Across the web there are nearly as many techniques for puff pastry as there are bakers, but if there is anything common to all its the final result.
In this section today, i am going to be showing you in details different methods, techniques and even styles to accomplish puff pastry. But before i give the game away i strongly suggest you check my article on "Right Ingredients for Puff pastry" to stay on track. Alright then, let’s do this.
METHOD 1: CLASSIC FRENCH PUFF PASTRY
Of French origin, this method is the oldest and most common for puff pastry. It requires lots of time and patience. Below is a picture of the ingredients in the right proportions. (its totally adjustable)
Procedure 1: Creating the Detrempe (The dough)
Sift and mix 480g of flour with 1/2 stick of butter, lemon juice, sugar, salt and finally cold water.
-Style 1: Mixing with hand
If you happen to be mixing with hand, its either you're using a "bowl" or a "board".
--For bowl: Make sure to pour all your solids first and mix, before adding any liquid. This will ensure and even distribution and consistency. Remember were making a dough, So make sure to keep the force on the jug " Don't add too much cold water!". Knead mixture into a proper dough, cover between two plastic wraps and chill for a couple of hours.
--For board: Combine all solids in a large mixing bowl, pour on a board and create some space from center as shown in the image below. Now pour the liquids usually water last, and pat in some flour into it. Mix and continue to form the dough and proceed to knead properly. Cover between plastic wraps and Chill for a couple of hours.
-Style 2: Mixing with a Dough hook
I must say, mixing with a dough hook saves you lots of time and energy. Basically what you need in puff pastry. To mix with a dough hook: Sieve flour, mix with other solids and pour into the plastic container. Now add your liquids one after another usually water last, and mix. Usually kneading with dough hook will take 4-5 minutes.
General Tips for Procedure 1:
✔ If you're going to do the envelope wrap as in Procedure 3, make sure you're wrapping and refrigerating a round dough with a plus cut on it as shown in the image below.
✔ If you're going to do the Book wrap in Procedure 3, make sure you're wrapping and refrigerating a flat square dough.
✔ A good sign i use to know whether or not i have a properly rested dough is when my dough isn't wet after refrigeration.
✔ You can melt butter and cool it, so you use it as liquid.
✔ Do not over work dough as it can become too elastic
✔ Make sure to mix slowly while kneading with dough hook to bring together gluten
✔ Make sure to mix slowly while kneading with dough hook to bring together gluten
Procedure 2: Creating the Beurrage ( The hunk of butter)
Mix 344 g or 3 sticks of cold organic unsalted butter till supple but still cold.
-Style 1: Grating Butter
This is like the most easiest way to make a butter pliable but a fast way to get it heated up, and that is why a considerable sprinkle of flour usually follows up after grating. You shouldn't use this style for margarine's, they'll melt. To grate: Partition butter into long rectangular blocks (Skip if your butter is already in sticks) ,Grab the butter sachet and hold the butter stick by its end and grate. Be careful not to engage your fingers. After that sprinkle some flour on the grated butter, mix, hunk it up into a flat square, place it between two plastic wraps and refrigerate for couple of hours.
-Style 2: Pounding butter with Rolling pin
If you're afraid you'll hurt your fingers with a grater or you're feeling too energetic, this one's for you. Simply cut butter into smaller sizes, and pound with a rolling pin. Scrape and fold butter over itself, and keep pounding until pliable but still cold. Wrap and chill.
Tip: Always sprinkle butter and rolling pin with some flour to avoid "stick".
-Style 3: Mixing with a Stand mixer
Easier that all styles mentioned above, and will produce same result if not better. Just make sure you're using a good beater blade.
To mix: Cut butter into small pieces, and pour all in the plastic container, add 2 tablespoon of flour, and mix to hard paste. Now Scrape to a plastic wrap, cover and chill for a couple of hours.
-Style 4: Mixing with hand
Will take time, Can get messy, but will give you the same result. To mix: Cut butter into small chunks in a bowl, add 2 tbsp. of flour, and mix with hand till soft, pliable but still cold. Now scrape to a wrap, cover and chill for some hours.
General tips for Procedure 2:
✔ It's only a good practice to add flour, not compulsory. Adding flour will not alter taste, but instead help make butter easy to work with.
✔ Make sure to work in a cold environment, and refrigerate immediately you notice butter melting. A good idea would be handling butter with finger tips and trying as much as possible to avoid contact with palm as it will heat up butter faster.
✔ In some recipes you will be required to add lemon juice in butter. I do not think its a good practice since it can make butter uneasy to work with. Mind you if you add it in this step you will not be required to add it in the dough. (Remember your dough needs lemon juice more than butter!)
✔ You mustn't necessarily chill for a couple of hours, if you're observant, you'll notice different recipes with different chilling time. So i recommend you take and use your dough and butter from the refrigerator whenever you feel its workable with( i.e cold and rested). Usually a minimum of 1 hour is the threshold time for cooling and resting.
✔ You can wrap the pieces of butter as in: Style 2 in a plastic wrap, and pound with a rolling pin to avoid getting things messy.
Procedure 3: Style 1: Incorporating Butter in Dough (paton)
After at least 1 hour of chilling for both dough and butter, you can go ahead and incorporate butter in dough with this different techniques.
Technique 1: Envelope wrap.
For the envelope wrap, get your cold and rested dough from the refrigerator, and face the cross sign toward you. Roll out each of the four sections of the cross as in the image below so that you have a little elevation at the middle. Now get your cold square butter from the refrigerator and align its middle to the elevation's, and close each side over the butter one after another so you end up with something like an envelope!
For the book wrap, get your cold and rested dough from the refrigerator, and spread it out in a rectangular manner away from you.
-Style 1: Spread the dough 3 times the size of the butter, and then proceed to roll out the butter two-thirds the length of the rolled dough. Now place the butter on the dough to cover the bottom two- thirds of the dough, and then fold down the top one- third over butter half way, and then proceed to fold the bottom one-third over the top one-third you just folded.
-Style 2: Spread dough twice the size of butter and place square butter at one end. Now close the other end over butter so it forms something like a book. Completely seal butter by closing edges.
Procedure 3: Style 2: Incorporating dough in butter
This puff pastry procedure is called the reverse puff pastry procedure where you're required to incorporate dough in butter. Once again i advice, Do not make this your main procedure if you're starting out puff pastry for the first time. You just might not get it right!
-- Using Technique 2 "Book Wrap", reverse the position of the dough and butter, and proceed to fold using any style.
- Work as fast as you can, and refrigerate ASAP
- Use a cold environment, and always work your puff pastry with "finger tips"
- It is natural for your puff pastry to look rugged in the first turn, so dont freak out and continue.
Procedure 4: Rolling and folding.
Three Fold: Roll out dough three times its width (you can measure that with a table knife), and fold top side half way. Now proceed to fold bottom side over top side to complete a square book. Refrigerate.
Four Fold: Roll out dough, and fold both top and bottom sides halfway till it looks something like a stapled pin. Now proceed to fold any side over another. Refrigerate.
- If butter pops out from lean dough during rolling, its a sign you need to refrigerate ASAP.
- Spank dough to distribute butter before rolling.
- Always brush off excess flour on dough before folding (To avoid burning during baking).
- Do not roll and fold too much as it would shatter your layers. I recommended giving your dough a maximum of 4 "three folds"minus first fold you did, or 3 "four folds" minus the first fold you did.
- You can use this formula (5 x 4n) to get the total number of layers you have for a specific fold /roll if you're using the book wrap style 1 and Four fold method.
- You can use this formula (5 x 3n) to get the total number of layers you have for a specific fold /roll if you're using the Book wrap style 1 and Three fold method.
- You can use this formula (3 x 4n) to get the total number of layers you have for a specific fold /roll if you're using the envelope wrap or book turn style 2 and Four fold method.
- You can use this formula (3 x 3n) to get the total number of layers you have for a specific fold /roll if you're using the envelope wrap or book turn style 2 and Three fold method.
(where n = number of turns)
- Always sprinkle flour on board before rolling.
This is an express method for puff pastry, that saves you a lot of time and its very easy to make. For this method, Add grated frozen butter, salt and sugar to an already sieved flour in a container, and add a mixture of lemon juice and water. Mix to develop gluten, and knead till a proper dough is formed. Now we have a Simple Rough Puff pastry. But if you want to take things a little further, You can roll and fold using any technique as in "Method 1 :- Procedure 4"
Note: Some prefer to cut butter in small squares instead of grating and rub it on flour to coat.
METHOD 3: ANOTHER PUFF PASTRY METHOD
This puff pastry method is a bit hard and quite difficult to execute, requiring a lot of time and energy. The only change in this method is the way you incorporate the butter in dough.
Start by simply stretching your dough three times its width , spreading butter half way and then folding the other side over the butter, and simply rolling. Then again, spreading butter half way, and then folding as required, until there is no more butter. Now proceed to roll and fold using any technique.
Note: Butter can be in tiny blocks or slightly large-flat squares.
Alright then, thats it for Puff pastry methods. If you have any ideas, or corrections, feel free to comment below. I'll be more than glad to listen.
You should also check my article on " Faults in puff pastry and their corrections" to further your puff pastry knowledge.