This is the basic pastry case which encloses a variety of fillings to make up the classic French Vol-au-Vent. It is time- consuming to make – end result is well worth the effort.

8- —

1 lb. Puff Pastry, chilled

1 egg lightly beaten with x2 teaspoon salt

Sprinkle a large baking sheet with cold water and set aside. On a lightly floured working surface, roll out the dough to 1-inch thick.

Using an 8-inch oval plate as a guide, with a sharp knife cut out two ovals of dough. Place one oval on the baking sheet.

Cut out a smaller oval, for the lid, from the centre of the second piece of dough and set the lid aside.

Using a pastry brush dipped in water, dampen the edges of the large oval of dough on the baking sheet. Place the dough oval, left over from the lid, on top. Gently press the edges together with your finger tips.

Using a knife, flake-up the sides of the dough case (this seals the dough together and helps it to rise).

Place the small oval, which will form the lid, on the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and chill the dough for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to very hot 475°F (Gas Mark 9, 240CC).

Remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator. Using a sharp knife, mark the dough lid into squares.

Brush the top of the dough case and lid with the beaten egg mixture, taking care not to let the egg touch the sides of the dough.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the vol-au-vent for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the lid to a wire rack.

Reduce the oven temperature to moderate 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C). Using two spoons, remove and discard any soft dough from the inside of the vol-au-vent. Return the vol-au-vent to the oven and bake for a further 30 to 40 minutes or until the vol-au-vent is crisp and golden brown.

Remove the vol-au-vent from the oven. It is now ready to be filled.

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