For any recipe calling for puff pastry, you can always use store-bought puff pastry to save time, but there are very few puff-pastry doughs you can buy that will taste as good as one that you make at home, especially if you use a high-quality butter (you will taste the difference).

When forming a puff pastry, the butter block should have approximately the same consistency as the dough after the dough is rested. You don’t want the butter rock hard, but it shouldn’t be mushy-soft either. You may need to adjust chilling times to get the correct consistency. The brushing with ice water during assembly is a technique that was first brought to our attention by Shirley Corriher. It greatly reduces chilling time, and therefore rolling time, plus a touch of water added to the dough promotes better puffing. Thank you, Shirley—it is a twist of brilliance.

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Ingredients

For the Butter Block

  • 1 pound cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup (125g) flour

For the Dough Ball

  • 3 ½ cups (440g) flour, or more as needed
  • ¼ cup (½ stick / 57g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons salt

For the Assembly

  • Flour, for dusting work surface
  • Ice water, for brushing dough

Method

Directions

  1. Make the butter block: In a mixer with a beater blade attached, combine all the butter block ingredients and beat well until very smooth.
  2. Transfer the mixture onto a sheet of wax paper. Form it into a rough 6-by-6-inch (15-by-15-cm) block. Lay another piece of wax paper on top, smooth out the square, and straighten the sides. After the block’s sides and thickness are even, refrigerate until nearly firm, about 1 hour.
  3. Make the dough ball: Place the flour in a bowl, and pinch the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Make a well in the center of the flour. Add the salt and 1 cup (240ml) cold water into the well. With a fork, use a whisking motion to gradually incorporate the sides of the well into the water. When a solid mass starts to form, finish incorporating the flour by kneading with your hands. Incorporate just until the dough has a rough texture and comes together into a ball.
  5. Form the dough into an even ball. Flatten the ball a bit, then cut a cross halfway through the dough. Pull the corners out to make the ball into a square. Wrap the dough and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  6. To assemble: Remove the butter block and the dough ball from the fridge. Place the dough block on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to a square slightly larger than the butter block.
  7. Place the butter block diagonally on top of the dough square, so that each butter corner is pointed at the middle of a dough side. Fold the dough corners over the butter block to completely envelop the butter. Pinch the seams tightly together to seal in the butter.
  8. Dust your work surface with more flour, and roll the dough into a rectangle about ½ inch (12mm) thick. Dust with flour whenever needed to keep the dough from sticking and the layers from tearing.
  9. Brush the surface of the dough with ice water, then visually size up your rectangle into thirds. Fold one third over the middle, then fold the opposite third over, just like a trifold brochure. All the edges should match fairly closely.
  10. Roll the dough out to a ½-inch (12-mm) thick rectangle and brush with ice water. Repeat the trifold process. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  11. Roll the dough out to a ½-inch (12-mm) thick rectangle. Brush with ice water and trifold. Repeat the rolling, brushing, and trifolding once more.
  12. After the last fold, if using the puff pastry dough immediately, cover it, allow to rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes, then use as needed. The dough will keep, refrigerated, for up to 5 days. For longer storage, cut the dough into large sections (usually thirds) that still fit easily in your freezer layer with wax paper between sections, place in a sealable freezer bag, and freeze until needed.

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