Poof! It’s Here!
Grocery shopping a few days ago, I was looking for a favorite convenience ingredient of mine: frozen puff pastry sheets. This type of pastry is extremely versatile: you can make bacon-, cheese-, or veggie-stuffed little pouches for appetizers or a snack, or just cut the sheets into squares and top them with cheese, sesame seeds and herbs for quick scones; make your own tart shells in a muffin tin or make mini beef Wellingtons, the choices are near infinite. The downside? Price point. At $5 for a small package (10-12 ounces), it can be quite forbidding for many people. However, it’s not difficult to make at home, even if a little tedious.
You will need 500 grams of flour and the same amount of cold, firm butter or shortening, a tablespoon of vinegar, and a cup or so of cold water.
First, combine 450 grams of the butter with 50 grams of the flour. Wrap the mixture in plastic wrap, and freeze it for at least 30 minutes.
In another bowl, combine the rest of the flour and butter, along with the vinegar. Add water just enough to form a very firm dough, then knead it smooth. For this half, the refrigerator works just fine for the next half hour.
Once both halves are cold and firm, roll out the dough and place the (unwrapped) butter-flour block in the center of it. Fold the edges over to cover it: first the left, then the right side, then the bottom, and finally the top.
Flip the bundle upside down, and roll it out again. Time to fold it again! This time around, fold the right-hand-side 1/3 of the dough over the center, then the left one over everything else, finally fold it in half.
It’s time for another cool half hour in the fridge for the pastry sheet – before doing so, be sure to mark which side was on top with this fold. After the half hour is done, place it upside down (so the previous “top” against your pastry board), and rotated 90 degrees, so the folded end that pointed towards you at the end will face to the left or right. Remember which direction you rotated – you should keep each rotations that way, clockwise or counterclockwise. Roll it out yet again, and fold up; flip, rotate, roll and fold again. Another half hour, another two folds; and then a final half hour and one fold, before your pastry sheets are ready! Roll them out as thick or thin as you like: for scones, about 1/2 inch worked best for me, 1/4 inch or less for pastry shells or snack pouches, and no more than 1/8 inch if you make the pastry shells in mini cupcake pans!
This puff pastry also freezes well: after the final roll, leave it about 1/4 inch thick and in an oblong shape. Place a piece of wax paper or freezer paper (coated side down) on the sheet, then fold it in thirds, making sure the paper separates the layers. Wrap it in plastic wrap and a zipper bag – it keeps in the freezer for up to 6 months, however, I have never managed to not use it in so long!
Enjoy your meal!