Intro

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

class notes…
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)

Ingredients:

  • 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

Preparation:

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.


Quick Puff

adapted from epicurious.com
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 1/2 sticks (3 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, chilled
1 cup cold water

1. Sift together the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.

2. Add chilled, diced butter and pulse three to five times, until the butter pieces are about the size of lima beans. Add water to the mixture and pulse again about three times. Invert the crumbly mass onto a lightly floured work surface.

3. Using a rolling pin and bench scraper, shape the mass into a long rectangle. Use the bench scraper and carefully flip one third of the rectangle toward the center. Then, flip the other end to the center, like folding a business letter. Rotate the dough 90 degrees.

4. Reshape and roll the dough into a rectangle. Repeat the folding and rotating process three more times for a total of four turns. If the dough becomes soft or sticky during this process, immediately refrigerate until firm.

5. After four turns, wrap the dough in plastic wrap. With your finger, make four indentations in the dough — one for each time the dough has been turned. This is a reference point for how many times the dough has been turned. Refrigerate the dough at least 45 minutes or until firm.

6. After the dough has been refrigerated for 45 minutes, unwrap it and discard the plastic. Keep your work surface and rolling pin well floured. Press down on each of the four sides of dough to seal its shape.

7. Start with the rolling pin at the center. Roll away from you. Return to the center and roll toward you. Repeat the folding and rotating process of the dough two more times for a total a total of six times.

8. After the sixth turn, wrap the finished dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate to make sure it is well-chilled before baking. Quick Puff Pastry keeps refrigerated up to three days or frozen for several months.

Tomato Tart

adapted from yumsugar.com

- 1 12 inch square puff pastry
- 3 heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- Fleur de sel and black pepper to taste
- 1 tsp dried or fresh herbs (basil, thyme, oregano, parsley,…)
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- fresh mozzarella, 1/2 cup roughly, sliced
- a handful of toasted pine nuts
- a few olives to decorates

Directions

* Pre-heat oven to 425*
* Place the sliced tomatoes in a bowl with the olive oil, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. Let marinate for about 30 minutes to an hour.
* Preheat your oven to 425 F (220 C).
* Place the puff pastry sheet on a baking sheet. With a fork, poke some small hole in the puff pastry. Cover with the Dijon mustard.

* Remove tomatoes from the marinade. Leave as little oil as you can. Arrange them on the puff pastry, leaving at least a 1cm edge (1/2 inch). Don’t overload the pie with tomatoes (leave some space), otherwise your pie will be all soggy.
* Add the mozzarella chunks on top and sprinkle some pine nuts all over. Add a few olives on top.

* Place in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden.
Chicken Pot Pie

adapted from epicurious.com

1 sheet puff pastry. Cut puff pastry about 2 inches larger than your baking dish.

fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, bay leaf, basil, etc.)

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup diced celery

1 carrot

1/3 cup finely chopped shallots

1 clove garlic, finely minced

3 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast halves

1 cup whipping cream

1 10-ounce russet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 cup frozen peas

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 11×7-inch glass baking dish. Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface to 13×9-inch rectangle. Transfer to baking sheet and chill.

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add diced celery, carrots, garlic and shallots; sauté 5 minutes. Add broth and fresh herbs; bring to boil. Add chicken. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until chicken is just cooked through, about 12 minutes. Remove chicken. Increase heat to medium; boil mixture until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Add cream and return to boil. Add potato cubes; cover and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Remove bay leaves. Cut chicken into bite-size chunks and add to pan. Mix in peas. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour mixture into baking dish. Top with pastry; press overhang to sides of dish. Brush top of pastry with one tablespoon heavy cream. Bake until golden, about 35 minutes.

Palmiers

2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 sheets puff pastry

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Combine the sugar, cinnamon and kosher salt. Pour 1 cup of the sugar, cinnamon and salt mixture on a flat surface such as wooden board or marble. Unfold each sheet of puff pastry onto the sugar and pour 1/2 cup of the sugar mixture on top, spreading it evenly on the puff pastry. This is not about sprinkling, it’s about an even covering of sugar. With a rolling pin, roll the dough until it’s 13 by 13-inches square and the sugar is pressed into the puff pastry on top and bottom. Fold the sides of the square towards the center so they go halfway to the middle. Fold them again so the two folds meet exactly at the middle of the dough. Then fold 1 half over the other half as though closing a book. You will have 6 layers. Slice the dough into 3/8-inch slices and place the slices, cut side up, on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Place the second sheet of pastry on the sugared board, sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar mixture, and continue as above. (There will be quite a bit of sugar left over on the board.) Slice and arrange on baking sheets lined with parchment.

Bake the cookies for 6 minutes until caramelized and brown on the bottom, then turn with a spatula and bake another 3 to 5 minutes, until caramelized on the other side. Transfer to a baking rack to cool.

* The possibilities with palmiers are infinite. You can add citrus zests, vanilla, lavender, chocolate, candied citrus pieces, nuts, cocoa nibs etc. Or think of all the savory possibilities…. cheddar, parmesean, garlic, herbs…. so many delicious possibilities.

Tips for Super Success

  • Keep everything cold. Keeping the dough chilled as you work is important to the success of any puff pastry — otherwise, the butter melts and will no longer form distinct layers. Freeze both the flour and the butter before beginning. Also, keep your warm hands off the dough as much as possible. If the dough gets warm, chill it for at least 15 minutes before continuing.
  • Keep the dough neat for a uniform puff. Use a large rolling pin and roll evenly from open end to open end. Square off the sides with a rolling pin or pastry scraper as you work.
  • Bake the dough on a slightly dampened baking sheet. This holds down the underside of the dough as the rest puffs up. Bake in a very hot oven (about 450°F) for the initial puff and turn the heat down to finish.
  • Use a very sharp hot knife or pastry/pizza wheel to cut puff pastry, and be sure to cut straight down and not at an angle. Using a dull implement will fuse the layers together and thwart rising.
  • After you cut puff pastry, the side that was up when you cut should be down on the baking pan.
  • Save any scraps for other uses such as cookies, appetizer crisps, or decorations, but do not re-roll them together. Any re-rolled dough will not rise properly.
  • Never use a folded edge of puff pastry. All edges should be cut or it will not rise.
  • Brush off any bench flour with a soft, dry pastry brush before filling or cutting.
  • If you want to reduce the rise of puff pastry, prick it all over with a fork to allow steam to escape.
  • Puff pastry may be baked first and then filled or filled and then baked.
  • All fillings should be at room temperature to avoid premature melting of the puff pastry buttery layers.
 

19 Responses to “Be afraid no more.”

  1. Aran

    puff pastry is one of those things that i love to make. i love the process and i love the versatility. i have tried plain and chocolate and now i’m set to experiment with other flavors. and the palmiers look great!

    Reply
  2. Kendra

    Recipe jackpot!! I love palmiers, so thanks for the reminder to go home and make them. I’ve never made my own puff pastry, but you’ve made it really accessible. Thanks for sharing this with us!

    Reply
  3. artisansweets

    Thanks for all the great comments. To those of you who are still afraid (MangerLaVille – I am talking to you and I am sure there are many others) stayed tuned for visual instructions. If you are like me visuals are a necessity when learning something new.

    Reply
  4. Jenni

    Great post; very informative. I often make blitz puff rather than puff, especially if it’s not going to be the “star” of the show, like for a Tarte Tatin.

    Reply
  5. Kay

    How do you get your palmiers to keep their butterfly shape? Mine expand so much that they spring apart at the center and I end up with a semi palmier shaped blob.

    Reply
  6. Krupa Naik

    I was always fascinated by puff pastry, but never daring to try one.But now I think I will…..

    Reply

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