I actually know how to make puff pastry. It’s not hard, but it’s time consuming: You work with the pastry for a little while, then it goes in the fridge to rest and chill, then you do it all again. Depending on how you time everything, it typically takes three days start to finish. There’s a quicker way, though, that’s almost as good: quick puff pastry, also called blitz puff pastry or rough puff pastry. This is basically extra-buttery flaky pie crust that you fold like puff pastry to get layers of flaky goodness. Chef Bo, who’s Swedish originally, says “In Europe, this type of dough is known as American puff pastry . . . because this method resembles the technique used to make pie dough, and in Europe pies are synonymous with America.”
Quick Puff Pastry
(from The Professional Pastry Chef)
20 oz bread flour
20 oz butter (2½ sticks)
1 T table salt (or 2 T Diamond Crystal kosher salt)
6 oz ice water
Add the salt to the cold water and put that in the freezer. Cut the fat into chunks (I slice it into tablespoons)
and work it into the flour either with a pastry blender or your fingers. Don’t break up the chunks of butter too much; you want them to stay big. Stir in the ice water until the pastry forms lumps. It will look shaggy and hopeless at this point:
Dump it onto a well-floured work surface (this is where the teachers at King Arthur say, “Flour is your friend here.”) and give it a few kneads. It will come together:
Let the dough rest for 10 minutes (I put it in the fridge, but Chef Bo says you don’t need to unless your kitchen is warm).
Turning the Pastry
You fold laminated dough to get the layers (to laminate it). The set of steps that includes folding is called a turn.
Roll the dough into a rectangle about ½ inch thick. Traditionally you roll it in a portrait orientation (with the longer edges on the sides and the shorter edges at the top and bottom).
Fold the dough as if you’re folding a letter: Fold the top third down and the bottom third up over that.
Turn the dough clockwise 90 degrees so the closed edge is on your left (oriented like a book).
Flip the dough over vertically so the seam is on the bottom and the closed edge is still on your left.
That’s one turn. Do the whole thing again.
Traditionally, you let the dough rest in the refrigerator between turns. I put this in the fridge at this point to chill and rest, but Chef Bo says you don’t have to.
Do one more turn.
Now do a double turn:
Instead of folding the dough in thirds like a letter, fold the top and bottom so they meet in the middle.
Fold the dough in half again as if you’re closing a book.
You can wrap the dough and put it in the fridge to use later, or you can use it right away.
I used a portion of this for the Eccles cakes yesterday, but I’ll use the rest for turnovers or little pastries. It was sort of wasted on the Eccles cakes because forming the astries that way doesn’t really allow the dough to puff. It was very flaky, though, and delicious.