As part of the course we made puff pastry, it is actually very easy, it takes a little care and time but not as much as I had been led to believe.
We baked half of our pastry and assembled mille feuille on the day. The rest we brought home. I kept it in the fridge and a few days later when I could once again face pastry I used it to make a venison pie.
I have to admit, I was very proud of my puff pastry, it had lots of light layers and tasted absolutely divine.
|Look at the layers!|
Sorry there are no pictures yet of the pastry as it is made, only the final products. I will add them as soon as I make pastry again.
225g plain flour
pinch of salt
85-135ml ice cold water
150g unsalted butter, remove from fridge ten minutes before baking
Sift the flour with the salt into a large bowl. Cut the lard into small cubes and rub in with your fingertips. Nb. If you are a vegetarian you can use cold butter in place of the lard.
Add just over half the water and mix with a knife to form a soft, but not sticky, dough, adding more water if it is a little dry. Use the fingers of one hand to bring the dough together into a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 20-30 minutes.
Dust the work surface with a little flour and roll in dough into a long rectangle, making it twice as long as it is wide, make sure you keep the edges nice and square, this is important.
In the middle of your rectangle of dough roll out two inch wide 'ears' ~ 5cm in length.
Wrap the butter in greaseproof paper and tap, using a rolling pin, into a flattened block, the same width as the pastry and about a third long. Put the butter in the middle of the pastry and fold the ears aver it. Bring the top half of the pastry to cover the butter and then the bottom of half of the pastry up to cover the pastry that covers the butter. Like folding a letter into 3. Turn the pastry 90 degrees, so it is like a book with the spine on the left.
Tap the pastry with the rolling pin to flatten the butter a little and then roll out until the pastry is 3 times long as it is wide. Again always ensure the corners a kept square (you can pull them into shape). Fold evenly in 3 again, bring the top over and then the bottom. Always brush excess flour off the pastry as you fold it. Turn 90 degrees before rolling and folding again.
Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and chill for 15 minutes. Roll and fold the pastry twice more, remember to turn 90 degrees before rolling and start with the 'spine' on your left. Chill for another 15 minutes and then roll and fold a final time.
The pastry is then ready for use. It will keep in the fridge for a few days and can also be frozen.
For 3 rather large mille feuille I used half of the pastry outlined above.
Preheat the oven to 220C/200C FAN.
On a floured surface roll the pastry into a thin rectangle ~30 by 20cm. Place on a baking sheet and prick all over with a fork, chill for ~ 15 minutes.
Bake in the oven till golden, between 15-20 minutes. When done remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Once cool trim the edges to form a perfect rectangle. Cut the pastry into 3 equal strips and then cut these strips into 3. Reserve the best looking 3 for the tops!
You can now assemble your mille feuilles with whatever takes your fancy. In the class we used lightly whipped cream and jam. Cream, jam and fresh fruit would also be lovely. I think cream and lemon curd with blueberries would be a good future combination to try. You can also top them with glace icing. Let you imagination run wild!
I kept the remainder of my pastry in the fridge for 3 days and then used it to top a venison pie.