Author Notes: This recipe looks daunting. We've been conditioned to believe that we can't make puff pastry at home, leave it to the professionals or get it from the freezer section. No more. Don't listen to Mary Berry or Paul Hollywood because even when this is done with a beginner's finesse, it is absolutely delicious.
Any of these steps can be either done in a mixer or by hand. I prefer not to haul out the mixer whenever possible, so I suggest your roll up you sleeves and use the best tools in your kitchen. —PieceOfLayerCake
Makes: 1 book
grams unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
grams all-purpose flour, divided
tablespoon kosher salt
milliliters cool water
tablespoons white vinegar
- Combine 400 grams of the butter and 175 grams flour in a bowl and beat together until smooth but not aerated. Scrape out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a rough rectangle (approx 6 x 8"). Allow to chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the dough.
- In a large bowl combine the remaining 350 g. flour and salt, tossing to combine. Add in the remaining 113 g. butter, water and vinegar and bring the ingredients together in a shaggy mess. Knead the dough in the bowl, or on a lightly floured work surface until its homogenous but not quite smooth. You're not really trying to form much gluten here, just bring it together into a dough. Form the dough in a rough rectangle approximately the size of the butter block. and allow to chill in the refrigerator for an hour.
- Depending on how warm your kitchen is, remove the butter from the refrigerator until its cool but pliable. It should be cool, but you should be able to put a defined finger print in it. Unwrap it and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Roll it out until its twice as long as twice as wide (approx 16 x 12" rectangle). You don't have to rush this process, but you don't want the butter to get too soft or melt. It should be easy...if its too soft or too brittle, store accordingly until ready. Place the chilled dough in the center of the butter rectangle and fold the butter around the dough, encasing it as evenly as possible. Using flour as necessary (but not excessively), roll the packet to a rectangle approximately 8 x 24". The size or shape of the rectangle doesn't matter too much, but try to get a thickness as close to ¼". Dusting off any excess flour, perform a "book fold". Bring the short edges of the rectangle into the center, then fold the dough in half, resembling a book. Wrap the book in plastic wrap and chill for an hour.
- Place the book back on the work surface and roll to the same dimensions. This time, perform a letter fold. Taking the short sides fold the rectangle in thirds, as one would a letter. Wrap and chill for another hour. Remove and repeat the instructions for the book fold.
- At this point, the puff pastry is formed. It should rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before using. I generally store the book(s) in the freezer until I'm ready to use. When I plan on using the puff pastry, I defrost the book in the refrigerator overnight.