between two sheets of baking paper weighed down with another tray or two to keep pastry flat. Bake at 210 degrees on a hot tray for 16 minutes.
Remove from oven, remove trays and top baking paper. Sprinkle generously with icing sugar and return to oven. Watch carefully as sugar caramelises then remove quickly from oven before it burns.
Flip pastry sheet over and repeat on other side. Cool on wire trays.

1 1/2 cups icing sugar
passionfruit pulp
Heat approximately 1/4 to 1/3 cup of passionfruit pulp in the microwave and add to icing sugar gradually. Adjust quantities as needed to make a thick but smooth icing.

Spread half on the pastry creme over the first sheet of pastry ensuring it goes all the way to the edge.
Place the next sheet of pastry on, repeat and add top sheet of pastry. Ice with passionfruit icing.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes minimum. You will be amazed at how well this cuts with a sharp knife. The custard creme does not ooze out when you cut it. You can trim the edges if you want perfect looking mille feuille or leave them for a more rustic look. They are best eaten on the day they are assembled for crisp pastry. Bon appetite!

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