Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Rough Puff Pastry

I have a dirty secret- I have never made puff pastry from scratch. All that rolling and folding and chilling made me stretch for the easy option in the ready-made-pastry isle of the shop. But yesterday I tackled the white pastry elephant in the room. I just didn't have the time (read patience) to make proper puff pastry so I gave 'rough puff' a go. I wasn't going to put my attempt on the blog, it worked out pretty well but not the perfect glossy finish we're used to looking at in cookery books. But hey, I set up the blog in the interests of collective learning and have never claimed to be anything but an amateur. Hopefully y'all can learn from my mistakes.

For the pastry (Taken from the Great British Bake Off book) 
225g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
125g unsalted butter, chilled
about 125ml icy water
1/2 tsp lemon juice

I think the first place I went wrong was not having the butter cold enough. The big secret to this pastry is to have all the ingredients as cold as possible, you don't want the butter melting as this will ruin the 'puff' effect. I put my butter in the fridge and then diced it quickly, touching it with my hands as little as possible. Still I think it would've been wiser to put the butter in the freezer for half an hour before making the pastry.

Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.  Cut the cold butter and gently stir into the flour with a round-bladed knife - just until the butter cubes are covered in flour, they should not be broken up.

Combine the icy water and lemon juice and stir enough through to bind the dough- it should be lumpy, soft and moist but not sticky or wet. Less stirring is more here.

Turn out the dough on a lightly floured worktop and shape into a brick. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough- rolling away from you- into a rectangle 45cm x 15cm. Fold the dough into three like a business letter, fold the bottom third of the dough up to cover the middle third, then fold the top third down to cover the other two layers (see pictures). Gently but firmly seal the edges by pressing down with a rolling pin. This is the first 'turn'. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for at least 15 minutes.

I think I would have gotten a better puffiness if I squared the edges of the dough up so that it was a perfect rectangle and folded in on itself neatly.

Repeat this folding process three times more, allowing 15 minutes chilling between each 'turn'.
Perfect as a lid on savoury pies- especially the pork and apple pie that is to follow!

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