What makes puff pastry so light and crispy? Well, the secret is in the folding. Puff pastry is made by placing chilled butter (or sometimes lard) between sheets of dough, then folding and rolling it many times to create hundreds of layers. As it cooks, steam lifts and separates the layers, resulting in a crisp, flaky pastry suitable for the tops of pies or the classic French dessert, mille-feuille (translates a “a thousand leaves”).
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 3 sheets
- 225g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 30g lard, chopped
- 125ml (1/2 cup) iced water
- 200g butter
- Place the flour and salt in a large bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the lard into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the water and use a round-bladed knife to stir until a dough forms. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until just smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
- Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out the dough to a 10 x 30cm rectangle. Place butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and tap with a rolling pin to make a 8 x 9cm rectangle. Lay dough on a lightly floured surface with a short edge closest to you. Remove the plastic wrap from the butter and place in the centre of the dough. Fold the end closest to you over the butter, then fold the opposite end over the top (the butter should now be enclosed in the dough).
- Turn dough 90° clockwise and gently press edges together. Use a lightly floured rolling pin to gently tap to flatten butter. Roll out dough to a 10 x 30cm rectangle and repeat folding process as before. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
- Remove dough from the fridge and repeat rolling and folding process 2 more times. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest. Repeat rolling and folding process a further 2 times and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest. (Dough should have been folded and rolled 6 times altogether.)
Notes & tips
- Makes: the equivalent of 3 sheets (25 x 25cm) ready-rolled puff pastry
- Prep: 30 mins (+ 2 hours resting time)
- Lard is rendered animal fat and is available in the dairy section of your supermarket, near the butter.
- When making puff pastry, both the ingredients and the equipment should be as cool as possible.
- Chill dough between folding so the butter doesn’t melt into the dough and the layers remain separate.
- Use a short, quick rolling action so the butter is gradually and evenly distributed between the layers.
- Roll lightly so the butter doesn’t tear the layers and break through.
- The pastry should be chilled and rested before cooking and the oven must be hot so the pastry puffs before the butter melts and runs out.
- When cutting and trimming pastry, use a sharp knife that cuts quickly and easily without dragging.
Australian Good Taste – April 2003 , Page 80