This dish can be successfully made only with the finest and lightest puff-paste (see feuilletage, page 250), as its height, which ought to be from four to five inches, depends entirely on its rising in the oven. Roll it to something more than an inch in thickness, and cut it to the shape and size of the inside of the dish in which it is to be served, or stamp it out with a fluted tin of proper dimensions; then mark the cover evenly about an inch from the edge all round, and ornament it and the border also, with a knife, as fancy may direct; brush yolk of egg quickly over them, and put the vol-au-vent immediately into a brisk oven, that it may rise well, and be finely coloured, but do not allow it to be scorched. In from twenty to thirty minutes, should it appear baked through, as well as sufficiently browned, draw it out, and with the point of a knife detach the cover carefully where it has been marked, and scoop out all the soft unbaked crumb from the inside of the vol-au-vent; then turn it gently on to a sheet of clean paper, to drain the butter from it.
At the instant of serving, fill it with a rich fricassee of lobster, or of sweetbreads, or with turbot a la creme, or with the white part of cold roast veal cut in thin collops not larger than a shilling, and heated in good white sauce with oysters (see minced veal and oysters, page 174), or with any other of the preparations which we shall indicate in their proper places, and send it immediately to table. The vol-au-vent, as the reader will perceive, is but the case, or crust, in which various kinds of delicate ragouts are served in an elegant form. As these are most frequently composed of fish, or of meats which have been already dressed, it is an economical as well as an excellent mode of employing such remains. The sauces in which they are heated must be quite thick, for they would otherwise soften, or even run through the crust. This, we ought to observe, should be examined before it is filled, and should any part appear too thin, a portion of the crumb which has been taken out should be fastened to it with some beaten egg, and the whole of the inside brushed lightly with more egg, in order to make the loose parts of the vol-au-vent stick well together.
This method is recommended by an admirable and highly experienced cook, but it need only be resorted to when the crust is not solid enough to hold the con tents securely.
* For the mode of doing this, see observations, page 256. and. note, page 257. A ham must be boiled or stewed tender, and freed from the skin and blackened parts before it is laid in; poultry and game, boned ; and alt meat highly seasoned.
For moderate-sized vol-au-vent, flour, 1/2 lb.; butter, 1/2 lb.; salt, small saltspoonful; yolk, 1 egg; little water. Larger vol-au-vent, 3/4 lb. flour; other ingredients in proportion: baked 20 to 30 minutes.
When the vol-au-vent is cut out with the fluted cutter, a second, some sizes smaller, after being just dipped into hot water, should be pressed nearly half through the paste, to mark the cover. The border ought to be from three quarters of an inch to an inch and a half wide
After the crust has been made and baked as above, fill it at the moment of serving with peaches, apricots, mogul, or any other richly flavoured plums, which have been stewed tender in syrup; lift them from this, and keep them hot while it is boiled rapidly almost to jelly, then arrange the fruit in the vol-au-vent, and pour the syrup over it. For the manner of preparing it, see compotes of fruit, Chapter XX (Sweet Dishes, Or Entremets).; but increase the proportion of sugar nearly half, that the juice may be reduced quickly to the proper consistency for the vol-au-vent. Skin and divide the apricots, and quarter the peaches, unless they should be very small.
After having raised the cover and emptied the vol-au-vent, lay it on a sheet of paper, and let it become cold. Fill it just before it is sent to table with fruit, either boiled down to a rich marmalade, or stewed as for the preceding vol-au-vent, and heap well-flavoured, but not too highly sweetened, whipped cream over it. The edge of the crust may be glazed by sifting sugar over it, when it is drawn from the oven, and holding a salamander or red-hot shovel above it; or it may be left unglazed, and ornamented with bright-coloured fruit jelly.