Monday, December 24, 2012

Homemade Puff Pastry

Merry Christmas Eve!

I've only made this ground beef wellington a small handful of times.  We love it but it calls for puff pastry which is delicious but definitely more of a treat (and more expensive for my frugal tastes).  So what I do in these situations is figure out if I can make it at home.  Not only is it cheaper but I much prefer to know what's in my food.  And what's in this puff pastry is 6 ingredients.

This puff pastry was much easier to make than I expected. It does takes some time (mostly chill time in the fridge) but I was really glad to discover that it doesn't take much skill.  Don't be intimidated by the term fraisage - it sounds fancy but it's just a simple movement that was really easy to do once I watched a 20-second youtube video. 

So after a few ingredients, some fraisage and some chill time, you have a wonderful, flaky puff pastry.  I used half of the puff pastry in the ground beef wellington and froze the other half.  I'm not sure what I'll do with it yet but I'm thinking some kind of savory appetizer (maybe for New Year's Eve?). 

Homemade Puff Pastry
Takne from: Tracey's Culinary Adventures (she also has step-by-step photos so if you get confused or would like more details, I highly recommend clicking on this link to see her photos of the process!)
Makes 2-3 sheets
  • 3 cups (15 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  1. Add the flour, sugar and salt to the bowl of a large food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add about one quarter of the the butter cubes and process until the pieces of butter are dime-sized, about four 1-second pulses. Add the rest of the butter to the bowl of the food processor and process just to coat the butter cubes with flour, about two 1-second pulses.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.  Combine the ice water and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add about half of the liquid to the dough mixture and toss just until combined. Continue to add the liquid, a little at a time, until the dough will clump together in your hand if squeezed (if you need to add an additional tablespoon or two, go ahead and do so). 
  3. Turn the dough onto a work surface - it will be dry and shaggy, so don't be worried.  Mine still had some very large pieces of butter as well.
  4. Now, you want to fraisage the dough.  It might sound complicated but it just means that you take a small portion of the dough and, using the heel of your hand, push and drag the dough forward using a short, brisk motion. (This 20-second video on how to fraisage that Tracey recommended is very helpful).
  5. Basically, after fraisaging a piece of dough, I used a spatula to move it to the end of my work surface and when I had another fraisaged piece, I added it to create a pile of fraisaged dough.  I repeated this until I had done all the dough. 
  6. When you've finished, gather the dough into a ball.  Repeat the fraisage process a second time.  
  7. After you fraisage a second time, shape your dough into a rectangle measuring roughly 8x4 inches.  Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.  (My dough was definitely still rough at this point.)
  8. After at least an hour, place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll it into a 15x10-inch rectangle.
  9. Fold the dough lengthwise into thirds, like a letter.
  10. Turn the dough so a narrow end is facing you.  Loosely roll up the dough starting from that narrow end and moving all the way down the length of the dough.
  11. Press the dough into a rectangle measuring 6x5-inches.  (It's finally starting to come together and look a little less ragged and rough.)
  12. Repeat the process of rolling the dough into a 10x15-rectangle, folding it into thirds, rolling it up starting at a narrow end and forming into a 6x5-inch rectangle.  If at any time the dough becomes too sticky or soft to work with, you can cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate briefly.
  13. When you've finished the process of rolling and folding for a second time, you've successfully made puff pastry!  You do want to wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour before using it.  You can keep the dough in the fridge for 2 days or, pop it in the freezer for up to a month.  I cut mine in half and put half in the fridge to use the next day and half in the freezer. 


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