Here it is, my ultimate guide on how to make puff pastry.
Puff pastry is one of the harder pastries to get right, it takes a lot of love and attention to get it right, but when you do its oh so satisfying to watch your creation rise and puff up on the oven knowing that its all yours. Puff pastry consists of paper thin sheets of pastry made by folding butter into the dough up to 6 times and chilling between each fold. It is this time and effot that creates those illusive layers and makes puff pastry so, well, puffy.
Puff pastry is used to make a veriety of different bakes, apple turnovers, puff pastry tarts and cheese straws all require puff pastry and if like me you usually buy it at the store those illusive layers can be daunting. But never fear my guide to how to make puff pastry will be here for you every step of the way.
The layers of butter are essential to make that classic puffy texture, these layers are created by folding butter into the pastry. Creating a rectangular flat block of butter and folding it into the pastry like a little pastry envelope, roling out the envelope, folding again and repeating until the butter has evenly incorporated in layers, 6 fold in total. The pastry is chilled after each fold for an hour to keep the butter cold.
Much like shortcrust pastry the butter must be kept cold, the dough and the butter will cook at different times and this is essential to creating those flakes. The dough will have entered into the setting stage in the oven by the time that butter starts melting and releasing all of the essential steam. When this steam is released the dough has already started to set and cannot fall back into the gap released thus the air is trapped and the layers created. Its baking magic.
When making puff pastry I have always know this technique, fold and chill, fold and chill and this technique has worked well for years. But it takes time and so much patience. Recently I learned of a new technique that can cut the folding and chilling time down to just 2 hours which seemed nothing short of miraculous. The technique is called fraisage and it is a traditional French technique in which you bring the dough together on a floured work surface using the heel of your hand to push the dough away from you in short strokes. You then gather the dough together and start again, this creates the same layers as folding and chilling. You then roll out the pastry into a long rectangle and fold it several times into a small folded parcel. chill for an hour then repeat and chill for another hour before using.
After trying both techniques, I have to say, the inner lazy me prefers fraisage. The resulting pastry was almost identical and when your in a rush I would much rather spend 2 hours making puff pastry than buying it. The actual pastry doesnt take 2 hours most of time is spent chilling. But its up to you, go traditional or go rogue, heres both methods.
- 360 g plain flour sifted
- 1 tsp salt
- 340g g butter cubed, cold,, unsalted
- 150 ml water ice cold
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- Place the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse briefly just to combine
- Add 1/4 of the butter and pulse again to combine.
- Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice to the water and add half of it to the dough. Toss the mixture lightly until it just starts to combine
- Keep adding the water and lemon mixture 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough can clump together in your hand.
- At this point transfer the mixture onto a floured work surface and start to fraisage the dough.
- To do this, using the heel of your hand, push the dough away from you in short sharp strokes. Keep going until the dough starts to come together.
- Bring the dough together with your hands and begin the process again.
- Press the dough into a rough rectangle, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, roll the dough out into a large rectangle, fold the sides on the rectangle into the center overlapping eachother, like a long thin envelope.
- Starting an one end, fold the dough over on itself again and again until you get to the other end. A little like a flat swiss roll.
- Chill the dough for 30 minutes and repeat steps 9 and 10.
- Chill once more for another hour before you use it. It will keep in the fridge wrapped in cling film for a few days or up to 1 month in the freezer.
- Place the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse briefly just to combine.
- Add 1/4 of the butter and pulse again to combine
- Add the water and lemon juice, pulsing again until you have a rough dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and gently bring the dough together with your hands. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- On a floured work surface roll the dough out until it is roughly 25 cm across, you can roll the dough in a circle at the stage if it is easier. Leave for now until you prepare the butter.
- Place the butter in between two sheets of baking paper or cling film. Bash with a rolling pin until the butter has flattened out. Shape it with your hands until it is roughly in the shape of a postcard.
- Wrap the butter in cling film and chill for another 20 minutes to let it re harden.
- Place the butter in the middle of the dough, folding the dough over and over again to cover the butter like an envelope.
- Press down on the envelope with the rolling pin lightly to make the envelope longer then fold again, fold the left side of the pastry into the middle, then the right over the top of that, again like an envelope. Turn the dough 90 degrees clockwise. Wrap in cling film and chill for an hour keeping it in the same postion.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out again, fold it in the same way and rotate it 90 degrees again.
- Repeat this process 4 more times.
- You can use the pastry straight away once the folding and chilling is complete or you can freeze the dough for up to 1 month.
And there you have it, my ultimate guide on how to make puff pastry. Remember to show me your bakes by tagging @whatseatingmanchester in your social media post.