Puff pastry is one of the most versatile things to have in your freezer. I love it because the options are endless with these – an elegant meal for unexpected guests, or a last minute surprise treat. Classic puff pastry has layers of butter or other solid fat sandwiched between thin layers of dough. As it bakes the layers separate and puff out creating the flaky , crispy texture. Making these requires time and skill. The recipe here is a quick version of this laminated pastry that gives beautiful results.
I used to have puff pastry sheets in the freezer all the time. Store bought sheets are good but it is rarely that I find the all butter version. Call me finicky but somehow the shortening just does not cut it for me. Making the classic puff pastry is a challenge, until I came across this good foods idea. I tweaked it a little and the results were really good. Not quite the classic texture , but fairy close with very little effort !!
It is important to start with cold ingredients when making these. The butter does not have to be frozen , but right out the fridge is perfect. At any time if it feels that the butter is beginning to melt, chill it for 10 to 15 minutes before continuing. Apart from butter and water all the other ingredients and equipment should be at room temperature or cooler. If making these on a warm day, chill the food processor bowl for 30 minutes ahead of time and chill the dough halfway through the process.
Sift 2 cups of flour along with 1/2 tsp salt into the bowl of a food processor. Cut the chilled butter into 1/2 inch cubes and add to the flour mix. Place the lid on and pulse for 5 to 10 times.
Stop processing when the mix resembles coarse bread crumbs. Chunks of butter should be visible. Drizzle the chilled water on top and pulse another few times.
The dough should begin to clump together. We are not looking for all the dough to come into a ball, but It should begin to stick together. Some flour remaining on the sides is to be expected.
Dump the mix onto a floured work surface . Using your hands , gently bring together all the pieces into a rough ball. Do not knead. Chunks of butter should be clearly visible. If the dough feels smooth, the butter is beginning to melt . In that case cover with a plastic wrap and chill for 15 minutes before proceeding .
Dust with flour generously and using a rolling pin roll the dough into a 10 X 12 inch rectangle. As you roll use force in one direction only – in other words try not to roll the pin back and forth. Once the dough is stretched a little in one direction , give it a 90° turn (quarter of a circle) and roll again. Do this 4 times to stretch the dough out evenly in all directions. Do not worry about the exact shape at this time . It will look a little crumbly and edges will not be smooth. If you see chunks of butter .. hooray , you are on the right track !
Lightly dust the top of the sheet with flour and fold the top third of the it towards the bottom. Fold the bottom third and place on top . Repeat the same process from side to side .
At the end of first set of folds the pastry sheet will look somewhat like this. It is be a bit crumbly and messy looking. Don’t worry it is on the right track. If the kitchen is warm or if you feel that you have overworked the butter , cover the dough sheet with plastic wrap and chill for 15 minutes before proceeding.
Repeat the rolling out and folding process 5 to 7 times. At each step the pastry become more and more pliable and smooth looking . The chunks of butter between the layers become thinner and thinner , but at any time if it looks like the butter is melting into the flour , chill the dough before proceeding further.
I prefer to repeat the rolling and folding process 7 times , but anything more than 3 will give good results. After the desired number of steps , cover and chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before using it . Alternately it can be wrapped tightly and frozen for future.