Homemade Puff Pastry
Although in principal Puff Pastry is easy to make it can be very time consuming which is why many people prefer to buy the ready to use Puff Pastry from a supermarket. But making your own can give you a great sense of accomplishment and quiet often has a far better taste
When making Puff pastry the aim is to achieve layer upon layers of Dough with layers of Butter in-between each layer. By doing this and each time you give your pastry what’s called (A Book Fold) you slowly increase the number of layers.
If you give your pastry a total of 5 x book folds then overall you would end up with over 1000 layers which is why Puff Pastry is also known as 1000 leaf pastry, and its theses many layers that create the puff in Puff Pastry, as the butter acts as a barrier so that when in the oven baking when the water/moisture in the pastry turns to steam as the steam cannot pass through the Butter layers it naturally starts to rise and push all the individual layers upwards which results in the nice open internal structure of Puff pastry...
225g/8oz strong bread flour (Chill in the fridge for at least an hour before use)
Half a teaspoon of fine salt
150ml/¼ pint ice-cold water
250g/9oz unsalted butter, (Cold, “but” not rock hard) for what’s called the “Roll in fat”
(You can use half-butter and, half lard for the Roll in Fat) but this will tend to give the puff pastry a far more waxy taste in the mouth, so I prefer to use 100% high-quality Butter
You will also need a little plain flour to dust your work surface when rolling the pastry dough
Method: Known as the Scotch method
Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, (Keeping the flour and bowl cool will help you to get a better result later and create nice layers of pastry.)
Meanwhile, cut the butter into small cubes.
Using a round-bladed knife, stir the butter into the bowl until each piece is well coated with flour.
Pour in the ice cold water, then working quickly use the knife to bring everything together to form a rough dough.
Gather the dough in the bowl using one hand, and then turn it onto the work surface. Squash the dough into a fat square shape but without kneading the dough
Wrap the dough in a piece of plastic and then chill the dough and butter mixture in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
Lightly flour the work surface and then roll out the pastry in one direction until it’s about 1cm thick and three times as long as it is wide, or about 45x15cm/18x6in.
Straighten up the sides with your hands now and again, and try to keep the top and bottom edges as square as possible.
Fold the bottom third of the pastry up, then the top third down, to make a block about 15x15cm/6x6in.
It doesn’t matter if the pastry isn’t exactly the right size - the important thing is that all the corners are nice and square. After this wrap the pastry in the plastic again and chill for 15 minutes again
Then turn the dough so that its open edge is facing to the right, like a book. Gently press the edges of the pastry together with the rolling pin.
Roll out and fold the pastry into 3 even portions again and then again wrap in the plastic and chill for a further 15 Minutes, repeat this same method for (Four times in all) to make a smooth dough, with buttery layers all through the pastry.
If the pastry feels greasy at any point, or starts to spring back when as you roll, then cover and chill it for 10 minutes before continuing…
Chill the finished pastry for about one hour before using it.
When you use the pastry roll it out in one direction lengthwise with the book opening facing your body with just the occasional rolling to its width to about the thickness of a £1 coin
When baking puff pastries: bake sugared coated products at 180-200C/400F/Gas 6
And non sugared products such as sausage rolls at 200-240C / 500F/ Gas 7-8
Making your Puff pastry variations
Once you have rolled out your Puff Pastry to the thickness of a (£ coin) you then need to cut the pastry it into the various sizes to produce your products.
As a rule of thumb for most individual products you need to start with a piece of pastry measuring (10 cm squires) and proceed as follows:
First make a mixture of 3-4 table spoons of currants, 1 tablespoon of caster sugar and 1 good teaspoon of mixed spice and then blend them all together with 2 tablespoons of melted un-salted butter, then set aside in the fridge so that the mixture can become slightly firm.
Any mixture not used can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for another time
Once firm add a good heaped teaspoon of the mixture in the middle of the pastry square, then bring the four corners together as a peak and then the further four corners together in the same way and press the tightly together and press the pastry down, this affectively make a small round pieces of pastry with the filling inside. Now turn the pastry over so that the sealed portion is at the bottom on your work surface and using a rolling–pin gently roll out to about (Three inches in diameter) Then brush the top with a little water and dip into Granulated sugar and place on your clean non-greased baking tray and the using a wide flat bladed knife stab three (3) slots all the way through the pastry to the tray below...
Using the same 10cm squire pastry place a good spoonful of pre-stewed Apples with cinnamon in the middle of the pastry and then bring one corner to the opposite corner to form a triangle and then press down the edges firmly...
Brush with a little water and then dip into granulated sugar and place on your clean grease free baking tray...
To make other variation of sweet products on the same lines but with various fillings jut follow the same procedures...
Puff pastry Millefeuille
For Millefeuille use 2-3 pieces of pastry the length of your baking tin and at 10cm wide, lay the strips of pastry onto your clean grease free baking tin and then using a fork stab tiny holes into the pastry, this will prevent the pastry from rising up excessively high and going out of shape.
Once baked and cool you can start to make up your layers of pastry, strawberry jam, and thick custard, gently pressing them all together. Then on the top decorate with some thick hot water icing of (Fondant) and some streaks of chocolate...
For my sausage rolls I like to use the tined sausages as one sausage is generally about 10cm in length
First cut your pastry into Squires of 10cm, brush the bottom edge with a little water place the sausage in the middle and then fold the top portion over to meet the bottom edge of the pastry and then press the two pieces firmly together .
Lightly press a knife edge into the top of the pastry for some decorative affect, place onto your clean grease free baking tray and then brush with a little beaten egg ready for baking...
With any Puff Pastry product once you have made the products ready let then rest for at least 15 minutes before baking as this will prevent the pastry shrinking or blowing out of shape...
Any Puff pastry not used or cutting can be kept on a freezer bag for latter use or the cuttings used in your next mixture...
Here is a simple recipe that is quiet often overlooked yet it has a vast range of versatility even for those who are diet concuss all it takes is a little imagination,
see my photo collage of the products in this section.
180 grams of clean water
45 grams butter or margarine
Pinch of salt
150 grams bread flour
Half teaspoon baking powder
250 grams beaten eggs = (4-5 eggs)
Note: with the eggs this is +/- as only a rough guide can be given as it can differ due to the quality of the eggs and the consistency of the Roué / paste
Put water, salt, and butter into a medium size saucepan, bring slowly to the boil so that the butter or margarine is completely melted, then reduce to a low heat
Sift flour a baking powder together add into the water mixture stir rapidly to form a thick smooth paste (Roué)
Cook for a few moments until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan, then tip into a mixing bowl
Using a food mixer (speed 1) or wooden spoon gradually mix in the eggs until you have a smooth slightly firm paste
Place dessertspoon full of mixture in a mound onto a clean grease free baking tray leaving spaces in-between the choux as it should expand to 3 times its size in baking
Bake in a pre heated oven at 220c until light golden brown, leave to cool ready for decoration
Sweet Variation ideas:
Whipped Fresh cream with traditional chocolate toping
Whipped Fresh cream with slices of fresh or tined fruits
Try a mixture of whipped cream and custard with a light dusting of icing sugar and cocoa powder on the top
Savoury variation ideas:
Cut in half and place a small bed of lettuce inside then dress with meats and other salads, tuna fish, cheddar cheese, blue cheese mixed with fine chopped celery, sliced eggs or egg mayonnaise, coleslaws
For the diet concuss you could use Low Fat Cottage Cheese or just salad vegetables
Use as a meal starter, using an attractive glass with a prawn cocktail filling, salmon or even with a pate filling decorated with a little crisp green salad
Fried variation idea:
Fried choux pastry makes an excellent dessert, place into an attractive glass and drench liberally with Rum, Brandy, Whisky or Liquors then top of with whipped fresh cream, chocolate chips or crushed nuts, you can even fill the pastry with your favourite ice cream
The variations of fillings can be as wide as your imagination
For choux éclairs make a sausage length of the mixture using a piping bag and bake in the same way
For mini dry biscuit choux put teaspoons of the mixture onto the baking trays and sprinkle the tops with white or black sesame seeds, parmesan cheese or even chopped nuts but bake in slower oven at (180c) until golden and crisp, store in air tight container
Choux pastry can also be fried; scrape dessertspoons of choux mixture into a wok of pre heated oil of 180c using wood spatulas to turn the products over so fried evenly on both sides until golden, remove from oil and place onto kitchen towel to drain and cool then decorate
Cornish pasty recipe
¼ cup/50g onion, finely chopped and then gently sautéed in olive oil
½ cup /110g potato, cut into 1/4 inch /5 mm dice, gently boiled but not over cooked
½ cup /110g, cut Swede into 1/4 inch /5 mm dice, gently boiled but not over cooked
4oz /110g rump steak, cut into small cubes, then gently cooked in olive oil until just tender
Add Salt and pepper to taste
Once all is cooked: place the onion, potato, Swede and meat into a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly
Season well with salt and pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten for brushing over pasties before baking
200 grams plane flour “Or” you can use all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
110 grams firm butter cut into small cubes, if you wish you can use equal mix of better and lard
2-3 tablespoons of very cold water
Note: this makes about 300 grams of pastry
Put the flour, salt and butter into a large mixing bowl
Rub together with your fingers until it resembles fine bread crumbs
Add in the cold water and gently bind the mix together, do not over mix or the pastry will be tough: add more cold water if needed
Wrap the pastry in plastic or Clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes before processing.
Once chilled process as follows:
Divide the pastry into 4 and roll each piece into rounds the size of a tea plate (approx 6 - 7 inches).
Divide the meat mixture between each pastry circle and place to one side of the circle. Brush the edges with a little beaten egg.
Fold the circle in half over the filling so the two edges meet. Crimp the two edges together to create a tight seal. Brush each pasty all over with the remaining beaten egg.
Place the pasties on a greased baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve hot or cold.
135 grams Caster sugar
60 grams Eggs = (2 small eggs)
500 grams all purpose flour
Half a teaspoon baking powder
275 grams Butter or high quality margarine
Few drops vanilla essence
Dissolve the sugar in the eggs along with the vanilla essence
Into a mixing bowl sift the flour and baking powder together
Using your fingers rub the butter or margarine into the flour mixture s that it resembles fine bread crumbs
Add in the egg and sugar mixture and mix all together to form a smooth pastry but do not over mix or kneed the pastry otherwise it will became tough and stringy.
If the pastry feels a bit soft just wrap in Clingfilm and place in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes to rest and it will become firm.
Any pastry left over after making your sweet pies can be kept in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer until needed
This type of pastry is ideal for any type of sweet pasty pies or slices
Alternatively instead of vanilla essence you could add Almond flavor or any other type of flavor that you might like and depending on the end product that you are making.
You could also add Orange and Lemon zest to give your pastry that little bit of extra tasty zing
Nutty Shortcrust Pastry
300gr all purpose flour
Quarter teaspoon of salt
1 Small teaspoon baking powder
100gr ground raw almonds or ground raw peanuts or hazelnuts or walnuts (of your own choose)
170gr cold butter cut into small pieces
2 pieces cold whole egg (beaten together)
3-4 tablespoons of cold water +/-
Sift together flour and Baking powder
Add in the salt and ground nuts and blend together
Add in the cold butter and blend it in with your finger so that it resembles fine bread crumbs
Add in the 2 eggs and gently start mixing together
Then add in the water a little at a time and bring the mixture all together to form a slightly soft pastry
Wrap the pastry in Clingfilm / plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes, then use in the normal way to make you pie...
If you want your pastry to be a slightly sweeter pastry then add 50gr of caster sugar at the beginning of mixing
An alternative variation is to mix some chocolate chips or chunks of chocolate into the pastry for the pie toping
Filo pastry, Christmas mince pies
Just increase the recipe appropriately to make more of these tasty Christmas treats
6 sheets Filo pastry, 30 x 50 cm (12 x 20 in) each, about 180 g (6¼ oz) in total
45 g (1½ oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
You can buy readymade Filo pastry in any good supermarkets chilled foods section
150 g (5½ oz) mixed dried fruit, such as sultanas, raisins, currants and diced peel
4 tbsp brandy
1 cooking apple, about 250 g (8½ oz)
30 g (1 oz) preserved stem ginger, finely chopped
25 g (scant 1 oz) chopped walnuts
Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
To make the filling, place the dried fruit in a bowl with the brandy and stir. Cover and leave to soak for 1 hour or until the brandy has been absorbed.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, gas mark 6). Peel, core and coarsely grate the apple. Add to the soaked dried fruit together with the ginger, walnuts and lemon zest. Mix well together.
Lay the sheets of Filo out, stacking them on top of each other. Cut the stack into six 15 cm (6 in) squares, trimming off the excess pastry. You will have 36 squares.
Brush each square very lightly with melted butter and layer them, with the corners offset, to make 12 stacks of 3 squares each.
Place about 1 tablespoon of the fruit mixture on each stack, then gather up the edges and pinch together at the top to enclose the filling.
Place the pastries on a non-stick baking sheet and brush lightly with the remaining butter.
Bake for 12–15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm, dusted with icing sugar.
You don’t just have t have this type of product at Christmas time as you can make the same type of thing with any other type of filing and even savory fillings