So, I'm going to cut to the chase here. I learned how to make puff pastry in my pastry class on Wednesdays, but as you know the class is mainly demonstrative and I didn't get to do it myself. Being the kinesthetic learner that I am, I finally got around to making the puff pastry, and woke up one morning with a huge urge to do so. The pics here might not be the prettiest, but hey, the point is to illustrate how to make puff pastry, which can be a daunting task. Let's get started!
Makes 3 1/2 lbs
750 grams all-purpose flour (6 ¼ cups- measure by weight if you can)
4 bars of margarine (1 bar cold, 3 bars room temperature) (see note)
Ice water, as needed (1.5 cups)
1. Make the dough:
Mix cold margarine with hands into the flour until small pea sized balls are left and the mixture is like "sand."
Little by little, add small amounts of ice water until you form a smooth, manageable and even dough. There should be no loose flour. Do not knead; pat gently to incorporate flour and not develop gluten.
2. The five turns:
On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a rectangle as large as you can without making it too thin or stretch too much (should be about ½-inch thick or slightly less).
For each turn, you must have the dough originally in a rolled-out rectangle shape, the long side of the rectangle facing you. Visualize (depending on the type of turn) the 3 or 4 sections of the dough).
First turn- business letter fold: Visually imagine 3 sections of the dough from left to right (always of the long side). Spread 1 stick room temperature butter on the two right sections, but not on the one left section that you have visualized. That means, ⅔ of the dough will be covered in butter. Then proceed to make the business letter fold by folding first the left section over the middle section, and then the right section over the middle section. You now have a finished business letter fold.
Second turn- book fold: change the direction of the finished business letter fold so that you are once again facing the long side of the dough. Roll out the dough from the middle, again about 1 cm or ½-inch thick, or until the dough starts shrinking back. This time, divide the dough into 4 imaginary parts down the long side. Spread another stick of room temperature butter down the 2 middle imaginary sections of the dough. Now fold the dough as if it were a book: fold both the far right section and the far left section over the 2 middle sections (far right over near right; far left over near left). Then fold in half from the center. Now you have a finished book fold.
Third turn- business letter fold: Change the direction of the finished book fold so you are once again facing the long side of the dough. Butter the two right sections, leaving the left section without butter. Follow the business letter fold instructions from the first turn.
Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes.
Fourth turn- book fold: Take out of the refrigerator and roll out into a rectangle as you have been doing, with the long side always facing you. Butter the two imaginary middle sections and then proceed to follow the instructions for a book fold from the second turn.
Fifth turn- business letter fold: Change the direction of the dough and roll it out into a rectangle with the long side facing you. Butter the two imaginary right sections, leaving the left section without butter. Follow the business letter fold instructions from the first turn.
3. Let the dough rest, refrigerated, 24 hours before using. The dough will last up to one week in the fridge or months in the freezer.
- Remember to try not to incorporate more flour into the dough, and always brush extra flour off (this is hard because the dough is a little sticky when rolling out).
- Don't press down hard when rolling, and NEVER roll over the edges, especially not with pressure; this will ruin the layers.
- Remember after each turn to flip the dough/ change its direction before rolling it out again for the next turn.
- You'll want a big space to make the puff pastry on (I used my kitchen table and a silicone pastry mat)
- Try to roll the dough out into the best rectangle you can
-Try to spread the margarine as even as you can
A note about the margarine:
Anyone who regularly reads my blog has noticed I always use real butter, and believe it's sooooo much better than margarine. So why did I choose to use margarine here? A) Butter in this country is 4 times as expensive as margarine (A box of four sticks costs more than $5- there's a monopoly on dairy products); B) Because of this, I didn't want to waste all that butter on the puff pastry if it wasn't going to work. I wanted to see if it would "work" first; C) Smearing 4 sticks of butter onto dough seemed a bit gluttonous; I used margarine for the slightly "healthier" impact it would have. However, if you would like to use butter to make the puff pastry, be my guest! (And please, let me know how it turns out!)