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.
Here is the process in pictures – the first and second row needs to be done only once while the last row gets repeated for a more pastry with more layers
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.
A quick knock off puff pastry version. Gives good flaky crusts to pies and tarts .
- 2 C All Purpose Flour
- 1 C or 2 Sticks Butter Chilled
- 1/2 Tsp Salt
- 1/3 C Water Chilled
- Flour - As needed for dusting
- Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes .
- Sift 2 C flour and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse 5 to 10 times till the mix looks crumbly. The butter chunks will be smaller but visible. Add the chilled water and pulse about 5 times till the dough starts to clump together.
- Flour a work surface and dump the mix onto it. Using your hands bring all the mix together into a rough ball .
- Sprinkle some more flour on the board and over the ball. Using a rolling pin roll our the dough into a rough 10" by 12" rectangle . Do not worry about the shape or exact measurements at this point. While rolling stretch the dough in one direction only. After a couple of rolls, give the dough a quarter turn, and roll again, repeating the process on all four sides.
- Dust the dough lightly and fold the dough from the top towards you 1/3 of the way . Fold the bottom third over it. Repeat the folding process in the other direction to get a cube shaped piece. The dough will be rough and crumbly at this point.
- Dust the working surface and the dough again and repeat the process 5 to 7 times. After the second or third time the dough begins to look much smoother. If no chunks of butter is visible , or it feels like the butter is beginning to melt into the dough , refrigerate the dough for 10 to 15 minutes before continuing the process.
- After the dough is rolled the required number of times, dust the puff pastry sheet and fold and freeze or fold and chill for 30 minutes before using .
Use the best quality butter !!