This isn’t as hard to make as its reputation holds. You can drink a cup of herbal tea in between each chilling time and get on with whatever you are doing. The result is soft, wonderful, layered, buttery and well worth it. Incidentally this recipe comes from Olga, the Ukrainian-Polish housekeeper who was looking after
Pile the flour in a heap in a wide bowl and add the salt. Put the butter around the outside of the flour, tossing it very lightly in the outskirts to lightly coat. Make a well in the centre of the flour and carefully pour in the water, working it in with one hand as you pour but without incorporating any butter. Keep mixing with your hand in a stirring motion until you have a soft dough. Now, use both hands to work in the butter. If it seems to be melting before it is incorporated, use a large fork to work it in. Knead until you have a soft, smooth-ish dough — it doesn’t matter if a few small unmelded bits of butter remain. Shape it into a flat block, wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 20 minutes or so.
On a lightly floured board roll the dough out to a long rectangle of about 24 x 10 cm (9½ x 4 inches). Fold one end up two-thirds of the way, then the other end down to cover it, forming a portafoglio (purse). Put back in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, for 20 minutes or until it is firm. Have a rest, a cup of herbal tea. Put the dough on the board, pointing in the same direction as before, then give it a half turn so that the folded ends are now at the sides. Roll out as before. Continue like this for a total of 6 times, each time chilling it for 20 minutes or so, covered with plastic wrap. Rest some more. Have another cup of herbal tea. As you progress the dough will become smoother and easier to roll. You might find that some butter remains unincorporated, but don’t worry — the main thing is to end up with a neat block of pastry with uniformly multiple layers.
Use immediately or keep in the fridge, covered, for 24 hours. Otherwise store in the freezer, then defrost in the fridge. I use this for the Chicken breast pie and the Ham & green olive tart, and it can also be used for desserts.
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