26 May 2011

Rough Pastry Dough Begets Strawberry Puff Triangles

Way, way, way back I posted a photo, and quick description of, palmiers. Made from a very simple version of puff pastry dough that doesn't require making a detrempe. For those that don't speak French and don't know how to use a search engine, "detrempe" translates roughly to "what the fuck have I gotten myself into that was way more work than I thought and it isn't even the dough yet". Keep in mind my French is a little rusty, so I'd ask a professional translator to really get a feel for the subtleties in that. I don't know why I haven't made more puff pastries since then; I guess biscuits/scones are fairly close. Also, I've been eating some delicious pastries recently from Tell Tale Preserves - it seems all of my favorite hip/trendy/urban/home office coffee shops have started stocking them. They make these grownup versions of pop-tarts, as well as basically what I'm making below, but in a larger size. And tastier, but I'll work on that.
I'm going to give you two recipes below - one for the dough, and one for the pastry itself. You can use this dough anywhere a recipe asks for "puff pastry" without running to the store to find some. Some recipes you will see require several days of work - those are probably better. This stuff just gets the job done, looks good while doing it, and only needs ~45 minutes (most of that spent sitting in the freezer, actually). You'll get slightly less defined layering, but still all of the light crisp and flakiness you would find in a three-day concoction.
Rough Puff Pastry Dough
2 parts (by weight) butter
2 parts (by weight) pastry flour
1 part (by weight) water
lots and lots of additional flour in reserve

(For the math-challenged, this means for every stick of butter you need about one cup of flour and 1/4 cup water).

Chop the butter into cubes, then place all the ingredients (each in a separate container) into the freezer for about 15 minutes - don't let the water freeze. On a work surface, put down some of the flower, place the butter on top, then put the rest of the flour on top. With a pastry blade, cut the flour into the butter briefly, getting the butter into tiny chunks. It should look like this.
Once the butter and flour are a pile of delicious, fatty rubble, pour a little bit of water on top and cut the water in. You don't want to pour too much water on, as it won't get absorbed and you'll just end up with a wet work surface/counter/pants. Continue this process, pouring in a little water and cutting it in, until you don't have any more water. Now your pile of rubble is starting to gain sentience - it'll look like below. Quickly, before it becomes a seething mass of butter-golem, intent on destroying squishy human flesh - roll it flat!
This stage is a little tricky - for the first flattening, you should kind of pat it flat with a floured pastry blade. Then, turn the top third of the blob over itself, then the bottom third. Lift it with pastry blade, flour underneath, put it down so the folds are now vertical, flour the top, and roll it out with a pin. Do this process at least 4 more times, if not more, but do not let the butter melt at all. The first fold won't be much of one as it will be chunky - after 2-3 folds/rolls, it should be one cohesive piece.
 On the left is it right after the first fold, on the right after the 4th roll.
Now that your dough is one piece and rolled flat, fold it up one more time, wrap it in plastic wrap, and put it in the freezer (if using it within 15 minutes), the fridge (if using it sometime from 30 minutes from now until a day or two later), or in a very deep grave (if you aren't planning on using it and wish to stop the butter-golem uprising).

Jam Puff Pockets
Some amount of above recipe (I used 1 stick of butter worth)
Granulated sugar
Powdered sugar
(optional) milk (cow, soy, coconut, doesn't really matter).

A note - mine were not very sweet, so the recipe has been modified to add a little bit more sugar than I used. The glaze should really push it into sweet land, but is entirely optional. I didn't use it. You could also try putting in a bit more jam, but that requires thinner dough and probably making squares, not triangles.

Preheat oven to 400. Line a work surface with granulated sugar, and roll the dough out into, roughly, a rectangle-ish shape. Go for something very thin. Using a pastry cutter, chef's knife, or some other long thing, cut the dough into a grid of squares. I'll just say 3 inches by 3 inches, but only because I suck at estimating distance and that seems like a good number.

Sprinkle a little bit more sugar on top of the squares, then put a very tiny dab of jam in the center. You can either fold it in half diagonally and seal the sides, or put one square on top of another and make ravioli-ish pastries. Either way, be very careful to only put pressure on the edges so you don't squeeze the jam out. Press a fork along the edges to give it some nice texture.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place the prepared pastries. If you want, you can make a glaze by combining a little bit of milk into some sugar and whisking, adding milk slowly until it hits the consistency you like. Spread some of this on the pastries, but leave some in reserve. Either way, sprinkle powdered sugar on top.
Cook for 15-25 minutes, depending on how thick the dough was and how brown they get. If using a glaze, let them cool for about 10 minutes then apply another bit of glaze. Either way, wait until they have cooled completely and add sugar again. Then eat them.

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