21 March 2013
Puff pastry, the queen of pastry, is something even skilled bakers often skip over because it is so labor-intensive and time-consuming. As with me, it might be something you make a few times before deciding "Okay, I've mastered it, don't need to do that again."
Frozen works. There's even an all-butter alternative now to the widely known brand of frozen puff pastry, though I've yet to find an organic version.
Recipes abound for quick (also known as "rough") puff pastry. Like the slow version, they call for an enormous quantity of butter. I love butter, but I like to cut back the fats in my diet as much as possible (though never to the point of sacrificing flavor and texture, of course!).
One day when I was making my usual all-butter flaky pastry, it occurred to me to do a little experiment. What if I used my usual pastry recipe but did a few rounds of folding and chilling? The first batch I used to top Chicken Pot Pies, and the results were amazing. Then beef pot pies (above--I'll post the recipe another day). So I thought, Let's see how it works for turnovers. Beyond amazing! Come back for that recipe soon.
(Makes 26 ounces of pastry - enough for 8 turnovers)
2 1/2 packed cups (12.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen for 30 minutes
2 tablespoons lemon juice or cider vinegar
Ice water to make 3/4 cup liquid
1 With metal blade in place, add flour, salt and baking powder to work bowl of food processor. Turn on for three seconds to combine. Add the frozen butter and pulse for three 1-second pulses.
2 In cup, combine lemon juice or cider vinegar and ice water. Pour liquid over all of flour mixture and pulse for three 1-second pulses. It will be very crumbly. Don't worry about it.
Note: No food processor? No problem. On large cutting board, mix together flour, salt and baking powder. With pastry scraper, cut frozen butter cubes into flour mixture. Mix the ice water and vinegar and sprinkle over the mixture, tossing lightly with a fork. You'll think it's just a big pile of nothing, but don't worry about it.
3 Turn the crumbly dough out onto lightly floured 12-inch square of parchment paper, and roughly shape into a 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Using a bench scraper or just the paper, carefully fold one third of the rectangle toward the center, then fold the other end to the center, like a letter. (It will still be a crumbly mess at this point.) Rotate the dough 90 degrees, then press (no need for rolling pin until after dough has been chilled) the dough again into a 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Repeat. After that third turn, cover and place in the freezer for 20 minutes (or in the refrigerator for 45 minutes).
Note: Work rather quickly. If at any point in the process the butter starts warming up or the dough seems to be getting soft or sticky, immediately cover and refrigerate it until it firms up.
4 On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll the chilled dough into a 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Fold into thirds. Rotate the dough 90 degrees, then roll out and fold again. Roll the dough out once more and fold again into thirds. Roll out and fold once more, for a total of 4 turns.
5 Chill for two hours before using, or wrap well and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. Roll out to about 1/4-inch thickness, about 10-by-20-inch rectangle, and proceed with your recipe. If baking the pastry on its own, as for Napoleons, cut the pastry to size and place in freezer for 10 minutes while oven preheats to 400 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking another 20 minutes. (All ovens are different, so watch carefully.)
Note: I have every kind of rolling pin there is, but the tapered French rolling pin is the one I use most often. The J K Adams FRP-1 is made in the USA of maple.