Puff pastry can be intimidating but the hardest part really is waiting. When making the classic version there is a lot of time that the pastry needs to relax. So if you are itching for a buttery, flaky piece of heaven go with the quick puff. Your craving can be satisfied in just a couple of hours.
So please… you are no longer allowed to be afraid of this beautiful pastry. Make up a batch or two throw it in your freezer. At that point the options are ENDLESS. I have listed some recipes below that are just a small sample of the multitude of variations. Sweet, savory. Appetizer, main, dessert. It is so incredibly versatile.
Puff pastry is made up of four basic ingredients; flour, butter, water and salt. The magic happens during the process of combining these ingredients and then when it is baked. The dough (detrempe) is folded around the butter is such a way that it creates thousands of alternating layers of butter and dough. When the puff is put into a very hot oven the butter heats up and boils causing steam which pushes the flour layers up creating the flaky layers.
Quick puff pastry is a great alternative that, as the name suggests, is a process that is a lot faster than the classic version of puff. The layers are not as uniform and it may not rise as much as the classic but the result is still an incredibly flaky, buttery and delicious pastry. It is also a bit more tender than the classic version because the butter is worked into the flour more directly.
Classic Puff Pastry
Source: On Cooking : Techniques from Expert Chefs by Sarah R. Labensky and Alan M. Hause (Prentice Hall)
- 13 ounces (390 g) all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 tsp (7 ml) salt
- 3 ounces (90 g) unsalted butter, cold
- 7 fluid ounces (210 ml) water, cold
- 10 ounces (300 g) unsalted butter, softened
To form the detrempe, (dough) sift the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Cut the cold butter (3 ounces) into small pieces and then cut the pieces into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
Make a well in the center of the mixture and add all the water at once. Using a rubber spatula or your fingers, gradually draw the flour into the water. Mix until all the flour is incorporated. Do not knead. The detrempe should be sticky and shaggy-looking.
Note: The detrempe can be made in a food processor. To do so, combine the flour, salt and pieces of cold butter in a food processor bowl fitted with the metal blade. Process until a coarse meal is formed. With the processor running, slowly add the water. Turn the machine off as soon as the dough comes together to form a ball. Process with the remainder of the recipe.
Turn the detrempe out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough a few times by hand, rounding it into a ball. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic and chill overnight.
To roll in the butter, first prepare the softened butter by placing it between two sheets of plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin to roll the softened butter into a rectangle, approximately 5 inches by 8 inches (12.5 centimeters by 20 centimeters). It is important that the detrempe and butter be of almost equal consistency. If necessary, allow the detrempe to sit at room temperature to soften or chill the butter briefly to harden.
On a lightly floured board, roll the detrempe into a rectangle approximately 12 inches by 15 inches (30 centimeters by 37.5 centimeters). Lift and rotate the dough as necessary to prevent sticking.
Use a dry pastry brush to brush away any flour from the dough’s surface. Loose flour can cause gray streaks and can prevent the puff pastry from rising properly when baked.
Peel one piece of plastic wrap from the butter. Position the butter in the center of the rectangle and remove the remaining plastic. Fold the four edges of the detrempe over the butter enclosing it completely. Stretch the dough if necessary; it is important that none of the butter be exposed.
With the folded side facing up, press the dough several times with a rolling pin. Use a rocking motion to create ridges in the dough. Place the rolling pin in each ridge and slowly roll back and forth to widen the ridge. Repeat until all the ridges are doubled in size. Using the ridges as a starting point, roll the dough out into a smooth, even rectangle approximately 8 inches by 24 inches (20 centimeters by 50 centimeters). Be careful to keep the corners of the dough as right angles.
Use a dry pastry brush to remove any loose flour from the dough’s surface. Fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter. If one end is damaged or in worse condition, fold it in first; otherwise, start at the bottom. This completes the first turn.
Rotate the block of dough 90 degrees so that the folded edge is on your left and the dough faces you like a book. Roll out the dough again, repeating the ridging technique. Once again, the dough should be in a smooth, even rectangle of approximately 8 inches by 24 inches (20 centimeters by 60 centimeters).
Fold the dough in thirds again, completing the second turn. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. Repeat the rolling and folding technique until the dough has had a total of five turns. Do not perform more than two turns without a resting and chilling period. Cover the dough completely and chill overnight before shaping and baking.
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