I love puff pastry. It has the ability to make an appetizer, main course or dessert seem extra special. I had gotten into the habit of buying my puff pastry because I have made traditional French puff pastry in the past and it is a bit of a chore. So much so that I gave myself permission to buy the pre-made stuff from the market (I don’t give myself permission to do that easily). Why? Mostly because i’m a fussy pain in the butt. I also have gotten so accustomed to making everything from scratch that I actually feel a sense of guilt when I buy a pre-made product for my own convenience. I think it is possible I am a little hard on myself. I also know that at this point the odds of that changing are not stellar. So I do try to find a better way when possible to make things from scratch that are “less” of a chore. This recipe for quick puff pastry is one of those ways.
I have mentioned in the past that I am an avid (obsessed) book collector. I own hundreds of them and don’t foresee adding to my collection slowing down in the near future. Not because I am trying to be wasteful, but because I learn from reading. I learned so many of my home keeping/homesteading/urban farming skills from books. That said, I often look over my many shelves of books searching for new ideas. I am embarrassed to admit have several books I have never cooked or baked from. I always mean to, but life is hectic and I push things off waiting for that calm moment when I can leisurely select recipes from the pile I have marked with post-its and slips of paper I use as bookmarks. If you go through my books I have so many interesting recipes marked, so many projects and crafts I honestly mean to get to….and I will. But probably not today and tomorrow does not look good either….
Anyway, every once in a while I steal a moment for myself to indulge in a recipe or project that really looked interesting to me. I put them on my to do list (sometimes for weeks). This recipe was one such recipe (it didn’t seem like I would ever stop yapping and get to the recipe…i’m so sorry, I’m a Mommy and starved for adult conversation….you guys are my friends….I wait all day to talk to you all).
This makes a really good substitute for the real deal fancy French puff pastry. It is not at all hard to make and yes, it it worth the time it does take. This recipe is adapted from Bake by Nick Malgieri page 50-52. Lets make some puff pastry shall we?
Quick Puff Pastry
This recipe makes about 1 1/2 pounds of dough
10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter very very cold
2 cups all purpose flour (spoon in to the dry measure and level off)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold water
Storage: This dough keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days. Double wrap the dough and you can freeze it for 1 month.
Here we go...
1. Cut 2 sticks of the butter into 1/4 inch cubes. Scrape them onto a plate and put them in the fridge.
2. Put the flour and salt in the bowl of your food processor and pulse to mix. Cut the remaining butter (4 tablespoons) into slivers and add to the work bowl of the processor. Combine until no visible butter remains.
3. Add the chilled butter cubes and give three 1-second pulses. Add half the water and pulse once. Add the remaining water and pulse twice. The dough will not form a ball. Remove the blade carefully.
4. Scrape the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface and then lightly flour the top of the dough. Use your hands to squeeze and shape the dough into a cylinder, and then press down on the dough to flatten it into a rectangle.
5. Flour the surface and the dough, and starting at the narrow end of the rectangle farthest from you, use a rolling pin to press the dough firmly in parallel strokes close to each other. If there are sticky pieces of butter on the surface of the dough, seal them with a large pinch of flour, making sure to clean off anything stuck to the rolling pin before continuing. Repeat the pressing motion again from close to farther narrow end of the dough.
6. Press the dough once along the width; it should be a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Once again, flour under and on top of the dough and roll the dough away and back toward you in the length and once in the width, without rolling over he ends in the same direction, to make a rectangle about 18 inches long and 8 inches wide.
7. Fold the two 8 inch ends of the dough in toward the middle of the rectangle. Leaving a 1 inch space in the middle. Fold the bottom up to the top to form 4 layers of dough. Reposition the dough so that the folded edge that resembles the spine of a book is on your left. Rolling and folding the dough is known as giving the dough a turn.
Repeat steps 5, 6, and 7.
Repeat steps 5. 6. and 7 again.
Wrap the dough and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to firm up and rest its elasticity before attempting to use it.
When the dough is fully rested and chilled its ready to use in any way you would like. I cut this dough in half to show you the layers…
This dough is wonderful wrapped around a small wheel of brie and topped with brown sugar and walnuts and an hors d’ oeuvre. Or topping off a bowl of stew to create a pot pie of sorts. Perhaps wrapped around a chicken breast stuffed with sun dried tomatoes and fontina cheese served with a lemon white wine sauce…..Wrapped around a seared filet mignon topped with sautéed mushrooms with a brandy sauce….or something as simple as palmier cookies or as the crust to a crisp apple tart….its good stuff to have around. Make some, you will be glad you did.