May 15, 2009
Here in Miami, we try not to make food that requires the kitchen to be cool and dry. My kitchen usually runs about 80℉ all year round, even when the air conditioning is on. Turn on the oven or open the window and it may get closer to 90℉. So when I decided to make homemade puff pastry, I knew I would have my hands full. I would be lucky to get one turn at a time before the dough needed to be returned to the refrigerator.
However, when @LifebyChocolate challenged me to do it, I figured I had to try. I had certainly made it before, when I lived in New England. As long as it is not raining, you can almost always make puff pastry in New England. In accepting the challenge, I also wanted to keep my puff pastry real. No hydrogenated oils, no crisco, no margarine. I found Italian butter at Whole Foods, and I had a little prairie-raised, grass-fed butter still in the refrigerator. I used organic flour.
I found a recipe in “The Art and Soul of Baking” for a Quick Puff Pastry that only requires 3 turns. Let me tell you, this was no inferior cheat. This looked like and tasted like the real thing.
By the time I finished this project, the kitchen had gone from 81 to 90℉. I could barely get a full turn done before the butter melted.
Then I made the Fresh Tomato Ricotta Tart I posted earlier this week using this pastry. I still have about a pound of puff pastry in the freezer, so be on the lookout for what I do next.
This is my entry for Fight Back Fridays.
Quick Puff Pastry
Adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking
Makes 2¼ pounds
4½ sticks (18 ounces) cold unsalted butter
3 cups (15 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ tsp salt
6 tbsp (3 ounces) very cold water
1½ tsp cider vinegar
Chop the butter into ¾-inch cubes and place in the bowl of stand mixer. Add the flour and salt and toss with your hands until the butter is coated. Chill the bowl in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Combine the water and vinegar and place it in the refrigerator as well.
Fit the bowl onto the stand mixer with the paddle attachment and blend on low speed for 1-1½ minutes. The butter will break up into pieces of various sizes, the largest about ½ inch square. Don’t overblend.
With the mixer on low, slowly add the water and vinegar mixture, drizzling it in at different points around the bowl. In about 10 seconds, the dough will begin to come together in large chunks and will feel slightly moist. It will not look smooth or finished. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface, scraping out any dry bits at the bottom of the bowl.
Shape the dough into a rough rectangle about 6 by 8 inches, about 1½ inch thick. Dust the top with flour and roll out into a 14 by 16 inch rectangle. Brush any flour from the surface of the dough. Make a letter fold (fold it in thirds, like a business letter). Use a board scraper or offset spatula to help lift the dough. It will look shaggy. Roll the pin across the top of the dough briefly and gently 1-2 more times, just to fuse the dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Repeat this turning step 2 times, chilling the dough for 30 minutes between each turn.
Complete your last letter fold and wrap the dough in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using, and up to 48 hours.
The dough can be frozen double-wrapped in plastic for 4-6 weeks. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator prior to use. If still too cold, let it sit on the counter for 10-15 minutes, until it is flexible enough to roll.