Quick Puff Pastry


Recently I had a discussion with several fellow cooks who said they don’t mind using frozen puff pastry because handmade puff pastry is labor intensive and difficult.  As a pastry chef I was, of course, completely against that idea, so I’m offering my recipe for quick puff pastry.  This entire process took me less than two hours, including baking.  With a dough is as simple as this there is no reason to purchase an inferior product.  It’s a lot to write, but really only three steps – it’s all in the timing.  

Quick Puff Pastry
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Total Time
2 min
Total Time
2 min
Ingredients
  1. 16 ounces bread flour
  2. 2 teaspoons salt
  3. 12 ounces butter, cold
  4. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  5. 8 ounces water, cold
Instructions
  1. First, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Next cut the butter into 1" cubes.
  3. Toss the butter into the flour to coat completely.
  4. Drizzle the oil into the bowl and toss to blend.
  5. Finally, pour the cold water into the bowl and start swirling everything together. It should be a messy mass of dough at first gradually hydrating until it is a smooth dough with giant blocks of butter.
  6. Remove from the bowl and start shaping the dough. The truly important part of puff pastry is the dough's thickness. It should be 1/2" thick each time you roll it before folding. The dough should always have a predominantly rectangular shape which will accommodate laminations better. I recommend using a 8" wide portion then rolling as long as necessary to achieve that 1/2" thickness.
  7. The initial fold is tricky because those giant blocks of butter don't incorporate well. Instead, press the dough out with the rolling pin by leaning into the dough with your weight. This will require ample amounts of flour. Be sure to brush the flour off as you laminate, but when rolling use as much as you need.
  8. Once it's close to the desired thickness and mostly a rectangle, start rolling your pin over the dough to level the surface.
  9. Fold the top edge of the dough down onto itself at about 30% of it's length.
  10. Next fold the bottom up the 70% to meet the seam of the top fold.
  11. Finally, fold this onto itself in half. This is called the book. When turned to the side, there should be four definite layers of dough and two offset seams inside your book.
  12. If the dough is still cool and doesn't rebound when you press it with your finger, roll again to a rectangle with a thickness of 1/2 inch and prepare to fold again.
  13. This time fold the dough as you would a business letter destined for an envelope. Fold the top down to about 66%, then fold the bottom up and over that to create another lamination.
  14. Gently press the dough together and indent the dough with your fingers to remember how many laminations have occurred. A book fold is two dimples, a business letter is a single.
  15. Store this dough, wrapped, in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  16. Remove the dough from the freezer and start pressing the dough with the pin again. If you just start rolling there is a high chance you will ripple or break all that butter and not have puff pastry.
  17. Press and roll the dough out again to another 8" wide rectangle with a length enough to create 1/2" thickness.
  18. This time brush the dough with some icy cold water before folding. It will keep the dough soft and enhance the amount of steam later on.
  19. Fold like the book-style fold above- 30/70 then in half.
  20. Dimple and wrap the dough and return to the freezer for another 10 minutes.
  21. Prepare the dough as before, press and roll, brush with icy water, then fold like a business letter. Make sure everything is smooth and clean.
  22. When the final book is finished, the dough should be uniform and clean as opposed to the chunky mess we started with.
  23. Now chill the dough for immediate shaping or freeze until needed at a later time. If using immediately, chill the dough 20 minutes under refrigeration.
  24. Roll this dough out to 1/4" thick layer and ensure it isn't clinging to your surface.
  25. Cut the dough with very sharp cutters or knives and be sure to use a chopping or slapping motion. If you slice or twist when cutting, the layers will seal together and keep the dough from its full potential.
  26. If you want an even flaky layer to be thinner, prick the dough with a fork evenly, or use a dough docker to create vents for the steam.
  27. Decoratively score the dough if desired and bake in a 425F oven until completely puffed and dry.
  28. If you are baking for a long time, after the edges get very dark, drop the temperature of the oven to 325F and dry out the pastry completely.
  29. Allow to cool completely on a sheet pan as the dough is fragile when warm.
Notes
  1. Quick puff is perfect for savory dishes like beef wellington, fish en croute, pigs-in-a-blanket, and so on. In pastry, quick puff provides a crunchy, salty contrast that most dishes need. Palmier, tart shells, mille-feuille, arlettes - the sky's the limit!
Joe the Baker http://www.joe-the-baker.com/

About Joe the Baker

Joe the Baker is a classically-trained pastry chef who specializes in French macarons and viennoiserie. He currently sells his delicious confections online, at the Coppell Farmers Market, and at DFW-area gourmet grocers.

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