Getting back to basics…somehow doesn’t feel basic! But when you get the hang of a new skill it isn’t easily forgotten. It wasn’t until I realised that I have never (shock horror…NEVER) made puff pastry from scratch that I became all nostalgic for home-made pies! So my first attempt at puff pastry had me rolling and folding and rolling again, the key being to make sure you always roll in one direction so you get those crispy, butter layers all perfect when you bake it.
NB: As the butter melts in-between the layers of flour the moisture turns into steam and thats what creates the layers of crisps pastry which is specific to puff pastry.
When I could see, through the heavenly oven window (best view in the house), that the pastry was rising I may have lost my s*#t a bit and exhaled, ‘Ahhhh….this must have been what people felt like when they discovered that wheat and water makes bread’ – a bit of an overstatement. But just as rewarding. Promise!
225g strong bakers flour
170g butter, chilled and cubed
125ml cold water
pinch of sea salt
Are you ready for this?
Begin by reading these steps to yourself, before you get your hands dirty! And then ensure you have a clean workbench (preferably marble, however I use a marble tile…cheap alternative and works a treat for those with wooden counter tops). Alright!!! Lets get busy
1. Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the salt. Add the butter and chilled water to the flour – then you want to roughly break the butter into small chunks and rub into the flour with your fingers. You need to see bits of butter speckled throughout the dough, so that when you come to ‘fold ‘n’ roll’ the butter will be worked into layers – that is what pack’s the puff!
2. Mould the pastry into a ball and cover with cling film. Leave to rest for 20 mins in the fridge OR be impatient (like me) and use the freezer for 10mins.
3. Turn out pastry onto a lightly floured board or marble top, knead the dough gently to form a smooth rectangle
4. Lightly dust you rolling pin with flour, now roll the dough in one direction only, until its about 3 times the width or the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Try to keep the edges straight and even so that you get perfect corners, use your finger tips to stretch to shape in needed.
5. Fold the top third down to the centre, then the bottom third up and over that. Like folding a letter! Give the dough a quarter turn – to the left or right – and roll out again to about three times the length.
6. Fold again, just as before! Then cover with cling film and chill for at least 20 mins (10 min in the freezer) before rolling to use.
NB: You can leave the pastry wrapped in cling film in the fridge for 2-3 days or in the freezer for up to a month.