So call me crazy, but I make my own puff pastry. Certainly not for huge parties. No, for those, I buy DuFour's excellent commercially available product. But for small gatherings and my own family, I pull out my recipe and my rolling pin and fold and roll and roll and fold. Last night, I brought one of the more popular dishes in my appetizer rolodex, Lambs in a Tuxedo (lamb sausage wrapped in puff pastry), to a party. It was a huge hit and I promised to post the recipe to show just how easy it is to make. So here you go Christy!
Making puff pastry from scratch is not difficult AT ALL. It just takes time, mostly unattended time. It's just like barbecue - actually even easier because in that instance you have to tame a fire. In this instance, you just need to tame the dragon of fear.
There are a few secrets. First, use the best butter possible. Second, you need to balance keeping the dough as cold as possible with retaining its pliable nature. Finally, use lots of flour to prevent it from sticking.
Start with 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, ¾ cup cake flour, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 2/3-1 cup water. Combine the flours onto a clean surface in a mound and with your fingers make a well in the center. Make sure to keep that all the walls of the well are solid so that the liquid ingredients you'll put into the well won't escape, running off the counter and onto the floor. Melt 2 tablespoons butter. Put the salt, 2/3 cup water and melted butter into well. With the fingers of one hand, mix the liquid ingredients until the salt is dissolved.
Mix in the flours slowly with a plastic pastry cutter – make sure that you don’t break the walls of the well. Mix until well-blended, adding more water as necessary. The dough will be slightly sticky.
Cut an “x” ½-inch thick into the top of the dough. Wrap in plastic wrap or a floured cloth and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.
Take 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (the remainder of 2 sticks after lopping off the tablespoons used in the previous step). Tap between 2 sheets of parchment paper into a square ¾-inch thick. Wrap in the parchment until you're reading to move to the next step.
Set the dough or detrempe on a lightly floured surface and roll out four arms from the center outward. The final product should be mounded in the center. This is critical to make sure that there is enough of the flour dough to cover the butter without breaking through. Put the butter square on top of the mound. Cover with each of the arms and tap with a rolling pin to seal.
Now let's roll. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 7-inches wide and 21-inches long. Fold up the bottom third to the center and the top third to meet the bottom seam. Wrap in floured parchment and refrigerate for 30-minutes. Go watch TV, clean up the kitchen, exercise off the calories that you'll eat in the pastry.
Turn the dough a quarter turn to the left and roll out to a rectangle. Make another quarter turn and roll it out again. Refrigerate for another half hour. Take a nap.
Give the dough another quarter turn. The dough can now be frozen.
After defrosting, give the dough two more quarter turns. The pastry is now ready to be rolled out and cut. I love puff because it's easier to roll out and use than regular pie pastry and there's far less waste and mess than you get with filo dough. Plus it's delicious in both sweet and savory dishes. And now you too can impress your friends and relatives.
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