I gotta be honest guys – homemade puff pastry is one of those things that I thought only crazy people did. It seemed so fussy and in general not-worth-it that it wasn’t on my radar of things that I thought I may one day want to try making. But then I made 16 pies for a friend’s wedding (more on that later) and as a result of totally overlooking an entire Costco pack (4lbs) of butter, had some extra that needed a cause. By happenstance, I stumbled across a tutorial on making your own puff pastry, and it looked so easy. That, combined with the preposterous cost of all-butter puff pastry at the grocery store (our normal store doesn’t even carry it, it has to be purchased for like $18 at a specialty market) convinced me to give it a shot. The worst that could happen? I’d be out $10 in butter and $1 in flour, and I’d have gotten it out of my system. So I went for it. I dug through my cookbooks. Nobody has recipes for puff pastry, because people don’t usually make it from scratch. Nobody but Nick Malgieri! It’s in the book Perfect Pastry. The book came to me in a cache of hand-me-downs from Craig’s aunt, and I am SO pleased to have it. I did a lot of web searching to see if I could located the recipe online, and have thus far been entirely unsuccessful. He has a “quick” puff pastry recipe, which is not the same thing. Don’t be fooled. Anyway, I’ll just give you the rundown.
- Make a loose shaggy dough out of all purpose and cake flour, a stick of butter, and some water.
- Pound a pound of butter with a little flour into a block. Most people use wooden rolling pins. Mine is marble and I’m clumsy, so I just used the smooth side of a meat mallet. This takes a while but eventually it works. The purpose of this is to soften up the butter without warming it up. Making it as pliable as the dough ensures that the pastry rolls out evenly.
- Encapsulate the butter block in the dough. Roll out in a rectangle shape. Fold the long ends in towards the center, then fold it in half, like a book.
- Roll it out in a rectangle shape again, fold the long ends in towards the center, then fold it in half, like a book.
- Chill for 2 hours. Repeat rolling and folding process 2x.
- Lather, rinse, repeat.
- Pat yourself on the back. You now have over 4,000 layers of butter.
For each “batch,” cut the ugly edges off, and then cut it in half. Wrap in 2 layers of plastic wrap, and chill, then if you made way more than sane people should be using at once, like I did (if I’m going to the effort of making puff pastry from scratch, I’m going to make a LOT of it) either pack in freezer paper, stick in a freezer bag, or vacuum seal, and freeze for 3-9 months (you be the judge of how much you trust your freezer burn prevention skills). When you’re ready to make croissants, pull a block out and allow to defrost (totally flat, and preferably without being smushed by other stuff) in the refrigerator for a few days.
Chocolate Croissants (makes 6-7)
.5 batch of Nick Malgieri’s Puff Pastry
.5-.75 cup chopped quality dark chocolate
1 egg, beaten
- Preheat oven to 425f
- Roll out the dough into a long rectangle.
- Using a knife, pizza cutter, or bench scraper, cut the rectangle into triangles, notching the back of them.
- Lay a line of chocolate at the top of the notch and, spreading the “legs,” roll the croissant from the wide end to the point.
- Curl the arms in a little bit if desired.
- Place on parchment lined baking sheet
- Beat egg and brush over croissants.
- Place in oven and set timer for 15 minutes
- After 15 minutes has passed, rotate pan if your oven browns unevenly (mine does). Give it another 15 minutes. Look at the browning and decide whether you’re satisfied with it. My first go-round, I didn’t want to chance it and they were a little bit anemic looking (see pics above) I didn’t get any nice photos of them, so I made another batch the other night and took the photo below. Much better. That was an additional 15 minutes in the oven.