The ubiquitous puff, those flakey layers, a crunchy bite that shatters into a 1000 layers. Not forgetting the melted texture of butter on the tongue. So many things to love and yet rarely do we make it from scratch (because let’s face it, it can be a bit of a pain.)
I’m in serious practice mode for my upcoming pastry prac tests and with the silly season approaching (fast) I figure there’s no harm in having a few extra tricks up your sleeve to show off!
For those of you in the cooler months, this is the perfect flakey crust to take that bowl of soup or stew, to the next level.
If you’re heading into the summer like moi then these spring days are your last opportunity before true beach weather hits and you no longer want to see your oven, let alone bake in it!
You might be asking, why so much butter? Well the idea is for the layers of fat to get trapped between the dough, rolling layer upon layer and finally the steam (water from the butter) tries to escape and puffs up beautifully between the dough. This is full puff, it’s not for the faint hearted!
Added bonus is that if you do decide to make this from scratch, you can control the butter and (pull it back) so it doesn’t end up oily or greasy like some commercial brands.
This recipe is versatile in that it works for sweet or savouries. There’s some delicious apple rounds, cheese twists and a (simplified version) of the infamous Mille-Feuille. All of this from one sheet of home made puff pastry!
Plus a little vanilla lovin’ in there too….
I promise I’m here to show you that it can be done. With a little patience and time, you’ll have a full sheet of pastry that’s so buttery, so crisp and so delicate it’ll make you cry with joy when you finally sink your teeth into it and you will exclaim… “I made this!!!”
The original recipe from my school notes called for 250g of butter. I’ve narrowed this back and used approx 200g. It results in a much less oily dough which is easier to work and leaves less residue on the baking sheets.
*Tip* you can start this pastry the day before and prepare it to final rolling stage. I rested mine overnight and came back to it the next day. This will help in the time management and could be useful during the holiday season where you can make your full puff ahead and then bake your treats as you need them!
Full Puff Pastry,
200g cold butter,
250g strong flour, plus extra flour to dust as needed
105-110ml of acidulated cold water, to which you added a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar,
additional ingredients for toppings outlined below…
I’m using western star butter today, simply because it comes in 100g blocks and makes it easier for measuring out. Keep 180g aside and leave at room temp, use 20g for rubbing into the flour to start the puff.
You’ll also need some kitchen scales, a timer, mixing bowl, rolling pin, sharp knife, cling wrap and measuring cup.
For the actual baking some trays, baking paper and a long spatula or palette knife for handling the pastry, plus clean mitts!
Rub 20g of the butter into the flour until it resembles dry sand,
Pour in the acidulated water and mix until combined. The dough should leave the sides of the bowl cleanly.
Knead lightly on the bench until the dough forms a smooth ball, wrap with cling film and leave to rest for 20-25 mins at room temp. (This is a good time to remove the remaining butter from the fridge.
Lightly dust the bench using the minimal amount of flour. Cut a cross through the dough and pull out the corners to form a star. Smooth out the edges with the rolling pin, being careful not to roll the centre of the cross too thin.
Place the butter into the centre and fold over the corners. Make sure to pinch the edges together to prevent the butter from escaping.
*tip* you want the dough and butter to be at the same consistency when you begin to roll it out. If the butter is too soft and difficult to manage, pop it back into the fridge to firm up.
Dust and flour your rolling pin & carefully roll the packet out to flatten it slightly, gently distributing the butter through the centre of the dough.
Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for another 20 mins.
Re-flour your rolling pin and dust the bench lightly, turn the pastry so the open edges are towards you and gently roll the dough out.
Fold the flaps into the centre creating a book shape (at this point the open edges are away from you) and turn the dough again, so the open ends face you.
This is a full turn.
Using your thumb put two indentations into the dough, (it is your reminder of how many full & half turns the dough will have,) which will eventuate in all those flakey layers.
For each full turn you do, re-wrap the pastry in cling film and set aside in the fridge to rest (before you proceed with re rolling it.)
I set my timer for 20 minute intervals each time, that’s approximately 60-80 minutes resting time all up.
**Remember each time to roll with the open ends of the book facing you, then turn it and mark with your thumbprint.**
As you keep rolling, you’ll also notice the dough getting smoother. Also dust lightly with flour (preferably) dusting the rolling pin before the bench.
Repeat these steps, being careful to mark how many turns you do, until you have 6 full turns & a single 1/2 turn aka (6 and a half, thumb prints)
You may now set aside the pastry until you plan to use it. Allow the dough to rest for a minimum of 1/2hr before shaping if you prefer to use it on the same day it’s made.
Here’s a little job you can do whilst you’re waiting during those intervals:
1 cup cream, two tsps of icing cigar and half a vanilla pod scraped. Beat in a mixing bowl or (whisk) until thick and firm, cover with cling film and set aside until use. I like to keep the left over vanilla pods in my icing sugar to infuse for latter use too.
(Simplified) Mille Feuille with jam:
You’ll need a sheet of Greaseproof paper (turned into a piping bag) & filled it with a few tbsp of Jam, I’m using Bonne Maman blackberry jam,
Creme chantilly & piping bag (optional,)
Icing sugar to dust.
Cut some pastry into 5-7cm rectangles. Place the the pastry squares on a baking sheet and tray and bake in a hot oven at 220C (458F) for 10 mins.
Flip the pastry over and weigh it down with a smaller tray (and some pie weights or rice.) Continue to cook for a further 3-5 minutes, then set aside on a rack to cool.
Once the pastry is cool, pipe some jam over the pastry rectangle and pipe or fill with the creme chantilly. Cover with a second pastry rectangle and dust some icing sugar over the top to serve.
1 apple, (I’ve used a Granny Smith today.)
Few drops of Lemon juice
A tsp of raw sugar for each round,
Butter to dot the tops
Using a cup or pastry stamp, mark each circle of the pastry and set aside on a baking sheet and tray. Cut the apple widthways to get rounds, sprinkle liberally with lemon juice & raw sugar.
Arrange on top of each pastry round and bake for 10 mins in a hot oven at 220C or 458F.
Set aside to cool and dust with a little icing sugar to finish.
A handful of grated Parmesan (or gruyere,)
1.5 tbsp of Tomato paste or tomato sauce (depending on what you have in your pantry)
I made these cheese twists by piecing together my scraps, after the Mille Feuille and apple rounds were cut off, no waste!
Simply brush the pastry sheets with the tomato, sprinkle with the cheese and cut into strips. Using your fingers twist the end of each pastry strip and lay on a baking sheet & tray. Bake in a hot oven at 200C, 458F for 15 mins until golden brown and crisp all over. Devour whilst still hot, and you can thank me later!