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.
Makes 2 1/4 pounds of dough