Puff pastry is basically magic! IT starts off looking like a regular plain old pastry, that is until it goes into the oven. There it transforms into a tower of thousands of crispy, buttery shards of flaky pastry. It does all this without the aid of any help from raising agents such as yeast, bicarbonate of soda or baking powder.
So what is it that makes this pastry rise? Voodoo? Witchcraft? A Strong Belief?
Actually as awesome as that would be the real secret is steam creating hundreds of paper thin layers of dough and butter in a process called lamination. That is where the real magic takes place, it’s all in the technique of creating those glorious layers.
By making a dough (détrempe) and rolling and folding with butter over and over again until all the layers are formed. These layers are often so thin they aren’t even visible but once baked, the butter melts and the water in those layers turns to steam; puffing up each thing layer of dough, eventually evaporating and leaving behind those crisp, buttery, flaky layers.
Making puff pastry might seem like quite a commitment, but don’t be intimidated by the amount of time you have to invest in it. Most of that time is actually resting the dough between rolls so it’s not as labour intensive as you might think. While you’re creating your layers it will demand your full attention but while it is resting in the fridge you’ll get a rest at the same time.
So even though the allure of shop-bought puff pastry may seem to much to resist when you need a quick pastry fix. Making your own puff pastry can be extremely satisfying and will always surpass any shop bought pastry, in term of it’s flakiness, butteriness and also in flavour.
My puff pastry recipe differs slightly by using salted butter giving a far more flavourful and satisfying pastry, and once you have completed all the rolls and folds you will have 6561 delicious buttery layers to work with. So grab your rolling pin and get ready to reach a kitchen milestone, making your very own puff pastry.
— Al Brady