Puff pastry

Puff pastry

By
From
The Tivoli Road Baker
Makes
830 g
Photographer
Bonnie Savage and Alan Benson

Flaky pie lids, delicious sausage rolls ... so many wonderful foods rely on a great puff pastry. This recipe requires time and dedication, but the resulting buttery, flaky pastry is more than worth the effort.

Most of the recipes in this book that use puff pastry use a half quantity, but you will find it easier to block in a larger amount of butter. And as you’re going to the effort of making your own puff, it is nice to have any leftover pastry on hand in the freezer for next time.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
70g unsalted butter, chilled
150g water
10g white vinegar
340g plain fl
10g salt
250g unsalted butter block, at room temperature

Method

  1. Take the 70 g (2½ oz) of butter out of the fridge, dice into cubes, then leave for 10 minutes to soften slightly before you start – you want it to be cold, but pliable.
  2. Combine the water and vinegar in a jug. Put the flour, salt and diced butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the butter into the flour, mixing until you have pea-sized lumps of butter. With the mixer still running, pour in the combined water and vinegar and mix until the dough just comes together. You don’t want any dry pieces, but you need to be careful not to overwork it.
  3. If you are mixing the dough by hand, combine the flour and salt in a medium sized bowl and toss through the diced butter. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour, as above, then pour the combined water and vinegar evenly over the top. Mix to combine and then tip the dough out onto a lightly floured bench. Knead the dough until it is smooth. Again, you want to make sure there are no dry pieces but also avoid overworking the dough.
  4. Flatten the dough into a rectangle about 1 cm (½ in) thick. Wrap it in plastic wrap and rest it in the fridge overnight.
  5. To prepare the butter block for laminating, place it between two sheets of greaseproof paper and roll it out into a square about 1 cm (½ in) thick. Refrigerate it overnight.
  6. The next day, remove the rolled-out butter and the dough from the fridge about half an hour before you laminate the pastry. You want them both to be of similar consistency, and the butter to be malleable but not soft (this helps to maintain the dough and butter as separate layers as you laminate).
  7. At this stage the dough may be sticky, so keep your work surface well dusted with flour while you roll and fold the dough. If the dough sticks to the bench it will be harder to roll out a nice, even rectangle and may cause the dough to tear.
  8. Roll out the dough into a rectangle 12 × 24 cm (4¾ × 9½ in), with the long edge towards you. Place the butter block in the centre of the dough and fold in each free side of the dough so they meet in the middle like a book. The dough should join together along the seam.
  9. Roll the dough away from you to form another rectangle 12 × 24 cm (4¾ × 9½ in). You want the open edges, where the butter is visible, to measure 12 cm (4¾ in). Rotate 90 degrees, and fold one third of the pastry into the middle, then the other third over the top of that, as if folding a letter.
  10. Roll the dough away from you again to form another rectangle 12 × 24 cm (4¾ × 9½ in). Rotate 90 degrees, and do another letter fold. Rotating the block each time you fold it will give a more even lamination, and should make it easier to roll out.
  11. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least an hour. Chilling your pastry between folds helps to keep the layers separate and allows the dough to relax a bit, which will make it easier to roll out and prevent it from shrinking back.
  12. Take your pastry block out of the fridge and, starting with the ‘hinge’ (the closed edge of the letter fold) on the left-hand side, roll into a rectangle 12 × 24 cm (4¾ × 91/2 in). Rotate the block 90 degrees, do another letter fold and then repeat the rolling and folding once more, so that all up you have performed four letter folds (two before chilling, and two more just now). A good trick for keeping track of how many folds you’ve done is to make an indent in the top surface with your finger after each fold.
  13. Once done, wrap your block of puff pastry again and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably overnight, to stop it shrinking. Then it’s ready to use!

Bakery notes

  • Start this recipe two days before you need it. Make the dough and prepare the butter on the first day, then on the second day laminate the dough and let it rest overnight again before using it. It will last well for up to a month in the freezer.

    Unless you have great air conditioning in your kitchen, don’t attempt puff pastry on a hot day – the butter will melt into the pastry rather than laminate properly. If you find the dough is getting too soft, put it in the fridge after each fold rather than after every second fold. We suggest refrigerating for an hour between folds, but you can leave it longer – just take it out of the fridge 15 minutes before you roll it to avoid breaking the butter.
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