Time to stop talking about chickens, and start talking about pastry. Puff pastry is a pretty magnificent creation. If you’re not familiar with puff pastry, it is a ton of super thin sheets of dough separated by a ton of super thin sheets of butter. When rolled out, sliced, and baked, the butter begins to steam, separating the layers of dough and crisping them up. This is totally incredible. Unfortunately, most puff pastry purchased at the grocery store is made with a combination of butter and palm oil, or straight-up palm oil. It doesn’t taste as good. All-butter puff pastry can be acquired, but a tiny bit costs like $13, and frankly, if it’s something that I can make myself in bulk and save 90%, I’m gonna go that route. Last time I made puff pastry for croissants, I went through it so quickly that I deeply regretted not having made more. As the weather has finally begun cooling down in the Seattle area, I have started putting stuff up for winter – starting with several pounds of puff pastry. Photos indicate a quadruple batch, although you may find that making each batch separately is an easier proposition. I certainly did.
Adapted from Nick Malgieri Puff Pastry
- 2.5 cups unbleached AP flour – about 12.5 oz
- .75 cup cake flour – about 3 oz
- 1 stick butter, 4 oz, cold
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1 cup + 2 Tbsp very cold water
- .25 cup unbleached AP flour, about 1.25 oz
- 1 sticks butter – 1lb, cold
Mix the dough
- Place the flours in a 3 quart bowl and whisk thoroughly to combine evenly and break up lumps.
- Slice butter into thin pieces and add to bowl
- Rub the butter in by hand, squeezing and breaking up each piece. The mixture should look homogeneous with no visible chunks of butter remaining
- Stir the salt into the cold water to dissolve, make a well in the flour mixture and add the butter. Using a rubber spatula, scrape across the bottom of the bowl and through the center of the dough. Turn and continue scraping until a ropy dough is formed. Don’t apply any pressure to the dough with the spatula
- If the dough seems dry, add more cold water a tablespoon at a time. Don’t worry if it is a little dry. Cover the bowl and set it aside (in the fridge if you have room) while you prepare the butter.
Prep the butter
- Place your .25 cup flour on your work surface and roll the sticks of butter in it. If you have a wooden rolling pin and don’t mind hammering directly on your counter use that. If you have granite counters and a marble rolling pin, maybe take some precautions. I used a large plastic cutting board and a metal meat mallet and it worked fine.
- Pound each stick of butter with your mallet until flattish. Stack, coat in flour, and pound together. Fold, coat in flour, pound again. Continue pounding and folding until the butter has become malleable and the flour has all been incorporated. Shape into a square approximately 1 inch thick.
Form your dough package
- Flour your work surface and pour your dough out onto it. Form into a rough square(about an inch thick) and don’t be concerned that it’s not holding together smoothly. Turn dough 45 degrees and roll each of the corners out into thin flaps.
- Place the butter square on the dough so that the corners of the butter are evenly between flaps. Fold the flaps over without stretching and make sure that no butter is exposed. This may mean that you need to pinch together little bits. Do it.
Roll it, Roll it good
- Flour the work surface and the dough and begin rolling out. For me, the most effective way is making a few horizontal taps along the surface of the dough to kind of hammer it flat with the rolling pin, then rolling.
- Make sure that the dough remains floured and does not stick to the surface. Roll the dough into a long rectangle about 3/9-1/4″ thick. Try to keep the corners square.
Fold the dough
- Fold both ends of the dough in towards the center, then fold the dough in half.
- Turn the dough 90 degrees and begin to roll out again.
- Once you’ve reached 3/8-1/4″ thick again, repeat the folding process again
- Roll once more time, fold, and set the dough aside, preferably on a baking sheet that you have made room in your refrigerator for. If you’re making more than one batch, complete the remaining batches through this step. I usually make all of my dough, all of my butter, then go from dough package through refrigerator ready with each batch separately.
Chill your dough, lather, rinse, repeat
- Place your dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour and a half.
- Remove from refrigerator and complete 2 more roll-and-fold scenarios
- Chill it again for at least an hour and a half, and then roll and fold twice more.
- Roll to about 1/2″ thick and cut off and set aside any unsightly ends (there is a use for these). Cut each rectangle into 2 pieces (I separate mine with parchment) and place into gallon sized freezer bags or foodsaver bags (I prefer foodsavers, but they’re totally not necessary.)
- Chill the dough in the refrigerator stored completely flat. If vacuum sealing, freeze before sealing so that the dough doesn’t deform under vacuum. Label, freeze solid until ready to use
Use the dough
- To use, remove dough from freezer and set on a flat surface in the refrigerator for a few days (you know how long it takes things to defrost in your fridge). Roll out, and use in any recipe calling for puff pastry. If cutting, use a sharp knife.
To use the trimmed-off ends of the puff pastry, line them up and roll them out together. Sprinkle with some sugar, spread with nutella, or anything else that you can think of that isn’t too bulky (maybe parmesan cheese and pesto or sun dried tomatoes?). Roll up into a log. Chill thoroughly (I actually like to freeze the log for 20 minutes or so) and slice into pinwheels. Place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake at 400F for 20 minutes, or until the palmiers have puffed a little, the edges are browned, and the center looks cooked.