This dish can be successfully made only with the finest and lightest puff-paste (see feuilletage,), 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 à la crême, 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), 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 crast, 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 contents securely.
Obs.—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.