This homemade puff pastry recipe is for purists who insist on the best possible ingredients for their baked goods. Making your own puff pastry from scratch is not difficult, but it is a time-consuming and painstaking process. Plan on three days to make this puff pastry, as the first and last steps require overnight refrigeration.
Once you read through the instructions, you may decide to simply use the prepared puff pastry from the freezer case at the market. But, you really owe it to yourself to attempt to make puff pastry from scratch at least once in your life.
Makes 2 pounds/1 kg puff pastry.
- 13 ounces/390 g all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons/7 ml salt
- 3 ounces/90 g unsalted butter, cold
- 7 fluid ounces/210 ml water, cold
- 10 ounces/300 g unsalted butter, softened
- To form the détrempe, sift the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Cut the 3 ounces/90 g cold butter into small pieces and then cut the pieces into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
- Make a well in the center of the mixture and add all the water at once. Using a rubber spatula or your fingers, gradually draw the flour into the water. Mix until all the flour is incorporated. Do not knead. The détrempe should be sticky and shaggy-looking.
- The détrempe can be made in a food processor. To do so, combine the flour, salt and pieces of cold butter in a food processor bowl fitted with the metal blade. Process until a coarse meal is formed. With the processor running, slowly add the water. Turn the machine off as soon as the dough comes together to form a ball. Proceed with the remainder of the recipe.
- Turn the détrempe out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough a few times by hand, rounding it into a ball. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic and chill overnight.
- To roll in the butter, first prepare the 10 ounces/300 g softened butter by placing it between two sheets of plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin to roll the softened butter into a rectangle, approximately 5x8 inches (12.5x20 cm). It is important that the détrempe and butter be of almost equal consistency. If necessary, allow the détrempe to sit at room temperature to soften or chill the butter briefly to harden.
- On a lightly floured board, roll the détrempe into a rectangle approximately 12 x 15 inches (30 x 37.5 cm). Lift and rotate the dough as necessary to prevent sticking.
- Use a dry pastry brush to brush away any flour from the dough's surface. Loose flour can cause gray streaks and can prevent the puff pastry from rising properly when baked.
- Peel one piece of plastic wrap from the butter. Position the butter in the center of the rectangle and remove the remaining plastic. Fold the four edges of the détrempe over the butter enclosing it completely. Stretch the dough if necessary; it is important that none of the butter be exposed.
- With the folded side facing up, press the dough several times with a rolling pin. Use a rocking motion to create ridges in the dough. Place the rolling pin in each ridge and slowly roll back and forth to widen the ridge. Repeat until all the ridges are doubled in size. Using the ridges as a starting point, roll the dough out into a smooth, even rectangle approximately 8 x 24 inches (20 x 50 cm). Be careful to keep the corners of the dough as right angles.
- Use a dry pastry brush to remove any loose flour from the dough's surface. Fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter. If one end is damaged or in worse condition, fold it in first, otherwise, start at the bottom. This completes the first turn.
- Rotate the block of dough 90 degrees so that the folded edge is on your left and the dough faces you like a book. Roll out the dough again, repeating the ridging technique. Once again, the dough should be in a smooth, even rectangle of approximately 8x24 inches (20x60 cm).
- Fold the dough in thirds again, completing the second turn. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. Repeat the rolling and folding technique until the dough has had a total of five turns. Do not perform more than two turns without a resting and chilling period. Cover the dough completely and chill overnight before shaping and baking.
- Puff pastry sheets may be frozen. Fold finished rectangles in thirds and wrap tightly before freezing. Defrost in the refrigerator before using.
Note: It is not necessary to work with the entire block of dough when making bouchées (small puff pastry cases that can be filled with savory or sweet fillings), cookies or the like.
Cut the block into thirds or quarters and work with one of these portions at a time, keeping the rest chilled until needed.
Approximate values per 1-ounce/30 g serving: Calories 120, total fat 9 g, saturated fat 6 g, cholesterol 25 mg, sodium 110 mg, total carbohydrates 9 g, protein 1 g, vitamin A 8%.
Source: "On Cooking : Techniques from Expert Chefs" by Sarah R. Labensky and Alan M. Hause (Prentice Hall). Reprinted with permission.