Running from the Law: Adventures in Puff Pastry

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Adventures in Puff Pastry

Well, I did it! I made puff pastry this weekend. Cross off another recipe on the 10 Most Difficult Recipes Challenge. I'm starting to realize that maybe these recipes aren't really all that "hard" - but they are time-consuming and tedious and precise. As a cook, I'm not really one to follow directions to a tee (I like to improvise), but I've been trying to be exact on these recipes, so as to not screw them up all that bad.

I found a great puff pastry recipe and tutorial from the White on Rice Couple, which you can find HERE. Their blog post had step-by-step instructions WITH PICTURES! Pastry making is incredibly temperamental, so the advice, tips and suggestrions were really helpful. Maybe I'm a little slow, but start to finish, this recipe took me about 5 1/2 hours. Granted, a lot of that time is just chilling the recipe in the fridge, with not a lot of action needed on my part. But you really have to be patient with this recipe.

First off, make a butter block, out of butter, flour, lemon juice and salt. It is absolutely disgusting how much butter is in this recipe!!  Not diet-friendly at all. You mix these ingredients in a mixer w/ paddle attachment until it's a smooth paste.
Next, on a sheet of wax paper, roughly form an approx. 6″ square with the butter block mixture. Then lay another piece of wax paper on top and smooth out the square & straighten the sides. When everything's even, refrigerate until firm.

As you can see, I was determined to be exact, so I had a tape measure out. I actually marked out a 6 inch square on my wax paper and formed the butter block with my hands to fit the measurements.  I know I'm a dork, you don't have to tell me.  It was a greasy buttery mess.  But kinda fun getting your hands in sculpting or something.

Next, you make the dough. Similar to the pizza dough technique, make a mound with a well in the center. Add the salt and cold water into the well, then with a fork, use a whisking motion to gradually incorporate the well’s sides into the water. When it starts to form a solid mass, finish incorporating the flour by kneading. Incorporate just until it is still sticky and has a rough texture. Cross the dough and refrigerate.

Then, the recipe suggests that the "butter block should have approximately the same consistency as the dough, after the dough is rested. You don’t want the butter rock hard, but not mushy soft, either. If your dough is softer than the butter, it'll stretch while the butter doesn’t. If the butter is softer than the dough, it will be pushed out the sides. Either suck to some degree. You may have to adjust chill/resting times for either dough or butter block so they are about the same."

This is where it took me for-freaking-ever to move on. I had to take the butter block out of the fridge because it was so hard. Then I left it out too long and it got all mushy. Then the dough was kinda hard so it had to sit out for a while. FINALLY, they were both about the same consistency (or I just stopped caring) and could continue. See what I mean by temperamental?!

On to the assembly process. First, pull the corners of the cuts out of the dough ball to make a square shape. Roll the dough out to a square slightly thicker in the center than on the sides, and slightly larger than the butter block. Place the butter block diagonally on the dough square. Fold the uncovered dough corners over the butter block to completely envelop the butter. Pinch the seams tightly together to seal in the butter.

Now, dust your work surface with flour and roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2″ thick.

Now, size up your rectangle visually into three. Fold one third over the middle, then fold the opposite third over. Just like a tri-fold brochure. Try to have everything as even as possible. All the edges should match fairly closely. Put on a plate, cover, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. The White on Rice Couple says, "Relax, read the paper, check email, whatever you like." - Hahahahahahaha! Relax. Yeah right.

After 30 minutes, remove from fridge and roll out to 1/2″ thick and repeat the fold. Don’t forget to flour as you roll. Plate, cover, and refrigerate for 30 more minutes.

Now repeat this for a total five roll and folds. FIVE. That's like hours and hours and hours of folding and waiting. Folding and waiting. Folding and waiting. I really have no patience.

And if you're ready to use it right away...roll it out and wait another 30 minutes.
But it looks pretty good huh?  And yes, I used it right away.  For what?  I'm so glad you asked.  Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the next recipe!


  1. Ahhhhh this is amazing!!!! I can't wait until tomorrow! I really do not think I could do this! I would manage to screw it up somehow - but I am so impressed! And sheesh, that is a shit ton of buttah! Puff pastry is so light and flaky - who'da thunk!?

  2. Okay, so I have to know one thing: was it worth it?!?!? Did it really taste that much better than the frozen stuff??

    And yummm butter!

  3. Oooh you are holding out on the recipe until tomorrow, huh? Sneaky!!! :) hahah I guess I'll just have to wait for your puff pastry goodness. I don't have the patience for this at all. Props to you!

  4. CONGRATULATIONS! I can't wait to see what you made with it... lemme guess... beef wellington??? :-)

  5. Very nice work, and done with loads more patience than I have in the kitchen. I also agree on the difficulty of following directions- sometimes it is just much more fun to improvise.

  6. Hi! Just came over from Stacy says and i'm impressed. Thank you for sharing.. it look absolutely delish!

  7. You are my hero. You rock. I am totally fearful for my attempt. I suck at dough.

  8. Very nice and great message you are giving us to how we should cook into kitchen. Actually i am professional essay writers and i don't know to to make perfectly and from many days i was looking something like this.