Now that we've mastered our own puff paste, Fanny thinks we are ready to move on speedily to the Classics. Well, the kind of Fanny version of the classics that we have become accustomed to, and in many ways expect to see. Fanny has, with only our very best interests at heart, worked out a way that we can make the Classic Mille Feuille - which is traditionally difficult to make really well - easily and quite quickly. Fanny has scoffed her way around a fair few cream puffs in her quest to find the best, and frankly some of the soggy objects she has been offered were not fit for her, or us. Her version will be the only one to do.
If you haven't made Fannys homemade puff paste, she does say that you can buy some in the shops. It really was more straightforward than expected though. Either way it should be rolled out very thinly, to an extremely mean quarter of an inch. Fanny uses a 'proper' Mille Feuille metal frame to measure and cut - inside the frame please - out the required shapes of pastry. They are then cooked inside the frame to ensure that they remain the correct size. I don't have a frame. I decide to go a bit more free-form, cutting neatly measured rectangles using a pizza cutter. I've been watching the Bake Off Crème de la Crème you see. Fanny may not be pleased, but Cherish the ruler regulator might be.
The only trouble with precision measuring and cutting is that my pastry rolling skills are not precise. So I end up with a lot of off-cuts. In her crusade to enlighten me to the proper, professional way, Fanny has a solution. So, while my rectangles are puffing up on a wetted base in the hot oven, Fanny suggests we set about making some Palmiers. The scraps of paste are cobbled together and rolled out to a large rectangle, brushed with a beaten egg and sprinkled wth sugar. The long edges are rolled in to meet each other in the middle, and stuck together with more egg wash before being sliced and arranged on another wetted tray ready to be baked. Savoury Palmiers may be made using cheese instead of sugar if required. Handy to know, thanks Fanny.
Fannys Classic Mille Feuilles require nothing more than assembly for the first stage. Fanny splits each puffy rectangle in half horizontally and begins making a tower of puffy leaves sandwiched with jam and cream. Confectioners custard may be used in alternative layers too, but I stick with the classic jam and cream combination. I've got extra thick double cream which spreads well and doesn't need to be whipped, so my arm can have a rest. Fanny insists on there being seven layers in all, so one half a rectangle will not be used. Nor will it be wasted. Fanny dusts it with icing sugar and slices it into fingers for tea. I'd be tempted just to have eight layers really, there would still be no waste at all, but I suppose that's not the classic way.
The classic topping is a simple Glacé Icing (icing sugar mixed with a little water) with a chocolate swirly decoration drawn into it. Fanny uses her very favourite softened chocolate chips, but I have a shortcut in a tube. Fanny 'runs in' (the proper technical term) the decoration using a butchery needle. I am quite scared. Thankfully I have a much safer chopstick to hand, perfect for swirling duties. Fanny does say if you simply can't be bothered, don't. Oh. It won't affect the taste of this classic at all. Too late, I've done it. I'm classic through and through, it seems. Fanny is simply doing her job, showing us everything she possibly can, giving us the finest possible information. And, bearing in mind she still has that butchers needle in her hand, we are so very grateful. Aren't we? The finished Mille Feuille won't win any style awards, but it is so tasty. The pastry crisp, light and feathery. The cream and jam balanced well. No soggy objects. Classic Fanny.