"Life’s too short to make your own puff pastry, so just buy it pre-made", said pretty much everyone ever. Well I say boo to that! I have never made puff pastry before, so thought I would give it a go. It’s a very versatile staple to have in your repertoire and despite the time consuming aspect of it, it’s actually pretty fun to make. It is quite experimental in terms of thinking about which method you’re going to use to incorporate the butter, how many turns you’ll do, which kind of turns etc. which is all part of the fun, I think!
This recipe involves putting the butter in in small cubes and then using book turns to get the lamination needed for all the layers. This is not, by all means, the only way to do make the pastry.
It’s nice to try new things, but it’s always good to rely on some pretty expert knowledge to help you get started, so I asked my lovely mum for her recipe (and some help) and set to work. My mum is just so good with pastry – she just gets it and how it works. Any question I had she knew the answer to. It’s good for the soul to bake and cook with my mum; it’s something that I’ve been brought up doing and it makes me really proud when we’ve made something amazing together. I’ll have to think of something really good to make her next time I try and make the pastry by myself!
This is a lengthy task and not for the faint hearted, so here we go!
300g plain flour
1pint ice cold water (just plonk an ice cube or two in the glass and fill it up from there)
1 egg to glaze
Ensure all of your ingredients and your bowl are cold before starting. Keep your butter in the fridge and pop your bowl in there for about an hour, too.
Sieve your flour and salt into your cold bowl and then replace in the fridge whilst you prepare the butter. Cut it into smallish cubes with a knife.
Remove the bowl from the fridge and add in your butter. Using a round ended knife, just move the butter around in the bowl until each cube is coated in flour. You should not be breaking the butter down at this point, we want big chunks in there!
Wash your hands with cold water and dry thoroughly before this next step!
A little at a time, pour in a few splashes of water (it's very likely that you won't need all of the water, so don't pour the whole lot in!) and move the butter and flour around with one hand until it starts to stick together. DO NOT SMUSH THE BUTTER! It's very likely that you won't need all of the water, so don't pour the whole lot in!
When no flour remains loose in the bowl, turn the mixture out on to a very heavily floured work surface and shape it into a big, flat sausage. You will not need a rolling pin at this point, just shape it and keep it as square as possible.
Wrap in cling film and then leave in the fridge for an hour or so.
After time is up, flour a work surface and unwrap the dough. You need to flour your rolling pin, too to prevent any sticking mishaps. Press down on to the dough and roll one way only (don’t roll back and forth as this will ruin the structure) and roll out until it is approximately 18inches long and 6inches wide. Keep flouring the surface as it stretches and dust your rolling pin when there’s any indication of stickiness.
There should be large splats of butter distributed through the dough at this point. Don’t worry, they will get smaller as you do the turns in the next part of the process. So to do a book turn you need to do the following:
1. Turn the pastry so that it is lying horizontally on the work surface.
2. Fold the right hand end into the middle.
3. Fold the left hand end into the middle.
4. Fold the left half over the right half.
5. Press down the three open sides with the rolling pin and then
roll vertically away from you.
Chill for an hour. Repeat 3 times. Chill for only 25-30mins on the penultimate turn. Leave in the fridge until ready to use, but take out 10mins before using.
Now you should have a lovely little block of pastry all ready for pies, tarts, mille-feuille, volovants, sausage rolls – you know, all the lovely puff pastry things *wide eyes*! You can leave your pastry to rest overnight if you prefer and it can be frozen for up to a month, just take out the day before you want to use it and pop it in the fridge.