Magic of Puff Pastry

23 Jul

I took a course in Puff Pastry last week at Vancouver Pastry School.  The instructor is amazing and thus far has brought my pastry/baking skills to the next level.   Usually I don’t get to make a variety of baked products at home as I am limited to what I can do but because I am taking these courses, I get to learn them.

Puff Pastry unlike all else is very technical, as I learned.  There are two types of puff pastry, inverse and traditional puff pastry.  In traditional puff pastry, the butter is inside the dough whereas in the inverse puff pastry, the butter is outside the dough.  At first, I thought??  How could that be fat outside, but there is brilliance behind it.  It so happens, in the invert puff pastry, the fat layer being on the outside helps maintain moisture hence the dough will not dry out.  Furthermore with the fat layer being on the outside it will add more lightness and volume to the dough when baked.

When folding puff pastry you fold it 4 times in the order of single, double, single and double.

Keys to a good volumed puff pastry learned from experience 🙂

  • Don’t over mix the dough
  • When incorporating the butter dough to the flour dough, make sure the fat layer is smooth, lump free, same texture and temp as the dough itself.  If there are lumps, the results are you would be frying the dough
  • Be gentle when handling the dough
  • Between folds, brush of any excess flour.  Flour between the layers would prevent the pastry from rising.
  • Between folds, it is important to allow the dough to rest a minimum of 20 minutes in the fridge.  It allows the butter between the layers of folding to firm up and gluten to relax. If you can place it in for longer better.  Puff pastry can be freezed.
  • When rolling out puff pastry try to keep the pastry nice and rectangular and don’t roll the dough too thin
  • Egg wash-Use it sparingly
  • Once assembled, prior to placing in oven, allow the dough to rest up again for at least 20 minutes.  I placed mine the the fridge.
  • Bake in higher heat at least 400 F otherwise the butter will melt and your pastry will not raise.

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Here is what mine looked like after I assembled the puff pastry.  I simply brush each pastry with enough egg wash and then coated it with sugar.  ***Not the entire pastry but where the egg wash is.   When baked it will be nice and crispy.
***Again, I can’t stress this enough, leave the dough to rest so the gluten could relax prior to baking it.  Bake for approx. 10-15 mins. until golden brown but you need to gage this as each individual oven and calibration is different.

I was estatic when I could see the puff pastry baking and rising.  Image

You will know when the puff pastry is baked when it slides off the easily.  Remove the pastry gently, if you remove it too hard the pastry will crumble or break.  Allow the pastry to cool; then you could fill it with custard and decorate the pastry.

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For mine, I filled the pastries with custard cream and dipped it in chocolate afterwards.  When the chocolate set, I lightly sifted some icing sugar onto the pastries.

Generally, the results where good, the pastry is light, fluffy and flaky.  The custard cream compliments the lightness as itself is quite light and not heavy.  As an alternative, nuts could be added to the dipped chocolate, but simple is better yes? 🙂

Vanilla Custard Cream (Creme Patissiere)

1 1/2 cups milk

1 egg

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon plain flour

1 tablespoon corn flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence (I used 1/2 vanilla bean)

1.  Heat Milk w/ vanilla.  ***Reserve some milk for egg/sugar mixture.  ***If want stronger vanilla flavour steep the milk w/ vanilla a while longer.

2.  Combine sugar, egg, cornstarch and flour with reserved milk and mix until smooth.

3.  When Milk w/ vanilla mixture is hot, pour into egg/sugar mixture.  Keep stirring while pouring hot milk mixture.

4. Return mixture to heat, stirring consistently to prevent burning.  Bring mixture to boil and the custard thickens and remove from heat and cool.

***If you want Diplomat Cream, just add whipped cream to the cool custard mixture.  Fold the whipped cream into the cooled custard mixture.  It is imperative that the custard is cooled prior to folding into the whipped cream or the cream will loose its volume.

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