Who doesn’t love puff pastry? Home cooks who effectively use it are offering their guests a gesture of sophistication and generosity. As a finished product puff pastry is outrageously flaky and full of flavor. It’s versatile: it’s perfect it in both savory and sweet applications, it can be simple and elegant or sophisticated and arty.
What gives puff pastry its incredible texture is a complex process. This process starts with a simple, unyeasted dough of flour and butter which is then “laminated” by interleaving cold dough with cold butter. It requires a deft hand, a smooth surface and a good rolling pin. All the ingredients need to be kept cold because it’s essential not to let the laminating butter actually combine with the dough. The end result must be a sheet of dough that consists of alternating micro-layers of dough and butter. Remember that this is an unleavened dough. The reason that puff pastry puffs is that those “micro-layers” of butter cause the “micro-layers” of flour to literally blast apart into ultra-fine, delicious sheets of baked, flaky crust. Any pastry cook will tell you this job is arduous and time-consuming. Probably the hardest job a baker does.
Fortunately, home cooks have frozen puff pastry dough sheets at their disposal. We carry two kinds at PFI:
1. all-butter puff pastry has that the stunning taste that only lots and lots of butter can instill and
2. half-butter puff pastry which contains vegetable shortening as well as butter which actually makes for a slightly taller puff.
Which you use is up to you obviously.
Caring for frozen puff pastry:
Cooking with frozen puff pastry:
Playing with Puff Pastry:
The shells in the accompanying photos are actually pretty simple to make with frozen puff pastry.
The photo to the left is a savory “mini-quiche” with Comte cheese, fresh thyme and sautéed shallot. The egg batter is roughly two tablespoons of cream for every large egg. Add some freshly ground white pepper and a bit of salt if needed.
For each shell, use a metal cutter cut out two shapes (circles, squares, whatever). Lay the first one on your cookie sheet. Using a smaller cutter, cut a circle out of the second one so that you have a ring, basically. Moisten one side of the ring with water and set it, moistened side down on top of the first shape. Press lightly. Lightly.
The shells to the right are filled with pastry cream and fresh raspberries. The effect is wonderful and addictive. Just make sure to fill them only just before serving and your friends will think you’re a magician.
Again, feel free to make the shells the day before but do not at any time refrigerate them.
At last, remember that there’s virtually no crusty, flaky purpose that puff pastry can’t be put to. It figures in classic dishes such as Beef Wellington. You can wrap brie in it, baking pastry and cheese together for a gooey marvel. You can make little, tasty sculptural plate decorations. Create sweet and savory napoleons. There’s no end to what you can do with frozen puff pastry.
And it’s right here in PFI’s freezer case. What could be easier?
Big John's PFI 1001 6th Avenue South Seattle, WA, 98118, USA
Monday: 9 AM - 5 PMTuesday: Friday: 9 AM - 6 PMSaturday: 10 AM - 4 PMSunday: CLOSED