- plain flour for dusting
- 3 tbsp caster sugar, plus extra for serving
- 350g puff pastry
- 300ml double cream
- 1 vanilla pod
- 600g strawberries
Once available in Britain for just a brief period during the summer, strawberries are now a year…
- small bunch of basil, leaves picked, with a few of the smaller leaves left whole for the salad
Most closely associated with Mediterranean cooking but also very prevalent in Asian food, the…
- zest ½ lemon
Oval in shape, with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile fruits…
- 50g good-quality white chocolate
To purists, this is not chocolate because it is made only from the fat or butter of the cacao…
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. On a lightly floured surface scattered with a little sugar, roll out the pastry to a rectangle slightly larger than 28 x 30cm. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment and scatter with more sugar. Use the rolling pin to lift the pastry onto the baking parchment.
Scatter more caster sugar over the pastry and cover with another sheet of baking parchment. Lay another heavy baking sheet (or a baking sheet weighed down with an empty ceramic oven dish if yours aren't heavy) on top and bake for 25-30 mins until the pastry is golden and crisp, then set aside to cool.
To make the filling, tip the cream into a bowl with 3 tbsp of sugar, and the vanilla seeds. Lightly whisk until the cream just hold its shape and set aside. Hull and quarter the strawberries and set a few aside for the salad, then cut the rest into 3 or 4 chunks. Finely shred the basil, then fold through the cream with the chopped strawberries and lemon zest, then chill until needed.
When the pastry has cooled completely trim the edges to form a neat 28 x 30cm rectangle. Cut into 3 equal rectangles – to get them precisely the same size, cut one then lay it on the rest of the pastry and use it as a guide to the next rectangle, then repeat.
To assemble the millefeuille, lay down one rectangle of pastry, add half of the cream and strawberry mix and flatten with the back of a spoon. Place the second pastry layer on top and gently press down. Finely grate over half the white chocolate and top with the remaining cream mix. Place the final layer of pastry on and press down gently so that the filling just starts to bulge over the edges.
Use a palette knife to smooth the filling along the sides so that it is level with the edges of pastry and fills any gaps. Add a smear of filling across cut pastry edges to help the grated chocolate to stick. Grate chocolate on top. The easiest way to get grated chocolate to stick to the sides is to help it on with a palette knife. Mix the reserved strawberries and the small basil leaves to make a simple salad.
To serve, carefully slice the millefeuille into 6 equal pieces. As you slice, hold the millefeuille together by placing a finger at either side of the blade. Place a piece of millefeuille to the side of each plate. Spoon a small pile of strawberry salad on the opposite side of the plate and serve.
Get aheadThe millefeuille can be assembled up to 2 hrs ahead and kept somewhere cool. You could also prepare the pastry rectangles, and cream mix the night before. However, don’t add the basil to the cream until just before assembly, and keep the pastry well wrapped in cling film.
Vanilla podsVanilla pods are expensive and can vary in quality. A sign of freshness is a plump, soft, sticky pod. Avoid dry and brittle ones. Never throw away empty vanilla pods as they have lots of flavour. Make vanilla sugar for other desserts by keeping the empty pods in a jar of caster sugar or infuse them into syrups or custards.