Saturday, 4 April 2009

Puff Pastry

Just the other day I took a trip to my local butcher where I bought some sausagemeat as I was planning on making some sausage rolls. My husband Paul really likes them so I thought I'd make some for him to be able to take to work for his lunch. I often make pastry for both savoury and sweet dishes but I have never before made puff pastry. I always thought it sounded far too complicated and so I normally cheat and buy the ready made kind.

No I am not going to post about making sausage rolls with bought puff pastry. I have recently purchased Darina Allen's Ballymaloe Cookery Course and as I was flicking through it I found a recipe for puff pastry. After reading the recipe several times I thought I would be adventurous and give it a try. I did buy some ready made puff pastry as a back up just in case.

I found that the pastry wasn't actually that difficult to make although it did take a little time. It was more than worth the effort though as it tasted amazing and so much better than the stuff you can buy in the supermarket. I will definately be making this again so that pack I bought will be languishing in my freezer for a long time to come.

In the book Darina says it is essential to use butter rather than margarine to make this and apparently puff pastry should have 729 layers. I'm not sure if mine had quite that many but it was lovely. I used my pastry to make sausage rolls and I also had enough to top a chicken and bacon pie.

This recipe makes about 1.25kg

  • 450g chilled strong flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 300-350ml cold water
  • squeeze lemon juice (optional)
  • 450g butter, firm but pliable

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl and mix to a firm dough with ate and a squeeze of lemon juice. This dough is called detrempe. Cover with greaseproof paper or cling film and rest for 30 minutes in the fridge.

Roll the detrempe into a square about 1cm thick. Unwrap the butter and shape into a slab roughly 2cm thick. If the butter is very hard, beat it (still in the wrapper) with a rolling pin until it is pliable but not sticky. Place in the centre of the dough and fold the dough over the edges of the butter to make a neat parcel.

If you have a marble slab then do use that but if not then just use your work top. Make sure your work surface is well floured, then flatten the dough with a rolling pin and continue to roll out into a rectangle about 45cm long and 15cm wide. Fold neatly into three and align the sides as accurately as possible. Seal the edges buy pressing with a rolling pin.

Give the dough a one quarter turn. It shoudl not be on your pastry bench as though it was a book with the ends facing north/south. Roll out again, fold in three and seal the edges with the rolling pin. Cover with cling film or greaseproof paper and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

The pastry has now had 2 rolls or turns. Repeat the process another 2 times, giving the pastry 6 rolls altogether with a 30 minute rest in the fridge between every 2 rolls. Chill for at least 30 minutes before using.

Note: Each time you roll the pastry place in on the worktop with the ends north/south as if it were a book. In hot weather it may be necessary to chill the pastry for slightly longer between rollings.