Puff pastry is a magical dough that requires sweat and muscle. Through the layering (or laminating) of butter and dough, the butter gets trapped. When the dough is rolled out, shaped and put in the oven, the butter tries to escape by pushing apart the layers of dough.
The tricky part when making the dough is keeping the butter between the layers of dough. It tends to want to squish out as you're rolling, which is where patience and the refrigerator help. Though the method says to roll and fold twice, I'm happy if I get one roll and fold in and then put it in the refrigerator before the butter has a temper tantrum and starts smearing my rolling pin.
Now that I have a block of puff pastry, what should I make with it?
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 to 3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons unsalted, butter, melted
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 egg, lightly beaten, for glazing
[You can find the recipe for Puff Pastry in the book Le Cordon Bleu at Home or here.]
In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flours and salt. Pour in the water and melted butter. The dough will be shaggy. Bring it together into a ball and score an "x" in the top. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
While the dough is chilling, place the butter between plastic wrap and form it into a square that's 3/4 inch thick.
To roll the dough, make arms or flaps to form a plus sign. The middle should be mounded slightly. The arms must be long and square enough to cover the middle. (See this post.)
Place the formed butter in the middle and fold the arms over the butter, stretching the dough if needed. Seal in the butter. Using a rolling pin, press on the dough to seal the edges and flatten the square.
Roll the dough about 7 inches wide and 21 inches long. Fold the top down and the bottom up to make an envelope. Turn a quarter turn. Roll again to 7 inches wide and 21 inches long. Fold again. Mark the dough with two fingerprints and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Repeat the rolling/folding/turning and then chill. Repeat once more. Now the dough has been turned six times and is ready to be formed into pie crust, cheese sticks, turnovers, napoleons or whatever you fancy. (The dough keeps well in the freezer, too.)
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Not without Salt: Quick Puff Pastry
Dorie Greenspan: Puff Pastry Pinwheels
I'm baking my way through a cooking school curriculum using the Le Cordon Bleu at Home cookbook. The "classes" are based on the Le Cordon Bleu curriculum found online and used as a guideline. Not all the items in the curriculum are in the cookbook, but most are. Where the items are not in the book, I try to find a suitable substitution.
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