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How to make puff pastry

How to make puff pastry

How to make puff pastry

Whether it's a breakfast croissant, an apple turnover for elevenses, a savoury tart, a bouchée starter or beef Wellington main, puff pastry features in dishes throughout the day. Shop-bought puff pastry is ideal for quick fixes but making your own can be really therapeutic and very satisfying, often surpassing branded varieties in terms of its flaky, buttery qualities.

Often used in elaborate desserts like mille feuille, Napoleons and other such delicacies, puff pastry is created by a method called lamination. This involves butter and pastry being repeated folded until many layers are created.

Ingredients

  • 500g of plain flour
  • 250ml of milk
  • 150g of butter, diced, Plus a 200g block
  • 1/2 tsp salt
1
Use your fingertips to rub the diced butter into flour until it reaches a loose breadcrumb consistency. Add the milk and use your hands to bring together the pastry and form it into a rectangular block. Wrap the block in cling film and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes
2
Roll out the pastry on a floured surface into a flat rectangle – approx. 1cm thick – this is known as the détrempe. Keep the sides straight as this will help you when folding the pastry later on. It should be roughly three times as long as it is wide with neat edges and corners.
3
Place the 200g of butter between two sheets of greaseproof paper and bash it flat using a rolling pin to half the size of the détrempe and rectangular shaped.
4
Remove the butter from the paper and place it on the bottom half of the rectangle. Fold over the top half of the pastry to cover and 'seal in' the butter.
5
With the folded edge pointing away from you, roll out the pastry to a rectangle roughly 3 times as long as it is wide as in step 2.
6
Fold the bottom third of the rectangle into the centre. Now fold the top third on top of that so the pastry is now three layers thick. Rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes
7
Remove from the fridge and place the pastry on a floured surface with the folded edge perpendicular to you then repeat steps 5 and 6 again for a total of 6 times, resting for 20 minutes in the fridge between each folding
8
Finally roll the pastry out to your desired thickness. For a pie it should be about 1cm thick.

Tips

When bringing the dough together, be careful not to over-work the dough as this will activate the gluten in the flour and result in a poor quality puff pastry.

Always use a long, sharp knife to cut down through the pastry in one downwards movement. Using a serrated knife or dragging a knife through the pastry will cause it to tear and it will not rise properly.

Cut any leftover, unrolled puff pastry into small pieces and freeze wrapped very tightly in cling film for later use.

 
 

Uses

Puff pastry is used for vol-au-vents, sausage rolls, cheese straws, tart bases and pie tops as well as for a multitude of desserts. In the savoury camp, there’s British classic Beef Wellington and French pithiviers and pissaladière – try Graham Campbell’s Fillet of beef wellington, Colin McGurran’s Ox cheek pithivier or Pierre Koffman’s classic pissaladière.

The most famous puff pastry dessert must be apple tarte Tatin; try Marcus Wareing’s very simple version or Luke Tipping’s Pear tarte Tatin with Gorgonzola or look to Shaun Rankin’s pineapple for a more tropical flavour. Bruno Loubet puts a savoury twist on this classic with his Shallot tarte Tatin with chicken livers.

 
 
 

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How to make puff pastry

 
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