Monday, August 23, 2010

Not So Puffy Puff Pastry

Where shall I begin? I'll start off by saying I made puff pastry. kinda. I made this along with my gal pals Ingrid and Michelle. The recipe was chosen by Ingrid and I was excited about making it because I've always wanted to make puff pastry. Why? Well because I like a good challenge, I like to know that I can make something that I would otherwise just purchase from the store and because that Pepperidge Farm box of puff pastry doesn't actually contain any butter. It's true. And lastly because the real stuff is expensive.

This puff pastry recipe is kind of a shortcut version. It's not made like a typical puff pastry is made. Puff pastry generally starts off like homemade croissants would, by folding dough over a slab of butter. Repeat, repeat, repeat until you end up with layers upon layers of butter and dough. But this recipe has you incorporate the ingredients into a mixer bowl, create a dough, then fold it like an envelope a few times, with refrigeration in between. I didn't have very much success with this method. I had problems from the very beginning. I mixed for the recommended amount of time (I even set a timer) but it quickly became overmixed. Perhaps it was too warm and melded together despite chilling the ingredients??? At this point I should have started over but I was out of butter. So, I added the liquid and it didn't absorb so I added more flour. Then I forgot to refrigerate after the first turn but I proceeded on and while it looked fine, the end result didn't puff up much- it rose then fell.

I can't say this recipe was faulty, because others have had success with it, but I definitely would not try it again. I feel like I wasted my GOOD butter on this, though I don't regret the challenge because I got to bake with my friends. I don't use puff pasty often but if I ever get a wild hair up my butt and want to try again, I'll try a different recipe and method. If you're feeling adventurous and want to give it a go, then by all means do, the recipe is below. In the meantime, I'll just tell you what I did with mine. I scored the edges of the thawed out dough, prebaked it at 400F for 15 minutes, then topped it with pesto, garlic, caramelized onions, Boursin cheese, shrimp, bacon and cherry tomatoes and baked it for another 20 minutes til the pastry was golden. The edges of the pastry were tender, flaky and buttery but the middle was gummy. Overall, this recipe was a disappointment, but at least I walk away from it with knowledge of what to do next time.

  • 4 1/2 sticks (18 oz) cold unsalted butter
  • 3 cups (15 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3 oz) very cold water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Cut the butter into 3/4-inch cubes. Transfer the cubes to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the flour and salt to the bowl also and use your hands to mix briefly, until the butter is coated with flour. Put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes. Combine the water and vinegar in a measuring cup and chill this mixture in the fridge for 20 minutes as well.

After 20 minutes, remove the mixer bowl from the fridge and attach to a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. You want the butter to break into smaller pieces of varying sizes (the largest about 1/2-inch square); be careful, however, not to over-mix - if the butter is too small, it will be unable to form flaky layers in your puff pastry.

With the mixer still on low speed, slowly add the water/vinegar mixture to the bowl, drizzling in different points around the bowl. When the dough begins to come together in large chunks (within about 10 seconds), stop the mixer. The dough will be slightly moist but it will not look smooth. Turn the contents of the bowl onto a floured work surface.

Use your hands to shape the dough into a rough rectangle about 6 x 8 inches and 1 1/2 inches thick. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 14 x 16-inch rectangle. You can flour the dough a bit if necessary, but brush the excess flour away once you've finished rolling the dough out. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter. Start with a narrower side facing you and begin by folding the bottom third up. Next, fold the top third down to complete the "turn."

After you complete the first turn, roll your rolling pin across the top of the dough gently 1 or 2 times, just to fuse the dough. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. You'll want to repeat this process 2 more times - to create three turns total. Continue to chill the dough for 30 minutes between turns. Once you've completed all 3 turns, chill the dough (wrapped in plastic wrap) for at least 1 hour before using.

Cut the dough into 2 pieces, roll out each piece (my measurements were about 12x15-inches) and double wrap in plastic wrap. The dough can be refrigerated for 2 days or frozen for 4-6 weeks. Thaw frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator.
Refer to your desired recipe for oven temps and cooking times.

Makes 2 1/4 pounds of dough

Hopefully, Michelle and Ingrid had success with theirs. Go visit them to find out!

29 comments:

Healthy and Homemade said...

MMMM!!!

I just buy puff pastry, I'm lazy like that.

jelena said...

To me it looks fabulous, and the pesto (I've just made it couple of days ago for the first time} is a wonderful kick. Don't give up! Still eating your oatmeal sandwiches, just one a day, so the enjoyment would last longer!

tamilyn said...

I'm sorry it didn't turn out :(

Never had to urge to make it-too lazy I guess :)

Laura said...

ok ewwww just ewww it that P.F. doesn't even have butter in it!!!
It looks pretty though :)

Indie.Tea said...

Bookmarked your recipe. 'Cause I find store-bought puff pastry to be pretty nasty-tasting (even if its from upscale and supposedly gourmet places)...and I need a recipe for it.
And your finished product looks very pretty (even if it didn't 'puff').

oneordinaryday said...

Monica, I really think you need to give the recipe another try. Just halve it this time cause it's really freaking awesome. : ) (Note, that I'm saying that to you, not Ingrid, as we know she doesn't swear like a sailor over a great recipe. I do and I did!) Start adding the liquid at the 1 minute mark instead of the 1.5 minute and it'll be perfect.
Loved baking with you guys!!

Cooking Gallery said...

Oh, my!!! You make your own pastry, you're so inspirational! Love the toppings with shrimps, tomatoes and bacon!

Kim said...

I think I'm too afraid of the results to prepare my own puff pastry! It's true that the real stuff cost a lot but butter (great butter) cost a lot too... I think you have a lot of courage!

cookies and cups said...

I think the fact that you attempted puff pastry is impressive!
Who knew that the Pepperidge Farms didn't have butter?! Crazy!

Keeley said...

It looks super yummy with those toppings! I'm not going to lie, though. After watching an Australian woman on the Cooking Channel make puff pastry I said "forget that" and I know I'll be buying mine in the freezer section if I ever need it!

Maria said...

I have only made puff pastry once. I will have to make it again. Love this recipe!

Smitten Sugar said...

Well you would never know from the pictures its didnt work out! I have always just bought it from the store...but fun to try new things out!

Ingrid said...

Sorry!! I seem to pick recipes that just don't seem to work.

Except for the onions and tomatoes, your tart looked good! :) I'm a pain aren't I?
~ingrid

Sherry G said...

Your pictures make it look good, though! I love seeing these monthly challenges you guys do.

ButterYum said...

I'm quite sure you had trouble with this recipe because you used European butter, which stays softer at cold temperatures because it's higher in fat and lower in water than American butter. Also, I've never heard of cider vinegar being used in a puff pastry dough before. Don't give up - use an all butter/flour recipe (no vinegar) with American butter next time.

:)

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

It is actually nice to know that others have food failures too. I've never tried making puff pastry. I like the packaged well enough not to spend all that time. That really is good butter you used...purring on this end, I can't buy it here.

Julie @ Willow Bird Baking said...

It still looks delicious, and I'm sure you'll hit it perfectly with a new recipe!

Louanne said...

I made puff pastry last week using Florian Bellanger's recipe for Kouign Amann - it did take most of Saturday, but it was so delicious; I only laminated half of the dough with sugar and used the other half to make cheese palmiers. If you get the itch to make it again, try his recipe.

chocolatecoveredgummiebears said...

That looks so savory!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

what can i say...puff pastry is a real bitch!!! first of all, if you make it in hot weather you really need a marble slab to roll it out on. i've never made it the way you tried. the secret to good puff pastry is rolling all those layers of butter in between the dough layers. that is what makes it puff. i think like anything else with baking...it takes practice! i make my own and it is so much better than store bought i just can't buy that stuff. i even tried the whole foods version which costs like a billion dollars and it was awful!

Julie said...

LOL at you getting a wild hair up your butt :P The tart looks beautiful, in spite of everything.

biz319 said...

Wow - that looks amazing!!

Abby said...

It DOES look pretty. But I'm not surprised it was fussy! One day I'll try it, but not today. Too much work. I admire y'all.

Souffle Bombay said...

I have a feaf of puff pastry!
You go girls!

teresa said...

this looks so beautiful! i love what you did with the toppings! lovely blog!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Kudos to you for trying this. I love puff pastry, but have no desire to make it. I've seen how complicated it is. No matter what, you still made it look pretty. I read labels, and I have always assumed that Pepperidge Farm uses butter. Huh. I just read the label. Trader Joe's stopped carrying their puff pastry, so I'll have to check out Whole Foods.

Maranda said...

Sad!!! I'm so sorry your puff pastry didn't really puff! The dish looks pretty though! I love the caramelized onion with the shrimp and tomatoes. Great attempt!!

Avril Miller said...

I'm VERY impressed that you took on this recipe! I am sorry that it didn't come out as well as you hoped it did....and that you used all that precious butter...but the good thing about it is that you had the experience and you were with dear friends.....:-)

Memória said...

Hey chica! I remember you telling me about the problems you encountered with this recipe. I agree that you should try another one - a more traditional one and still with the European butter or the Vermont butter. Your tart still looks lovely. Congrats! Take care.

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