Puff pastry is a flaky, buttery pastry that can be used in desserts, dinners and appetizers. Sadly, this wonderful pre-made frozen dough isn’t widely available in many countries. It takes a little time and some serious elbow grease, but it isn’t too fussy as far as pastry dough goes. The good news is that it freezes very well one batch can be used for four different recipes.
Ingredients for 1 batch or about 2 pounds
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 – 1 1/2 cups very cold water
2 cups butter – room temperature
Stir the salt into the flour and make sure it is completely homogenized; you really don’t want salty spots in your pastry. At this point, some recipes will suggest that you cut the butter into the flour. I recommend that you only do that when you’re making pie crust. You won’t be able to achieve the same level of puffy flakiness if the butter is cut into the flour. Instead, we’re going to skip ahead to mixing in the water. Keep your water as cold as possible for the best possible results. Using your hands, stir in the water, starting with just 1 cup. After 1 cup is mixed in, there should still be some dry flour. Slowly add a just a little more and thoroughly mix it in. Keep doing this until all of the flour has formed into a ball and pulled away from the edges of the bowl. Make sure that you add the water slowly so that you don’t end up with too much and a wet sticky dough.
Tightly wrap your dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour. While the dough is chilling, start working on the butter. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface, put the two cups of butter on the middle, and then cover the butter with another sheet of plastic. At room temperature, you should be able to shape the butter with your hands. Press it into a rectangle about 12″ x 9″ (31 cm x 23 cm). Tuck the ends of the plastic wrap around the butter and place it in the refrigerator, keeping it as flat as possible, for at least 30 minutes.
When your dough is thoroughly chilled, take it out of the fridge and roll it into a rectangle about 18″ x 12″ (46 cm x 31 cm). Unwrap you butter rectangle and place off center on the dough.
Fold the uncovered portion over the butter.
Now fold over once more and rotate 90 degrees. Gently roll out the dough to about 12″ x 9″.
Fold in thirds again. Now wrap it up and put in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, do it again. You’ll need to roll it out and fold it four times in total. If you’ve ever made croissants before, the technique is the same. Croissants just get rolled and folded seven times instead of four.
After you’ve rolled and folded the dough for the fourth time, cut the dough into four pieces.
You can see the layers that will help the pastry puff up and become flaky.
Tightly wrap each piece in plastic and place in the freezer for future use, or roll out to use in something right away. They will keep in the freezer for up to two months. When you need frozen puff pastry to use in a recipe, let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator, not at room temperature, or it can become sticky.