Friday, 27 December 2013

Basic recipe #4: Pȃte feuilletée (puff pastry)

The next challenge of the week calls for pȃte feuilletée otherwise known as puff pastry. The first mention of this usually has home cooks running for the hills so I am going to start off with a note of reassurance: it's OK to buy and use ready made puff pastry. Really. Yes, it is. However, homemade puff pastry, is not hard or complicated, but merely takes a long time as you have to rest the pastry a lot.

I made my own for the challenge and so took the opportunity to document it and include it here as a basic recipe. Even if you decide to buy it ready-made, it's a fascinating insight into the method behind, and I always think things taste so much better if you realize the sheer amount of work that went into them.

Pȃte feuilletée is, in essence, a basic dough (la détrempe) that is laminated with butter. Through a process of folding and turning, known as le tourage, 729 fine layers of butter and pastry are created which puff up magically to form the characteristic texture when baked.

Pȃte feuilletée

Active time: 30 mins
Total time: 4 hrs

250g  / 2 cups flour
120g / 1/2 cup water
5g / 1 tsp salt
extra flour for dusting
250g  / 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter and room temperature

La détrempe

Ingredients for la détrempe

Place the flour in a mixing bowl. Dissolve the salt in a little water and pour into the bowl. Add more, but not all of the water and mix the dough with your hand. You are trying to achieve a homogeneous dough, and this will require more or less water depending on the level of humidity in the air. Add more of the water until this has been achieved. Then form the dough into a ball, wrap it in cling film, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

la détrempe before resting

Le tourage

1. Place the dough on a floured work surface and cut a cross in the top using a sharp knife.

2. Starting in the middle, fold the corners of the dough outwards like the petals of a flower.

3. Using a rolling pin, flatten out the petals, but be sure to leave a thick mound of dough in the middle.

4. Place your butter in the middle on top of the mound.

5. Fold in the petals to completely enclose the butter, like a parcel.

6. Very gently roll the dough to form a long thin strip. Be very careful that none of the butter manages to break through the dough.

7. Fold the bottom third and the top third of the dough over each other into the centre of the dough.

8. Turn the dough so that the seam is to the right. This is one turn.

9. Repeat the process of rolling ...

10. ... and folding, until you have completed a second turn.

11. With the flats of your fingers, being very careful not to pierce the dough with your nails, make two dents in the dough. This will remind you that it has had two turns. Now, wrap it in plastic film again and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. At this point there are nine layers of butter in the pastry.

12. Repeat stages 8-11 twice more and mark the dough with four dents to signify that it has had four turns (81 layers) and then return it to the fridge for another 30 minutes.

13. When they dough has rested give it another two turns (steps 8-11) and then the dough is ready to be used immediately. It will now have 729 layers of butter. Bon appetit!

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