Puff Pastry

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    1

    quantity

Appears in

Bourke Street Bakery

By Paul Allam and David McGuinness

Published 2009

  • About

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.

Ingredients

  • 135 g ( oz) unsalted butter, cut into 1.5 cm (⅝ inch) cubes, chilled
  • 675 g (1 lb 8 oz/ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, chilled
  • 20 g (¾ oz/1 tablespoon) salt
  • 20 ml (½ fl oz/1 tablespoon) vinegar, chilled
  • 300 ml (10½ fl oz) water, chilled
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) unsalted butter, extra, for laminating, chilled

Method

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 2 cm (¾ inch) thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or overnight.

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 20 cm (8 inch) flat square about 1 cm (½ inch) thick.

Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured work surface to make a 20 x 40 cm (8 x 16 inch) rectangle. Place the butter at one end of the pastry and fold the other end over to completely enclose the butter.

Turn the pastry 90 degrees and begin to roll it away from you in even strokes. When you have a 20 x 90 cm (8 x 35½ inch) rectangle, fold in both ends to meet in the middle. Fold the pastry in half again to close it, as if you were closing a book — look at the pastry and visualise the spine of the book on one side and the pages on the other. Dust the pastry lightly with flour, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This completes the first fold.

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 a little flour on the bench and over the rolling pin. Working from the centre of the pastry, gently roll it away from you, then turn the pastry about 45 degrees and roll out again. Repeat this process until you have a flat rectangular or square disc about 5 mm (¼ inch) thick.

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 1 cm (½ inch) larger than the base of the tin, so that you can easily attach them and seal.

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