PUFF PASTRY is often thought of as the most difficult of French pastry doughs. And, in fact, it is a long, drawn-out procedure that involves rolling and rerolling a flour and water dough with a block of butter to produce the more than one thousand individual layers of dough and butter that, when baked, rise to produce flaky layers of pastry.
In between all the rolling, the dough must rest to relax the elasticity built up while rolling. It is these resting times that make classic puff pastry so time consuming.
A second method, which makes what is called rapid, rough, or half-puff pastry, shortens the resting time considerably. The butter, instead of being kept completely separated between layers of dough, is interspaced in chunks throughout the dough. This creates much less elasticity. The dough, which looks very rough at first, can be rolled without resting and used shortly thereafter. The end results are so good that I rarely teach the classic version anymore.
If you have an ounce/gram scale, you can make this pastry in any quantity desired. Use equal weights of flour and butter, and the amount of water is half the weight of the flour. Use only a small amount of salt so the pastry can be used for savory as well as dessert recipes.
Because of the quantity of butter involved, working on a cold surface is important for success. If you don’t have a large plastic pastry board (about 16 x 20 inches) to chill, fill one or two large roasting pans with ice and place them on your countertop to chill it.
Using plastic wrap, as I do to initially form the pastry, alleviates the need to handle it with warm hands, and makes the beginning stages of making the pastry less sticky.