Life has been busy lately. I’ve found myself constantly rushing, running from one job to the next and basically fuelling myself with caffeine to get by. I think a lot of people who are working toward any kind of career driven goals can relate to this. Jo and I are constantly discussing recipes, pictures, drawings and ideas, so much so that some nights I even dream about cake. Last week on my day off I decided to slow everything down by making mille-feuille, a dessert I love to make. There is something so satisfying about making pastry from scratch; it really does make you stop and slow down and gain a bit of perspective. I find all the rolling and turning of puff pastry cathartic. It's something that you can't speed up. You just have to roll the dough, and then rest it, roll the dough, and then rest it, so many times. It really requires a whole day at home. I felt myself slowly unwinding with each turn of the pastry, and I was so delighted when I baked it to see how well it had turned out.
Mille-feuille translates to "a thousand leaves," or "a thousand layers," and relates to the layers of this dessert and it's flaky pastry. If you whip this dessert out at a dinner party people will be impressed for sure (it's a bit of a show stopper). I also love it because it reminds me of all the pastries I ate while I was in Paris.
There are two ways you can go about making this desert. I definitely went about it the slow way by making the pastry from scratch, but there really is no shame in buying puff pastry if you don’t have a whole day to dedicate to rolling dough (Jo always says “if store bought pastry is good enough for Jamie Oliver, then its good enough for me.” And I really must agree!)
I borrowed this recipe idea from one of my favourite celebrity chefs Rachel Khoo and tweaked it a little. I hope you enjoy making it as much as I did!
RHUBARB ROSE WATER MILLE-FEUILLE
- 1 block of ready rolled puff pastry
- 2tbs caster sugar
- Roll out pastry so that it is half a cm in thickness and place on a tray that has been lined with baking paper.
- Prick the pastry all over with a fork and sprinkle with sugar.
- Place another sheet of baking paper on top of the pastry and then sit another tray on top. This is to stop the pastry from puffing up too high. Alternatively you could place a cooling rack on top of the pastry so that it still puffs up a little, but not too much.
- Bake it at 180 degrees Celsius for half an hour or until golden and crunchy.
- Take the pastry from the oven and while it is still hot use a bread knife to cut long strips the same size. The length will depend on what size you want your dessert , but I usually go for about 4 cm by 9cm.
- Set the pastry aside to cool
- 2 cups of cream
- 1 vanilla bean
- ¼ cup of caster sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 1tsp of plain flour
- 1tsp of corn flour
- Scrape the vanilla bean into the cream and add the pod. Bring to the boil.
- Remove the cream from the heat and set aside.
- Whisk together the yolks, sugar, and both flours.
- Slowly add the hot cream, a little at a time, whisking between additions.
- Strain and then pour the mix into a clean pot and return to medium heat.
- Cook while constantly stirring until the mix starts to bubble.
- Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl and cover with cling wrap.
- Chill the custard in the fridge until cold and set.
- 1 bunch of rhubarb
- 3tbs of sugar
- 2tbs rose water
- Cut rhubarb to be about the same length as your pastry (9cm).
- Place on a tray and sprinkle with sugar.
- Pour over the rosewater and set aside for half an hour.
- Bake in an oven at 180 degrees Celsius until tender. This should take around twenty minutes, but you really want to keep an eye on it as it turns to mush pretty quickly. I usually check it every ten minutes to start with and then adjust the time accordingly. You want it to be soft, but to still hold its shape.
Assembling the dessert
- Icing sugar
- Place a star nozzle in a piping bag and fill it with the custard.
- Take one piece of pastry as your base and add a layer of rhubarb.
- Pipe a little bit of custard on top to help glue on the next layer of pastry.
- Place another piece of pastry on top and then pipe little star shapes down the length of the pastry in two even rows.
- Place another piece of pastry on top
- Dust with icing sugar.