Huff'n puff pastry

Mushroom sauce in a puff pastry case

Time for Pâte Feuilletée. It’s certainly true that buying puff pastry is easier than making it, but making it is actually way more fun than you think. Crimping is for wimps but you gotta be tough to make puff. It requires a bit of welly, and sure it’s a technical feat too, but I’ll definitely be doing it more.

It starts with making the detrempe. This is the pastry before the butter. Then it rests in the fridge. Next the butter gets included within the detrempe like putting a letter in an envelope. This is called Inclusion. The first turn is made and the dough rests again in the fridge. Later, turns 2 and 3 are done followed by another rest. Back into the fridge. Finally turns 4 and 5 then into the fridge overnight. Basically it’s a spa day for the pastry. While you’re working your bollox off, the pastry just lies there, getting massaged 6 times and takes long rests in between.

Fold down

Roll after inclusion of butter

Fold up

Mark first turn

729 layers of lamination in puff pastry turned 6 times

Because the butter must always be cold the rolling needs some elbow grease. The technical challenge is keeping the dough rectangular and the same thickness. You’d be surprised how unevenly we apply pressure to the ends of a rolling pin, sending the dough in all kinds of directions. When it’s rectangular with consistent height, there’s a better chance the butter is distributed evenly and the layers of pastry and butter uniform. The constant danger is butter breaking through the pastry. If this happens you make the next turn so the exposed butter is on the inside.

An inclusion plus 5 folds produces 729 layers of alternating butter and pastry. You never quite know how well you’ve made puff until it’s done its thing in the oven. Uneven lamination gives a wonky rise.

Mushroom sauce under the covers

The moment of truth. The pastry cases for my Bouchée aux Champignons de Paris rose straight up. Nice and even. Happy as Larry. Carefully cut the lid and remove. Push any puff layers down, then in with the creamy mushroom sauce. Lid on top.

Piping the Mornay onto the puff pastry base for my Allumettes au Fromage wasn’t pretty. I destroyed 2 piping bags. The first bag split. With the second one, I squeezed so hard I pushed the nozzle out of the end. Hand rolling Mornay cigars saved the situation. No thighs involved. Lesson learned. Retrieve the Mornay filling from the blast chiller earlier so it has a chance to warm up.

This stuff is classy nom and seriously delish. There really ought to be more 70’s-style buffets out there.

Puff pastry cheese stick

Cheesy goodness on the inside

I went home carrying as much leftover unbaked pastry as I could manage. The unspoiled puff can be used as is while the trimmings are squidged together to create rough puff. I’m thinking savoury Palmiers will be on the home menu. And here they are—cheese, red onion and rosemary.

Cheese palmiers with roasted red onion, rosemary