PUFF PASTRY 101

by Shumaila

Look at me! While ranting about trying to lose weight, losing a ring and other mundane stuff I forgot to mention about my winnings in Vegas. Ooh yes, baby, I won, gambling in Vegas. To tell you the truth, I did not forget but I was in a double mind to mention it- since I do not want to endorse gambling on such a public forum (yes, yes I am the morally right kind of person 😉 ). So why mention today. Well, the reason why I mention it today is that I put my winnings into buying a new cookbook! Well, its funny because I remember telling V before leaving for Vegas that I’ll only play for enough money to buy this cookbook that I had been eyeing for some time now (people gamble for the enjoyment, to pay debts, buy drinks, while I play to buy cookbooks 🙂 ) . And that’s exactly what happened! I won only enough to buy me that book. This was destiny. That book was in my destiny! God wanted me to have it. So even though I just played twice on the slot machine- the moment I hit my target amount I immediately encashed it. No, this time I was not going to be greedy.

A few days back, the book (that I bought from my hard earned money), arrived in a shipment from Amazon. Happy and excited, I opened the package, and behold the beauty! There it lay Sarabeth’s Bakery From My Hand to Yours Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands to Yours – in a large white colored cover with a simple yet beautiful picture of a lady whose hands are shown holding a batch of freshly made brioche in her apron! Yes, it had me floored. For the first few moments I was just flipping through the pages, feeling the smooth and crisp paper, oggling at the beautiful pictures (I am such a sucker for cookbooks!). 🙂

It was on my bed side table that night, and I read through the first few pages and instantly knew I made a good decision in buying this book. The book is designed with elegant simplicity. Her tips and techniques are what makes this book worth buying. I do wish though she had included the recipe for her famous orange-apricot marmalade that kick started her career.

Yesterday I chose to try Sarabeth’s version of Puff Pastry.

As Sarabeth describes:

With countless amazingly, thin, buttery layers that shatter when bitten into, puff pastry is the classic layered dough.

The secret to Sarabeth’s dough is that she uses heavy cream instead of water. Ok! I know what you thinking- “heavy cream! Wasn’t it fatty enough with the butter! “. But Sarabeth believes that the added butterfat from the heavy cream gives the pastry another dimension of flavor and crispiness. Hmmm.. It just means I have to gym harder!

You can use puff pastry in a number of things. It can be used in making palmiers, tarts, mille-feuille. I will be using it to make Apple Turnovers to send to V’s office. (That’s why I am not too worried about the butter and the heavy cream going in the dough- as long as I don’t have to eat them all!)

PUFF PASTRY 101

The dough should be made at least 2 days before using. It has two parts the D’etrempe and the Beurrage

The D’etrempe

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • About 1 1/3 cups heavy cream, as needed

The Beurrage

  • 3/4 pounds (3 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into tablespoons
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour

STEP 1:

Make the d’etrempe, by combining the flour and salt together in a bowl fitted with a paddle attachment. On low speed, add enough of the cream to make a stiff but a sticky dough. Do not overmix as the dough will be worked on and will absorb more flour during the rolling and folding processes. Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Knead a few times to smooth the surface, and shape into a ball.

STEP 2:

Dust a half sheet pan with flour. Cut an X about 1 inch deep in the top of the ball to mark it into quadrants. Transfer to a sheet pan. Sprinkle with flour on top and refrigerate. (I would suggest using the back of the sheet pan to put the d’etrempe. That ways, you can use the cooled sheet pan surface to roll out the dough in Step 4)

STEP 3:

Immediately make the beurrage. Beat butter on medium speed until the butter is almost smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and continue beating until the mixture is smooth, cool and malleable, about 30 seconds more. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and press any remaining lumps of butter out with the heel of your hand, and shape into a 4-inch square. Place the beurrage on the pan with the d’etrempe and refrigerate together for about 15 minutes. The d’etrempe and the beurrage should be about the same consistency and temperature after this slight chilling.

STEP 4:

Flour the work surface again. You will notice four quadrants of dough between the crosses of the X at the north, south, east and west positions. Dust the top of the dough with flour. Using the heel of you hand, flatten and stretch each quadrant out about 2 1/2 inches to make a cloverleaf shape with an area in the center that is thicker than the leaves. Roll each “cloverleaf” into a flap about 6 inches long and 5 inches wide, leaving a raised square in the center. Using the side if the rolling pin, press the sides of the raised area to demark the square.

STEP 5:

Place the butter square in the center of the clover leaf. Gently stretch and pull the north-facing flap of dough down to cover the top and sides of the butter square, brushing away any excess flour. (Since the dough is on the stiff side, just cover the butter square as best as you can without tearing the dough.) Now stretch and pull the south-facing flap of dough up to cover the top and sides of the butter square. Repeat for the other two flaps, completely covering the butter square.

STEP 6:

Dust the surface with flour. Turn the dough over so the four folded flaps face down. Be sure that the open seams face you. Dust the top of dough with flour. Using a large rolling pin, slightly pound the top of the dough to widen it slightly. This helps distribute the butter inside the dough. Roll dough into a 17 by 9-inch rectangle. Fold the dough in thirds like a business letter, brushing away excess flour (called a SINGLE FOLD). Roll lightly to compress layers and transfer pan to refrigerator for about 20 minutes.

STEP 7:

Dust the work surface with flour. Place the dough on the surface with the long seam of dough facing you. Dust the dough with flour. Roll out the dough into a 17 by 9-inch rectangle. Fold the right side of dough over 2 inches to the left. Fold the left side of the dough over to meet the right side. Fold the dough in  half vertically from left to right. (called a DOUBLE FOLD). Roll dough slightly to compress layers. refrigerate for 20 minutes.

STEP 8:

Repeat rolling and folding dough into a second double turn. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

STEP 9:

Repeat rolling and folding dough into final single turn. With the long seam facing you cut the dough in half vertically. Wrap each dough tightly in plastic wrap, then wrap again. Freeze for at least 24 hours or up to 3 weeks. (By freezing the dough, the butter and flour layers firm up, resulting in an extra-flaky texture on baking. It also relaxes the dough better than refrigeration alone.)

STEP 10:

The night before using the dough, transfer the frozen dough to the refrigerator and let thaw overnight, about 8 hours but no longer than 12 hrs.

 

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