Monday, February 22, 2010

Puff Pastry


I have always felt that puff pastry is rarely given its due. I always see it used as a part of a dessert (usually not a very good one), when in reality, it could be a dessert on its own. The lamination process, building alternating super-thin layers of butter and dough, make for a light as air, crispy-flaky-buttery pastry. I wouldn't serve it as a dessert per se, but surely as a major component to build a dessert around.
What I have done to puff for many years is to eggwash the puff then coat it in an even layer of sanding sugar, then bake it first in a very hot oven to give it an initial oven spring to separate all of the layers and to create pockets of air (created by the steam from the butter) between the thin layers of dough. Next, I drop the temperature to continue to bake the puff without burning it, and to ensure the interior layers are fully baked. Finally, I brush the puff with a thick simple syrup (or if you must, corn syrup), bake it for 7 minutes, flip it over, then bake it for 7 more minutes. The result, for me, is a perfect sweet pillow of puff. Imagine the possibilities.



Note: not a single factory made puff pastry can replicate the one that is hand made, even when they use butter.

3 comments:

  1. True, even the best industry made puff pastry is worse than the worst handmade one. Question: do you use any special type of butter? My pastry teacher uses a high fat content butter, which remains soft even at cold temperatures.

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  2. Chef,

    I was thinking. I've seen puff pastry made with shortening (100% fat) although greasy and flavorless, it has perfect separation and amazing lift. Which brings me to the notion that the moisture in the dough is what pushes up on each layer. If it were the moisture in the butter that was responsible for the leavening, then a pastry made with shortening would never rise. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    -Bernie

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  3. Thank you so much for the tips! What a coincidence, I am currently writing up a post for my blog about puff pastry. Gluten free, of course; that we bought here in Spain. I started GF puff pastry formulation this past Monday at Alicia Fundacio. So far after only 3 prototypes I have amazing success w/ defined lamination and mechanical leavening. The dough I have formulated displays viscoelastic properties without the use of any texturas! Yay! The texture was surprisingly light & flaky. Inside, it is a bit chewy. After 2 months of GF research, I feel confident on the formulation modifications I need to made. I'll post again with the winning batch. Thanks again for the inspiration!

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