23 January 2012

Putting the Puff in Pastry

I don't know about you, but when I decide to indulge in the calories that Puff Pastry brings to the table, I want those calories to come from butter.

Not oil.

Not shortening.

And I want my Puff Pastry to be additive-free, thank you.

I was so happy to find an all-butter version at Trader Joe's a while back.  I booked a catering job soon after my discovery and designed a couple of items on my menu around it.  But as sometimes happens with Trader Joe's, the Puff Pastry disappeared from the case.  Not one box found in any store within 15 miles of me!  Their explanation? Puff Pastry is a seasonal item!  When exactly is Puff Pastry season??  I'm gonna have to mark my calendar.  Mind you this is kinda the "go-to" response I get from them from time to time.  Irritated, I set out to find all-butter Puff Pastry somewhere else.  I went to five different stores before I found it.  I nearly passed-out when I saw the price!!

Flash-forward to the solution--making my own.

I've made laminated dough before with all the folding and turning and chilling.  It's not difficult to do, but it is a time sucker.  I don't know about you, but spending the better part of a day babysitting dough is not how I want to spend my time. 

I'm happy to report that I have a recipe that makes all-butter Puff Pastry for a fraction of the cost in under 2 hours--including chill time! 

"Jennifer, this sounds too good to be true.  I'm skeptical."

Friends, I wouldn't steer you wrong.  I promise it's true.

What Happened:
It was easy to put together especially because I could weigh it.  Believe it or not, weighing is usually faster than measuring AND the results are more consistent.

Maybe I'm weird, but I love the feel of dough.  It's airy and soft and just makes me happy.  This dough is beautiful and silky especially after you layer in the butter.

It's easy to roll out too.  The butter didn't break through or squirt out.  If it does ever break through the dough don't panic, just cover the butter patch with flour and do another turn.

The coolest thing I discovered was that the second, larger addition of butter was perfectly softened by the time the dough ball was assembled and rested so I didn't have to pre-plan and pull the butter out early or try to soften it in the microwave.  Yay!

Things I Would Change:
I upped the salt a tish.  It was just a little flat for me and the salt helps to highlight the luxurious creamy butter flavor.

The Results:
Flaky, crispy, fast.

From just one recipe I made an amazing Tomato Tart Tatin, creamy Chicken Stew Cups and Quick Apple Tarts.

I know what's in this dough and it cost less than $2.00 to make!

Double the recipe and freeze it.  It will also keep in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Say it with me: Fake Puff Pastry No More!!

Quick Puff Pastry

245 g              flour (scant 2 c)

¾ t                  kosher salt

48 g                butter, chilled & cubed (3T)

130 ml            cold water (5 oz)

240g               butter, softened (1 stick + 1T)

Combine flour, salt and butter in a mixing bowl.  Rub together the butter and flour until it looks like bread crumbs.  Make a well in the center and add the water.   

Cut the dough together with a knife.   

When the flour absorbs all the water, ball the mixture, wrap it in plastic and chill for 25 minutes.

Pat the dough ball into a disk and score an "X" into the dough with a knife cutting half way through.   

Pull the x-center out into flaps creating a square.   

Cut the softened butter in half lengthwise.  

Put the butter into the center of the square and use the flaps to bundle the butter making sure to overlap the dough.

Roll out dough so that its length is 3 times the width.  

Fold up the bottom 1/3 of the dough to the center and pull the top down to cover the lower 1/3.   

Turn 90 degrees, roll out fold and repeat.

Chill until ready to use (or freeze).  

Once the dough is cut and shaped for your dish, chill it again to get maximum puff.

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