The Culinary Architect: Making an occasion with puff pastry

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Puff pastry, also known as pate feuilletee in France, is a basic, time-consuming recipe that turns every day foods into a spectacular dish.

“Feuilletee” translates to mean hundreds of leaves.

With the proper technique, you can turn flour and butter into impressive hundreds of layers.

Once you have mastered making puff pastry, you may easily freeze it for up to three months, allowing you to use it at the spur of the moment to create stunning hors d’oeuvres, grand first courses and entrees and dramatic desserts.

Many of you have emailed and asked me how to make puff pastry — so, grab your flour and butter and give puff pastry a whirl… your friends and family will be impressed!

 

MENU IDEAS FOR PUFF PASTRY

Parmesan Cheese Straws

Vol au Vent Pastry Shells*

Beef Wellington*

Palmiers*

Napoleons*

*recipe not given…Read Julia Child’s “Mastering The Art of French Cooking: Volume Two,” for excellent recipes using puff pastry.

Basic Puff Pastry

Makes about 3 pounds

3 cups (14 ounces)

all-purpose flour, plus

more for dusting

1 cup (5 ounces)

cake flour (not self-

rising)

1 tblsp salt

1 tblsp sugar

1 lb. (4 sticks) un

salted butter, cold,

plus 1 stick (1/2

cup), cold, cut into

small pieces

1. In a large bowl, combine 2 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour with the cake flour, salt and sugar.  

With a pastry blender, cut in the butter pieces (1 stick) until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few larger clumps remaining.  

Make a well in the center and pour in 1 cup cold water (cold water is essential to making proper puff pastry), slowly draw the flour mixture over the water, gathering and combining until mixture comes together to form a dough.  

If the dough is too dry, add more cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time.  

Knead the dough gently in the bowl, and form dough into a ball.  

Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 40 minutes or up to 2 hours. 

(Chilling is essential to making puff pastry.)

2. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour on a sheet of parchment or a silpat on your counter. 

Lay remaining 4 sticks of butter on top, side by side; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons flour.  

Top with more parchment; pound butter with a rolling pin until it is about 1/2-inch thick.  

Remove top paper, fold butter in half, replace paper; pound butter until it is 1/2-inch thick.  

Repeat two or three more times until it is pliable.  

Using a bench scraper, shape butter into a 6-inch square; wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 10 minutes.

3. Lightly dust work surface with flour.  

Roll out dough to a 9-inch round; place butter package in center.  

Using a paring knife or bench scraper, lightly score dough to outline butter square.  

Remove butter; set aside.  

Starting from each side of marked square, gently roll out dough to form four flaps, each 4 to 5-inches long; do not touch square.

Place butter in the center of the square, then fold your flaps over butter.  

Press with your hands to seal.

4. With the rolling pin, gently pound the dough all over until it is about 1-inch thick; this will soften the dough, making it easier to roll.  

Working in only one direction (lengthwise), gently roll out the dough to a 20-by-9-inch rectangle, squaring corners with the side of the rolling pin or your hands as you go.  

Using a dry pastry brush, sweep off excess flour.  

With a short side facing you, fold the rectangle in thirds like a business letter.  

Turn the dough a quarter turn clockwise, so the flap opening faces right, like a book.  

(This completes the first turn.)  

Roll out the dough again to a 20-by-9-inch rectangle, rolling in the same lengthwise direction; fold dough again into thirds.  

(This completes the second turn. Each turn makes many layers.)  

Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.

5. Repeat the rolling, turning and chilling process for a total of six turns; always start each turn with the opening of the dough to the right.  

(If at any time the dough becomes too soft, place it in the refrigerator until firm.)  

Wrap dough in plastic; refrigerate 3 to 4 hours before using the dough.

6. If not using right away, freeze well wrapped for future use.

Flaky Parmesan Cheese Straws (reprinted from The Island Now Publications, April 14, 2017)

Puff pastry sheets are available in the freezer section of most supermarkets or freshly made at Culinary Architect Catering, 28 Chestnut St. in Greenvale. 

Please call to check availability 516-484-7431.

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ sheet of dough (Note: A whole sheet

makes approx. 45-50 pieces)

Pepper to taste

Egg wash – 1 egg mixed with cream

Extra flour

1. Roll out dough.

2. Brush with egg wash.  

Sprinkle with pepper and grated cheese.  

Cut with a pizza wheel.  

Freeze until baking.

3. To bake, preheat oven to 425 degrees.  

Place straws on a silpat-lined baking sheet.  

Bake until lightly done, approximately 10-15 minutes.

Alexandra Troy is the owner of Culinary Architect Catering, a 32-year-old, Greenvale-based company, specializing in private, corporate and promotional parties.

She lives in Manhasset with her husband and son.

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