Saturday, August 18, 2012

Puff Pastry

Puff Pastry Scraps. Light and crisp.
I probably should have realized when I was making puff pastry as a teenager, that I had a deep passion for food and the making of it. This recipe from The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (published in 1962) is the recipe that taught me how to laminate dough. My first attempts at croissants shortly afterward were unsuccessful, but with this recipe, I tasted success.
My mom would often purchase the Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Apple Turnovers. They came frozen in a paper bag within the box, and they were unbaked. I was absolutely fascinated with how they went from these pale, flat rectangles, into a browned, puffed, crisp and tender work of edible art.  I don't think I liked eating the apple filling, but would tear away chunks of the puff pastry and let it melt on my tongue. It was a virtual culinary miracle, one that I discovered I could reproduce.
I haven't made puff pastry in eons, but I found this page from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook today, and was inspired to neglect my housecleaning for this. It's no wonder my house is a constant cluttered mess, but at least we are well-fed.
The recipe I've typed out for you is my adaptation of the recipe in the page pictured. I apologize for the back and forth about the stand mixer and the bowl. I use a Kitchen Aid, but I try to realize that all of my readers do not. If you ever have any questions about a step where I mention a stand mixer and you don't have one, please comment below or email me, and I'll do my best to answer your questions.

Puff Pastry


Reserve 2 tablespoons butter in the refrigerator. 
Cut remaining butter into 1/4 inch slices. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, working with a wooden spoon) mix chilled butter slices on low until it's "as pliable as putty." With a silicone spatula, scoop butter out onto a large piece of wax or parchment paper and form into a 1/4-inch thick, 8x6 inch rectangle. If you have an offset spatula, you might want to use that instead of the silicone spatula. Wrap butter rectangle in the wax paper and chill for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator or 20 minutes in the freezer.
Cut reserved 2 tablespoons butter into 1/4 inch slices. In the bowl of the stand mixer, place the flour. With the paddle attachment (or with a pastry blender if you're using a regular bowl), mix in the reserved butter until mixture is like coarse meal. Switch to the dough hook and gradually add ice water. Kneed on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 15x9 inch rectangle.  Carefully unwrap butter rectangle and place on top or bottom half of the dough rectangle. Fold over the other half of dough to cover the butter. Seal the edges with the side of your hand. Roll dough into a 15x9 inch rectangle again. Roll from the center out. With a clean pastry brush, brush any excess flour from the surface. Fold in thirds. Turn dough and fold in thirds again. Dough is now in 9 layers.
Seal edges with the side of your hand. Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill thoroughly, at least 1 hour in the refrigerator or 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat rolling, folding, and chilling 2 more times.

Now that you have your puff pastry dough, you can roll it to  3/8-inch thickness and make some other things like Napoleons, Dutch Letters, fruit turnovers, cute shapes to serve with chicken pot pie soup, like Jason's Deli does. See Pepperidge Farms website for lots of ideas on how to use puff pastry.

Butter rectangle. I drew an 8x6 inch rectangle
on the other side of the wax paper.

Butter rectangle on dough. I use my quilting ruler
to measure when baking things like this.
Dough with butter layers inside, ready to chill.
Puff pastry dough rolled out.
This dough is magical.

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