Michel Roux’s Puff PastryPosted 20 November 2011 by Debbie
Puff pastry — lovely rich, buttery, flaky… don’t you just love it? I do! Not the healthiest thing in the world, but if you’re going to have it, you might as well have it made with butter. Here in the UK it’s surprisingly difficult to find ready made puff pastry in supermarkets that is actually made with butter. The brand sold in most places is full of all kinds of rubbish. A young lady on a recent episode of Come Dine With Me claimed that “puff pastry is so difficult to make that even top chefs buy it ready-made!” I hope not! Or at least, I hope they are buying the good stuff. The truth is, puff pastry is not that difficult to make yourself. It takes a little effort, and some time, but it’s not hard. Plus, most of the time consuming part is when the pastry is relaxing in the fridge, at which time you can relax too!
This is Michel Roux’s recipe for classic puff pastry from his book Pastry. (Check out his recipe for shortcrust pastry too.) This puff pastry is delicious and you can really taste the butter, so if you’re a real butter connoisseur, this is a good time to use good quality butter. I often start it the day before I need it, and one of the resting periods can be overnight. Once you have it, you can use it for all manner of delicious buttery pastry treats, including pies, palmiers and feuilletés.
- 500 g plain flour
- 12 g salt
- 25 ml white wine vinegar
- 200 ml ice-cold water
- 50 g melted unsalted butter
- 400 g cold unsalted butter
Put the flour on your work surface (everything should be as cold as possible: surface, butter, hands…) and make a well in the middle of it. Place the salt, melted butter, white wine vinegar and water into the well. It can be quite tricky to make the well big enough to hold all the liquid, so be careful of it all spilling out.
Gradually mix the flour into the other ingredients to form a dough. Form the pastry dough into a ball, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Begin to roll out the cold dough. Roll the top, bottom, left and right a bit thinner so it looks like there are four flaps.
Smack the cold butter around a bit with a rolling pin. This makes it much more pliable and the whole thing is easier to roll. Place the butter onto the middle square of the pastry dough and fold up the flaps around it, as if you are wrapping a present.
Carefully roll the dough into a rectangle (Michel recommends about 70×40 cm). It might be hard work, and the butter might squidge out in places, but don’t worry, just keep rolling.
Keep dusting with flour if it’s too sticky. Fold each end (long edges of rectangle) over to the middle, making three layers. Turn the pastry around one quarter and roll it into another rectangle. Fold the sides up again, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for at least an hour. If you want to freeze the pastry, this is probably the best stage to do so, finishing it off once you’ve thawed it.
Roll out the puff pastry and fold it up twice more, and refrigerate for another hour. It’s now ready to use.