Puff Pastry 101: I could get technical here but I won't. In short, puff pastry gets its layers from layers of butter between layers of dough. In the oven as it bakes, the butter melts, gives off steam, and causes the dough to puff up and rise. In so doing, the layers of dough gets crispy and depending on how many turns were made to the dough, the dough will rise accordingly. Basically, the more turns, the more layers, the higher the rise.
Quick Puff Pastry
Tip: Note the 4 indentations in the dough? They are there to indicate the number of turns that have been made to that parcel of dough, which by the way is known as a paton.
This is called a double/book turn
This is the completed double/book turn. Turns are usually done in sets of 2. For the quick puff, we call it quick as we only do 2 sets of double/book turns. As such, the rise may not be as high as the classic puff, but you will get significant puffing as the classic may have 2 more turns, but they are single turns. Confused yet? Don't be. Follow on to get a better idea on the various types of puff pastry
Classic puff pastry.
The pounding of the butter is to soften it, but it must still be cold. The softened but pounded cold butter is then encased in the dough portion of the process and rolled out. For the classic puff, we do 3 sets of 2 single/letter turns.
Here we have the single/letter turn of the classic puff pastry. Letter, as it is folded in 1/3 like how a letter would be folded to fit into a long envelope. You want to see the schmears of butter within the dough. I know it looks strange but trust me, making of the dough is even stranger texturally! Too bad I didn't sneak any pics of those stages as usually my hands are covered in butter. I will try to do so tomorrow.
I somehow don't have images for the Inverse puff pastry! But not to worry, its primarily the same process as the classic in terms of turns. Only difference is, the butter portion of the puff is on the outside and encases the dough portion within to be rolled. This prevents the overworking of the dough, reducing the amount of gluten formed, which gives a tender dough.
Things that you can do with puff pastry:
Roll out and sandwich with grated cheese seasoned with paprika and cayenne for a great snack.
Best with beer. Or so I've heard... *winks*
Apple tartlets- Very simple and very yummy, simply cut out a disc of puff pastry (pate feuilletee) and lay on slices of thinly sliced apple. We used golden delicious but a granny smith apple should work too.
Be generous with the apple slices as they do shrink in the oven as their moisture escapes. We buttered and baked these sprinkled with some vanilla sugar. So good. See how the edge is left uncovered and there is a little puff action going on? So fun to munch on!
Puff pastry can also be blind baked and made into a strip tart. Here we assembled the puff pastry in the above shape, baked it in the oven with a piece of parchment paper on top as a weight, and voila~ So pretty~~~
It is then filled with a lightened pastry cream
Finally, decorate with fruits of choice and a little dusting of powdered sugar on the sides
You can also skip the sides and just pile on seasonal fruit, and bake in the oven as is. Once out glaze with apricot jam and sprinkle on some almonds
Another quick and yummy snack are Palmiers (palm leaves). These little morsels are simply made by rolling a sheet of puff pastry in sugar, making sure the sugar gets liberally incorporated into the dough, then rolling the sheet of dough up evenly, chill, slice, bake.
Half way through baking, be sure to flip them over to the other side gets an equal chance to caramelise nicely.
I've gotta work on the rolling to eliminate that gap in the dough you see there, but there's something about butter, flour and sugar that never seems to go wrong.
You can also make little cases to fill with anything you desire, sweet or savoury~
Check out the rise on these! So pleased!
Simple but oh so good. Filled with sweetened whipped cream and berries
Topped with a blueberry compote
Tip: You can keep the little cut out and bake it, it makes for a cute little lid for whatever you choose to fill the case with
You can also make a Napoleon. Roll out a sheet of puff pastry, dock very well and bake between 2 sheet trays so it stays flat. Brush with corn syrup right before its done baking and continue till the bubbles stop forming
Using a template, cut out rounds in the baked pastry and set aside the flattest one for the top
Crush up the scraps of puff to make crumbs
Pipe pastry cream lightened with whipped cream and strengthened by gelatin to the base and middle layers ensuring that each layer of cream is even in height. Using an offset spatula, even out the sides
Now for the fun bit! Heat a metal skewer till its red hot
Dust the top of the Napoleon with a good layer of powdered sugar
Now we brand the top with the hot poker! Oh yes. Be very careful doing this though, and note- be in a well ventilated area as this procedure will produce some smoke
Create a cross thatch design
Finally, using the crumbs created earlier from the scraps, decorate the edges of the Napoleon
Tip of the Day!
1. When making puff pastry, always make sure your butter is cold cold cold!
2. Make sure your rolling surface is also cold, as well as heavily floured
3. However, be sure to dust off flour between folds!
4. Fold evenly to ensure that layers created are even. This will enable even rising