Puff Pastry

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Yield

    ten

    5- by 5 inch pieces ⅛ inch thick

Appears in

Stars Desserts

By Emily Luchetti

Published 1993

  • About

Don’t be alarmed at the thought of making your own puff pastry—it just requires a little concentration. It may take you a few tries to master the techniques, but be patient and you will be able to produce flaky, light puff pastry in no time. The actual working time is not long, but seems that way because you have to allow time for the dough to rest. Well-wrapped puff pastry will keep for a week in the freezer. If possible, use French butter to make puff pastry. (mail order sources.)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plus about ½ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound cold sweet butter
  • ½ cup ice cold water

Method

Combine 2 cups flour and salt on the work surface.

Cut the butter into ¼-inch cubes. Toss the butter with the flour and salt so that all the cubes are coated with flour. Shape this mixture into a mound, leaving a well in the center.

Pour the water into the well. With your fingertips, as though you were tossing a salad, work the water in so that a rough dough begins to form. It will look like torn and knotted rags. Gently press the dough together so that all the dry flour is absorbed. Form this into a rectangle approximately 6 inches by 8 inches and inches thick. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

After this resting period, roll the dough on a lightly floured board into a rectangle 7 inches by 16 inches, approximately ½ inch thick. (If you notice the butter breaking through the flour, let the dough sit out for 5 minutes at room temperature before attempting to roll it.) With the short end of the dough closest to you, fold the dough as you would a letter; bring the top down two-thirds of the way and fold the bottom over the top. This is a single turn.

Give the dough a quarter turn so that the open seam is on your right and the closed seam on your left.

Repeat the folding and rolling process, giving the dough another single turn. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.

Give the dough 2 more single turns, rolling and folding, and making sure to give it a quarter turn between turns, and let it rest for another hour.

Again give the dough 2 single turns, folding and rolling, and allow it to rest in the refrigerator from 1 hour to overnight before rolling to desired thickness.

Tips for rolling the puff pastry

Put the puff pastry on a floured surface. Sprinkle flour on top and roll to the thickness specified in recipe. Keep the sides of the puff pastry straight and even as you roll. Occasionally sprinkle flour underneath and on top to prevent the pastry from sticking.

Brush off excess flour. Cut the puff pastry by pressing the knife down with a rocking motion to make a clean cut. Do not drag the knife through the pastry. Freeze puff pastry pieces until ready to use.

To create the traditional mille-feuille (1,000 layers) for napoleons

Pierce holes with the tines of a fork all over the puff pastry. This is called docking and prevents the dough from rising. Place an inverted wire mesh cooling rack over the puff pastry when baking to further prevent it from rising.