Puff pastry is an amazing thing to have on hand. It can be used to create savoury or sweet dishes; perfect for serving when friends drop by. However most of the commercially available puff pastries are not made with 100% butter (unless you are lucky enough to live near a Trader Joe’s, whose puff pastry is made with 100% butter). In fact, the most readily available in our area is Tenderflake with contains 0% butter. President Choice calls its product Butter Puff Pastry, but it also includes canola, palm and palm kernel oils.
Why does Puff Pastry puff? The magic lies in the layer upon layer of butter sandwiched between layers of dough. When it is baked, the layers of butter let off steam that cause the dough to rise and create all those wonderful flakey pockets. Puff Pastry is made by wrapping a butter block in a simple lean dough (made with flour, water and salt). This is then rolled and folded in a specific manner three or four times to create hundreds of layers. Croissants use the same magic. The only difference is that croissants are made using a yeast dough so they have extra rising power!!
Working with the butter block and keeping it contained in the dough can be a bit tricky and turns off many home bakers. But don’t be discouraged, the is a way to get a very tasty homemade puff pastry with a bit less (okay, a lot less) stress….Blitz Puff Pastry. As the name suggests, this is a faster version of puff pastry. Instead of wrapping butter in dough, you use the same technique as making pie crust and cut the butter directly into the dough. You then use the same rolling and folding technique as traditional puff pastry. There is a video with the recipe that shows you how to fold the dough.
Blitz puff pastry does not rise as much as true puff pastry, however for most recipes the difference will be negligible and the outstanding flavour will more than make up for the reduction in height! And if you want to show off, I guarantee you your friends will be in awe of the fact that you made your own Puff Pastry!! Don’t be scared, give it try! If you are still a bit nervous and want to ace it, contact me to set up a class with your friends and I will guide you on the making of it and give you some great ways to use that Blitz Puff Pastry up (while we sip wine)!
Blitz Puff Pastry
makes 2 – 300g pieces
280 g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
12 g (2 tsp) Kosher salt
Pinch of granulated sugar
170 g (¾ cup) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled
28g (2 tbsp) crème frâiche or whipping cream
158 to 175 g (2/3 to ¾ cup) ice-cold water
In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt and sugar. Scatter the butter over the flour, toss to coat. Use your fingers to work the butter into the flour. Do not over work the mixture. You should still have dime-sized pieces of butter visible. Make a well in the middle.
Whisk together the smaller amount of water (158 g or 2/3 cup) and the crème fraiche or cream in a small bowl. Dump the wet mixture into the well in the flour mixture. Using your hands, a fork or rubber spatula gently work the wet ingredients into the flour taking care not to overwork the mixture. The mixture will look like ragged and there may be some dry ingredients left on the bottom of the bowl. The dough will hydrate as it rests. Only if it truly seems too dry to hold together, add the remaining ice-cold water. Layout a large piece of plastic wrap and dump the dough and any remaining dry ingredients onto it. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Dump the cold dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Bring the dough into a rough rectangle with your hands. Roll out the dough into a rectangle that is about 2 cm ( ½ inch) thick and about 15 by 30 cm (6 by 12 inches). Fold the dough onto itself in thirds, like you are folding a business letter. As you are folding, dust off any excess flour. Then fold in half again, lengthwise. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Repeat the rolling and folding process, first in thirds, then in half, remembering to dust off any excess flour. Cut the dough in half and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. At this point, the dough can be chilled for 1 hour and then used in your recipe, or frozen for several months. If the dough is frozen, defrost overnight in the refrigerator before using.
adapted from Demolition Desserts by Elizabeth Falkner