7 Rounds of Strawberries and Cream – Semi-final

Welcome to men’s semi-final day at The Championships. The line-up on the Wimbledon YouTube Channel promises a day of spectacular tennis. As I am sure most people reading this blog know, one of the things that separates a Grand Slam from the main ATP Tour is that the men’s matches are played over best of five sets. Five sets in which players can build layer upon layer of drama, tension and brilliance. Not every Wimbledon semi-final is a five-set thriller, but with only the best four players still standing, the best of five format tantalises, the chance of something special drawing the crowds. My semi-final recipe needed to be as special, layered, and beautiful as a Wimbledon semi and so the choice seemed obvious…

Semi-final- Strawberry Mille-feuille

Ingredients

For the Puff Pastry

250g of Plain Flour

250g of Butter

About 160ml of cold water

A squeeze of lemon juice

(You can obviously buy ready rolled puff pastry (it’s great!) but nothing is quite like making your own if you have the time)

For the Chocolate Mousse

250g of Dark Chocolate

100g Icing Sugar

175g Unsalted Butter

5 Eggs, Separated

150ml Double Cream

For the Whipped Cream

200ml of Double Cream

Plus- Strawberries!

To make the puff pastry

Puff pastry is one of those things that we don’t make very often. Most recipes you find that use puff pastry will simply tell you to buy ready rolled. And you can, it’s delicious, works perfectly, and saves a lot of time. But I would recommend making your own puff pastry at least once. It is worth the time and effort!

Sift the flour into a large bowl and add 30g of the butter, returning the rest of your butter to the fridge. Rub together until the flour resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the water and lemon juice and knead together until you have a dry looking dough. Shape it into a patty, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for an hour.

An hour later- Remove the chilled butter from the fridge, place in a clean plastic bag and beat with your rolling pin to make it pliable. Turn it out onto some lightly flour greaseproof paper and roll out until it is roughly 15cm square (or as square as you can get it).

On a lightly floured piece of greaseproof roll your dough out until it is roughly 25cm square. Again, I can never get mine completely square and it still works so just get it as close as you can.

Place the butter diagonally over the dough, then fold the corners of the dough over to encase the butter in an envelope.

Lightly flour the dough, your rolling pin and the grease proof once more. I use greaseproof here as you can use it to help you fold the pastry if it is sticking anywhere.

Roll the dough out to a 1cm thick rectangle. Fold the bottom third of the pastry up, and the top one third of the pastry down and gently seal by pressing down with the rolling pin.

Turn the dough 90 degrees and make sure your side, rolling pin and dough are all lightly floured.

Roll out again so that it is three times as long as it is wide and about 5mm thick. The thicknesses don’t need to be exact; you will get a feel for it.

Fold as before, one third in and then the other. Seal gently, wrap in clingwrap and place in the fridge for 30 mins.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll and fold twice more. Keep ensuring you have a light coating of flour to prevent anything from sticking.

Chill again for 30 mins

Roll and fold twice more.

Chill again for 30 minutes, then the dough will be ready to use!

Lightly flour your entire kitchen side. Roll until very thin, a few mm is all you want.

Cut into small oblongs. I made a cardboard shape to cut around.

Chill again once cut for 30 mins.

Preheat your oven to 200C.

Place your pastry onto a baking tray, sprinkling each side with caster sugar.

Prick your pastry with a fork down the length of each oblong.

Cook for 10 minutes, then remove and gently turn your pastry over. Return to the oven for 5 minutes.

Remove and place on a cooling rack.

To make the mousse

The mousse needs time to set, so I would advise making in the first hour your dough is chilling.

Melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. You don’t want the bowl to be touching the water.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, but leave the bowl over the water. Add half the icing sugar, stir, then add the butter, whisking until it is completely melted.

Add the egg yolks one at a time, whisking in between. Remove the bowl from above the hot water, then set aside.

Whisk the egg whites using a handheld electric whisk until soft peaks form. Add the remain half of the icing sugar and whisk until thick and glossy.

Whisk the cream until stiff peaks form.

Add a large spoonful of the whites to chocolate and fold together until fully combined. Add the chocolate to the egg whites and fold gently, occasionally adding the whipped cream until fully combined.

Cover the bowl and place in the fridge to set.

When ready to assemble whip the remaining double cream until thick peaks form, and spoon into a piping bag.

Fill a second piping bag with the chocolate mousse. My recipe makes too much mousse but it is still great the next day, and delicious with strawberries cut up on top of it.

Slice the strawberries. As you can see from the photographs, I halved mine, but when eating the meille-feuille realised it would have been better sliced. This way you could make a complete layer of sliced strawberry over the pastry and guarantee strawberry with every mouthful.

Place your oblongs of pastry on a flat surface. It works well assembling mille-feuille in a production line.

Lay the sliced strawberries over them. Pipe alternating rows of cream and chocolate mousse. Gently lay a second pastry sheet over the top and repeat your pattern, strawberries, cream and mousse. The lay a final layer of pastry on top. Decorate the top anyway you want, then eat!

Puff pastry is better eaten fresh as it will lose a little of its crunch overnight, so this is a recipe best made to share. I hope you enjoy it, and that the effort put into making your own puff pastry tasted worth it!  

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