Puff Pastry

inside of puff pastry baked
Puuuuufff pastry.  Puff pastry dough.  Yup, homemade puff pastry dough. 

Ok, first an apology.  Last time I promised you a way to use that One Hour Calzone Dough but I had to, had to, interrupt that mini-series for this.

All right.  You’re panicking.  Or laughing.  Or think I’m outta my skull.  But...:  I swear you can do this.

For real.  Not a joke.  If you can push a food processor button, can roll a rolling pin, and can fold, you’ve got this.

And I am not kidding.  You too can make homemade puff pastry dough.  Seriously!  Stop laughing!

This ain’t no April Fool’s joke.

Here's the thing, and I get it:  people think baking is hard or scary.  It's not.  I swear.

And I get that there's assumed "tiers" of baking prowess too -- like a dump and stir or box mix, tier one easy.  People assume puff pastry dough is hard, tier ten thousand.  It is not.  I swear.  I swear!

Call me crazy all you want, I (ahem) you not, this recipe is the absolute schnizz, the only one you need, and only one you should use.  Ever.  Meaning, absolutely skip the freezer aisle. 

This makes a bunch too so you can freeze and use later so, way more economical than the store bought stuff.  And better.  Infinitely infinitely infinitely better.  Like, I have never ever had such glorious puff pastry in my life better.

Shatteringly crisp yet delicate, mountainous puff, golden flaky top with soft flaaaaky layers, butter galore....omg.  Off the freakin' charts!  Off the freakin' charts.

baked puff pastry on baking sheet
This recipe appeared to me via a search, via a site called Jewish Food List and upon closer inspection, I discovered where it was (word for word oops a no-no) from.

Lately I’ve been on a specific Baking Quest.  I swear I have so many Baking Quests active or inactive concurrently at any given moment.  Not that that's bad.   But.  So many.  Not enough time to bake it all.

As part of this particular quest, as an offshoot result of, I just only recently purchased Baking with Julia.*

Why, how...wait, what?, you’re asking.  Yeah I don’t know.  Serious oversight.

Especially because Saturdays have been my favorite day of the week for gosh darn ever and that was the day PBS ran the show.  That I watched religiously any time it was on.  I would watch shows I didn’t like just so I wouldn't change the channel and inadvertently miss this show.

I am only, I dunno, maybe ten recipes into reading the book and though I didn’t see the relatively related movie, I feel a mad raging desire to bake my way right through beginning to end and I rarely feel that.  That’s how good this book is.

But.  It must be noted, this isn't a Julia Child recipe.  None in the book are.  This is a Michel Richard recipe, a well-known French-born chef.  Who, ok, I didn't know of.  But!, credit where credit is due.

split open baked puff pastry
Dra-frea-kin'-ma.  You.  Yes, you, can do this.
For this recipe, get the good butter.  Get the European butter, the 83% or higher butterfat butter.  I used Plugra* here but Tillamook, Kerrygold, whatever, preferably not cultured and definitely unsalted.

Why?  Higher butterfat is better here.  It mouth-feels better, it tastes better than lower butterfat American butter, and though it has less water that creates steam that creates layers, it totally works plus it's softer, more pliable, and easier to work with. 

It's worth the splurge here, truuuuust me.  This recipe is meant for European butter.

Allllll righty. 

Whip out the food processor* and dump in the dry ingredients. 

prepping ingredients in food processor
You can likely do this by hand but the machine makes instant work of this.  Pour in all the ice water and vinegar (if using but it helps relax the gluten so why not), pulse that around until a ball forms up on the blade, not even like a minute.

dough ball formed on food processor blade
Scoop the blob out, form it into a ball, and wrap in a lightly damp towel.*  Pop that in the fridge.

dough ball on slightly damp towel
The original says to slash a tic tac toe pattern across the top, not sure why.  I did it but seems to me a skip-able step.
Next, let's smash that butter.  Yesss.  Get out a rolling pin* or meat tenderizer* or whatever works for you and pound that butter into a one inch thick square between plastic wrap while roaring about being a baking beast.

one pound block of Plugra butter between plastic wrap
Block before.
Mmm, fun!  Wrap it up and back to the fridge it goes.  Grab the dough while you're there.

butter flattened into 8" square in plastic
Butter after.
Time to roll. 

I've put all the info and tips and details into the recipe this time so you'll find everything there.

Key points though:  keep it cold, keep chilling it, it will get harder to roll but put your arms into it (gently but firmly that is), your average kitchen counter is 24" deep so you don't need a ruler, and you roll and fold a total of six times.

initial rolling and adding butter square
Roll it square(ish) then roll the corners out into flaps (I was having a spot of struggle for some reason) then plop on the cold butter square.

folding flaps and encasing butter collage
Pull the flaps over the butter, encase the butter.  I had weird bump outs (maybe turn the butter 45°) but don't fret if you don't get this perfect.  I didn't and mine baked up aaahhh-mazing.

first rolling and turn of puff pastry dough
See, even my first roll out and turn were awry and corners and edges nowhere near perfectly square so if yours isn't, don't worry.  It works itself out.
In the end, you'll have about two and a half pounds of dough which equals to about five 8 1/2 ounce-ish pieces, aka, one piece is half a Pepperidge Farm box.  If you haven't gotten a kitchen scale* yet, do so as it will make cutting this dough into even pieces for use and freezing very easy.

final puff pastry dough ready to use
The final puff pastry dough.  See, it comes together after all that rolling and folding.
But that's it, process, roll, fold.  Seriously.  Not hard and that is all it takes to have freshly made puff pastry dough in your hot little hands.

small piece of puff pastry dough baked golden

inside of baked puff pastry
Holy m...f....s....omg right?
So try it!  Blow your mind!  You can do it!  For real! 

*The Baking with Julia book links, Plugra, food processors, cotton towels, rolling pins, meat tenderizer mallets, and kitchen scales are Amazon affiliate links.  Happy baking, thanks!  Please see the "info" tab for more, well, info.

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