Rough Puff Pastry

 

350g       flour all purpose

450g       butter cold

10g         salt

175g       ice water

 

  1. Place the flour and salt in a medium sized bowl and place in a freezer for 10 minutes.
  2. After 10 minutes, remove the butter from the refrigerator and immediately cut it into 1 inch cubes. The butter must be used straight from the refrigerator. It should never have softened at room temperature and returned to the refrigerator to harden. When soft butter re-hardens, it becomes brittle and looses it’s flexibility. We want it to be like buttery-clay, stretching when we roll it, not brittle slabs that crackle like a parched riverbed when they are forced to expand. The buttery-clay consistency we seek only exists with butter that has remained cool it’s entire existence.
  3. Once the butter is cubed, remove the flour-bowl from the freezer and add the butter to it. Toss the butter and flour with your hands, until the butter is coated with flour and distributed evenly. Return it to the freezer while you make your ice water.
  4. It might seem silly to add a step for making ice water. I mean, duh, it’s water with ice. However, a cup of water with half a dozen ice cubes might be a delight to drink, but it’s not the kind of ice water we need here. We need water so cold the ice stops visibly melting. To make this, fill a pint glass to the brim with ice. Add enough cold water to cover, then start stirring it. Stir it for at least 1 minute, let it sit while your patience recovers, then stir it for a minute more. Strain the ice from the water, and measure it.
  5. Once your ice water is prepared, remove the bowl from the freezer. Add the entire measured amount of water at once. Immediately begin tossing the entire mixture together, like you were tossing a salad. Toss and toss until the water has created a shaggy mess that clings to the cubes of butter. Your hands should ache faintly from exposing them to all the ingredient chilling you’ve just done.
  6. Press the shaggy mess in a kneading motion while it is in the bowl to help it come together.
  7. Rub your hands together over the bowl to loosen any of the dough that has coated your frigid fingers. Sprinkle a work surface with flour, then transfer the dough onto it. Press the dough into an 8 by 6 inch rectangle. Wrap snugly in plastic wrap, then transfer to the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour, or overnight as we do in a professional kitchen. This extended resting period not only helps any protein chains that have formed relax, but it also allows the water to fully hydrate the flour.
  8. After the dough has rested, remove it from the refrigerator and transfer it to a floured work surface, with the one of the wide sides closest to you. Clear yourself plenty of room, it’s hard to roll the dough out wide enough if your hands are knocking against the kind of clutter that lives on most kitchen counters.
  9. You are now ready to perform your first book turn. In the future when the step in a recipe simply states “perform a book turn,” you will know to do exactly what is described here. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out until it is 9 inches tall and 24 inches wide. You will have to wrestle the cubes of butter into submission on this first turn, focusing pressure on them while the rolling pin stumbles across them like a cobblestone road. Don’t be shy with the flour, dusting the top as necessary, and lifting the dough periodically to reflour the counter.
  10. When the dough is rolled out 9 inches by 24, press the rolling pin on what you estimate to be the vertical center line of the dough, splitting it into two equal halves. Set the rolling pin to the side, and use floured hands to lift the right edge of the dough up, and fold it to meet the center line. Repeat this step with the left half of the dough. Fold the dough one more time over the center line, so the two folded edges of the dough meet. The dough should now return to the 6 inch tall, 9 inch wide block of dough you started with.
  11. Wrap the dough in plastic again and place it in the refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 2 hours, or if you can wait, a full 4. This allows the butter to firm up any of the softening it incurred, as well as allows the proteins to relax enough to be stretched to their max again. When this step is rushed, the finished dough tends to shrink in the oven a little.
  12. Perform two more book folds, following the steps listed above, with the proper resting time between each turn. When you prepare to perform each turn, lay the dough on the counter so the single-fold edge is away from you, and the double edge fold is closest to you. This double edged side is referred to as “the smile,” if not professionally, then at least by me. I like to think that the dough is smiling at me when I begin each turn.
  13. After the third and final turn has been performed and the dough has fully rested, you are ready to sheet your dough. (If you are freezing your dough for later use, wrap it and freeze it after the third and final turn is performed.)
  14. Cut the puff pastry block in half, bisecting the smile. Return one of the halves to the refrigerator while you roll the other.
  15. On a floured surface, roll the dough out until it is 12 inches by 16 inches. With this particular recipe, that height and width should give you a dough that is ¼ inch thick. Your end goal of rolling all puff pastry is ¼ inch. If the dimentions have not been reached, but you recognize the dough is ¼ inch thick, stop rolling. Any futher and your layers will begin to compress themselves.
  16. Place the puff pastry on a floured sheet pan and place it in the refrigerator, while you repeat this step with the remaining half of the dough. The puff pastry is now at it’s thinnest, and the most susceptible to the butter over-softening. I like to leave the rolled sheets in the refrigerator while I clean the counters, preheat the oven, and prepare any filling or glaze that is to be applied. Once everything is ready, I will remove one sheet at a time.
  17. Congratulations! You are now ready to cut and shape your puff pastry any way your heart desires. Give yourself a flour-y high five, you’ve just laminated a dough! Use it to complete any and all recipes that ask for “store bough puff pastry” and go ahead and let your pride do a little puffing as well. You earned it with each turn performed.