Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sundays with Joe: Puff Pastry

One week, 2B1M suddenly sent me a link to pasteis de nata, which she'd seen on pinterest or something, and then I grinned and sent her here. That was the weekend we'd planned on puff pastry, so it all dovetailed nicely, and we set out on this magical adventure. Which was totally worth it.

Joe, of course, has an excellent tutorial, so I'm not even going to try and break down the actual puff pastry here, but I will show you photos of our attempt and I will tell you this:

  1. It's rather easy.
  2. It takes about 4-6 hours, depending on the weather. If it's cold, you need to let it rest less and you can do more than one turn at a time, but if it's warm then you gotta bung that baby in the fridge for half an hour or so between every turn.
  3. It's a great stress reliever.
  4. You really need a heavy Chinese rolling pin, because our desi ones will just not cut it. So this is basically a very long very heavy cylinder, without the handle bits. The advantage of it is that it's completely even with pressure, so you don't get that stripe effect you do with the regular rolling pins. 
  5. Your wrists and arms are going to ache, unless you work out. But trust me, when you see that flaky insanely yummy pastry, it's worth it.
  6. You will also need a large flat rolling surface, the counter will work fine, but since I have my silpat sheet I used that.
For the dough:
500 g flour
2 t salt
70 g butter
230 ml water
1/2 t lemon juice

For the butter slab:
500 g butter
4 T flour

Whisk the flour and salt together. Add butter and mix (I have an electric mixer with that spiral dough mixer thingy, which is what I used. I think a spatula might work too but lots more work.) for about a minute. Add the water and lemon juice and knead till it just comes together, you don't want to over activate the gluten. If there's still flour left, add water in tiny amounts till it is absorbed. I didn't need to. Make a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours or so.

Now the butter slab. Take a large double sheet of cling wrap and lay the butter down on it. I cut it into chunks first. sprinkle the flour over it. Place another large double sheet of cling wrap over it. Now for the fun bit. Take your roller and BASH THAT MOFO! Seriously, it's great fun. Smash, smash, HULK SMASH! Go read that tutorial on how to place the blows etc. If it's spilling out, push it back together and keep going until the flour is absorbed. If it's warm, stick the butter in the fridge periodically. When it's done, shape it into a square and stick it in the fridge till the dough is done resting. 

Once the two hours are up, roll our dough out roughly square and large enough that if the butter slab is placed on op of it like a diamond, the points of the diamond will touch the sides of the square. (No photo sorry, but yay Joe has.) Fold the dough over and seal it. 

Now take the rolling pin and smack it a bit, first one diagonal, then the other, then methodically parallel to the sides, so you can be sure the butter is in the corners. Next, roll it out into a rectangle (this will be hard), brush off any flour from the surface and then fold it over on itself like a letter. Congratulations! You've done your first turn. 

Depending on how soft the dough has gotten (much like sex, soft is bad) you either bung it back in the fridge for half an hour or do another turn, where you roll it out into rectangle again and fold over. For puff pastry you need to do at least 6 turns, we did 7. We managed, because it's so cold, to do two turns at a time. When you're done, freeze. We made pasteis de nata with one half and the other reposes in my freezer now.


Sue said...

It looks lovely. You know that, right? I don't own a food processor nor a very heavy rolling pin but I just know I'm going to give this a shot some day.

MinCat said...

you should! i mean they've been making puff pastry for ages. just make like one third or the recipe or something then it'll fit under a normal roller you know?

Sue said...

That's what I was thinking. On the other hand, if I'm going to all this trouble I keep thinking I should make enough to freeze. Greed, huh? :)

MinCat said...

it is a wonderful thing