The thing that makes puff pastry unique is the way it is folded, known as laminating. Like croissants the dough is folded around the butter numerous times, creating layers, which result in a flakier pastry. It is perfect for making both savoury and sweet products — at the bakery we use it mostly for sausage rolls, pie lids and galettes. If you want to use puff pastry for a product you will need to start making it a day or two in advance.
Remove the cubed butter from the refrigerator 20 minutes before you start mixing — the butter should be just soft but still very cold so it doesn’t melt through the pastry while still mixing.
If you are mixing the pastry by hand, mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl and toss through the butter. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour to partly combine. Turn out onto a clean work surface and gather together. Combine the vinegar with the chilled water and sprinkle over the flour mixture. Knead gently to form a smooth dough.
If you are using a food processor, put the butter, flour and salt into the bowl of the food processor and pulse on high for about 30 seconds, or until the mixture resembles sand. Combine the vinegar with the chilled water and add to the bowl, pulsing in 3–4 bursts until you have a smooth dough.
Flatten the pastry into a round, flat disc about
Before laminating, or folding, the pastry, remove the extra butter from the refrigerator — it should be cold but malleable. Use a rolling pin to gently pound the butter between sheets of baking paper into a
Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured work surface to make a
Turn the pastry 90 degrees and begin to roll it away from you in even strokes. When you have a
Repeat this folding process three more times to make four folds in total. Each time you roll the pastry, place it on the bench with the ‘book spine’ edge running at 90 degrees to the front of the bench on the left-hand side; this will ensure you are rotating the pastry 90 degrees each time you roll and fold it. Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes between each fold to allow the gluten to relax, otherwise it will be hard to roll and the pastry will be more likely to shrink when baked. Some chefs prefer to make the first two folds then rest the pastry overnight in the refrigerator, doing the final two folds 24 hours later. This method results in more defined layers and is preferable if time and refrigerator space permits. If you use this method, be sure to allow the pastry to sit out of the refrigerator for about 30 minutes after the overnight period to allow it to become malleable again. After the laminating is complete, a 24-hour rest in the refrigerator is again preferable to stop shrinkage. After this time, the dough is best used within 1 day or frozen, as it discolours very quickly.
Remove the pastry from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you wish to roll it. Sprinkle
Refrigerate the pastry for at least 30 minutes before cutting into the desired shapes. When cutting, drag a sharp knife across the pastry rather than using a downward action — this stops the edge of the pastry becoming crushed, which would result in poor rising and loss of all the beautiful layers you have spent hours folding into the pastry.
If you are making pie lids, use a round pastry cutter to cut out circles for them, making sure they have a diameter that is at least
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