Puff Pastry

Several years ago, my eldest nephew gave me Baking with Julia, after I started making a name for myself in the family for my desserts. It was a great gift.

One of the very first things I tried was the puff pastry. My mom is a fan of onions, and Julia’s book has a recipe for Alsatian Onion Tart that I made for a special occasion. It required the puff pastry, and though I’ve only made the onion tart a couple of times, I make the puff pastry at least once a year. You can use it for sweet or savory purposes.

A few years ago, I got obsessed with empanadas, so I tried them several ways. I used pie crust and puff pastry and wonton wrappers for the outsides, and concluded that a delicious filling goes with anything, but everything’s better with puff pastry. Flaky and buttery, it’s a bit more work for a bunch better result.

I decided to make it this week because it’s better to have it on hand. It freezes well, and makes two healthy pie crusts.

It starts with a pretty basic flour/salt/ice water dough. Julia calls for a combination of all purpose and cake flour, but for now, I’m an all-purpose girl.

While it chills, you put a pound of cold butter between two sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin, until it’s about an inch thick.

Take the dough out, roll it to a 10-inch square. Put the butter in the center of it, then roll out the ends to make flaps. Fold the flaps over the cold butter. Then roll the dough with the butter inside it to a length of 24 inches. Fold it in thirds lengthwise. This is one turn.

You repeat for a total of six turns, being sure not to let the dough get too warm or oozy (refrigerate it, if it does). Julia’s book says this gives you something like 993 layers, a nod to mille feuille, a thousand layers.

It sounds like more work than it is, and it’s worth every bit of effort—give it a try!


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