I jumped a few sections in my book of The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts since I had been focusing most of my energy on tarts (fresh fruit tarts and the classic French apple tart), and I decided to learned how to make puff pastry dough!
|Deliciously addicting paillettes (cheese straws)|
made from puff pastry dough
You start out making a typical dough mixture (flour, butter, salt, and water) and then get a big hunk of butter which you pound out to be approximately the same dimensions as the dough. I started using a rolling pin to flatten out the butter, but it was so cold that the rolling pin wasn't doing too much damage...so I switched to a meat tenderizer! Of course I used the flat, hammer-like side of the mallet in order to not puncture the plastic wrap that was holding the butter, but this method proved much more effective than a rolling pin, especially when you want to keep the butter cold (which you do).
Now it's time to "package" the giant slab of butter inside the dough as if you were going to mail it away ("Oh, what's this? A giant slab of butter from my dear friend Amanda? How kind of her!" -- check your mailboxes for this). The dough is rolled out such that there's a nice thick square the size of the slab o' butter, but there are also four flaps on each side of the square. The butter is placed in the center of the dough and the four flaps fold over the butter to prevent any butter from escaping when this "package" is rolled flat.
This square is then rolled into a long flat rectangle 22 inches long, tri-folded to make a square, re-rolled to 22 inches long, tri-folded again, wrapped in plastic wrap, and refrigerated for an hour. This process is done a total of 3 times. Each time the dough is rolled out and re-folded is called a turn. You want a total of 6 turns to make the end product extra flaky.
You can't really see it in the picture, but there are lots of butter layers within the dough. Actually I calculated it to be a whopping 729 layers (!!!) of buttery goodness just waiting to melt and make the most delicious pastries :)
|A slice of the final (dough) product|
Overall, not too difficult. I had a few moments rolling out my dough where the outside layer seemed to be a little too thin so the butter tried to escape, but otherwise it wasn't bad. I definitely recommend taking on the puff pastry dough...or convincing a friend or family member to do it at least so you can enjoy the tasty results!
Pate Feuilletee (Puff Pastry Dough) Recipe:
From The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts by The French Culinary Institute
For the Dough:
125 g cake flour
125 g bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 tsp. salt
35 g unsalted butter, softened
For the barrage (slab o' butter):
250 g unsalted butter, cold