I’ve heard lots of things about puff pastry. “It’s difficult”, they say. “It’s time consuming”, they say. “It promises you everything and leaves you with NOTHING”, they say. Possibly. Maybe that’s shortcrust pastry. I’m not a pastry expert. Which probably makes you wonder why I’ve decided to do a step-by-step to puff pastry. But anyway, puff pastry is nowhere near as difficult as I’d convinced myself it would be!
I’ll admit, it is a bit cocky doing a puff pastry post given that yesterday is the first time I made it. But I thought I might as well document each step, and then if it went well I could post it! And if it didn’t go well, I could deny I’d ever attempted puff pastry.
It is time-consuming in that you have to let the pastry rest several times so start to finish is quite a lot of time, but there isn’t a lot of hands on time. Maybe you should be using that rest time to wash those dishes you’ve left in the sink all week, or do that extra load of clothes washing. Naughty.
Obviously you can use the puff pastry recipe for whatever you like. I made it purely to see if I could and then used it to make some sausage rolls. It’s a bit generous calling it a sausage roll recipe when it only uses pastry, sausages and a bit of egg wash, but I’ve included it at the bottom just in case you’re making the puff pastry just for the challenge and need something to use it up in. Now let’s make some dough!
Makes a 630g block
245g (8.75 oz) plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
250g (9 oz) block fridge-cold unsalted butter (40g cubed, the other 210g in a solid block which should be kept in the fridge)
130ml (4.5 fl oz) very cold water
Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and stir together. Add the 40g of cubed butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, like so:
Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in the cold water. Mix this together with a knife and then use your hands to bring the dough together, making sure you get all the floury bits which stick to the bottom of the bowl. Squidge together with your hands until the pastry feels even (this should only take a few minutes). Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for 25 minutes. Go wash those dishes.
When the dough has been in the fridge for about 15 minutes, remove the 210g block of butter from the fridge and place it between two pieces of greaseproof paper. Bash it with a rolling pin until it’s about half its original thickness and very pliable but still very cold. It should bend without cracking but should not be melting.
Unwrap the dough ball and place it on a lightly floured surface. Use a knife to cut a large cross in the top. The cut should be about halfway through the ball, like so:
Lift the four corners up and out and roll the dough out into a rough cross:
Put the bashed block of butter into the centre of the cross…
…and pull the four corners of the cross into the centre so that the butter is completely covered:
Seal the edges so that the butter can’t ooze out at any point.
Turn the dough upside down, dusting your work surface with more flour, and press it lightly with the rolling pin to flatten. Now roll the dough away from you until it is around 3 times as long as it is wide. Do not rotate the dough whilst rolling. I rolled mine into a rectangle roughly 15cm x 45cm (yes, I did measure).
Keep the edges square by pressing them with a palette knife or ruler. Lift the dough every so often to make sure it isn’t sticking and flour the rolling pin if it’s sticking to the dough.
Once you have done this, fold the top third of the dough into the middle (I measured my dough and lightly marked one edge into thirds with my fingertip):
Now fold the bottom third into the middle as well, so that your dough now has three layers. This is one “roll and fold”.
Use the rolling pin to gently seal the edges and rotate the dough 90C. Lightly flour the work surface again and complete another “roll and fold” by rolling the dough into a 15cm x 45cm rectangle and folding the top and bottom third into the middle.
You have now completed two roll and folds. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Remove the dough from the fridge (and take the clingfilm off) and put it back on the lightly floured surface. Give it two more roll and folds. Wrap it back up in it’s clingfilm and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes. At this point, you can keep it in the fridge for a couple of days or freeze it if you don’t want to use it straight away.
If you’re using it now, remove it from the fridge (and clingfilm) and give it two more roll and folds. Roll the dough out to the size you need for the recipe you’re using it in (30cm by 45cm if you are making the sausage rolls below) and place it on a baking tray. Cover the dough with oiled clingfilm and put it back in the fridge for 30 minutes. If you are using it for sausage rolls, continue as follows…
A Cafe Lula ‘recipe’
Makes around 21
630g (1.4 lb) block puff pastry as above, rolled out to approximately 45cm x 30cm
454g (1 lb) sausages, skins removed
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Once the pastry has rested in the fridge for 30 minutes, as at the end of the above recipe, lay it flat on a lightly floured work surface. Lay the sausages end to end, two to a row, evenly spaced (so you’ve got three rows of two sausages) like so (photo recycled from this post):
Check the spacing by rolling the pastry over the first and third sausage rows, checking that there is still enough pastry in the middle for the second row. If there is, yay, let’s make sausage rolls! If not, roll it out a bit more into a longer rectangle. If the sausages do not quite reach across the pastry, roll them between your hands to make them a bit longer and thinner.
Now cut the pastry into three equal strips with a row of sausages in each third. Brush the edges of each strip with some of the beaten egg, then roll the pastry over the sausages and seal along the egg-brushed edge. Once you have three massive sausage rolls, cut each of them into around 8 small sausage rolls. Brush the tops with some of the beaten egg, then place on a baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes (mine took 25 minutes). Check the sausage rolls and rotate the trays after about 15 minutes. Eat! Look, you made puff pastry and it’s ace!