PUFF-PASTRY. 

Puff pastry products such as  sausage rolls, eccles cakes, cream horns, vol-au-vents, Palmiers , Mille-feuille, ect all require different  amounts of lift and lightness and whilst they all could be made from any of the following methods, it is more practical to make a paste that is suitable  for the product that is to be produced.

Making puff pastry is a long and complex operation and one of the main reasons why the home baker does not tackle this product too often. It is also a good reason to purchase ready made Puff which is now widely available, usually Frozen and a good way for the beginner or those short of time to produce puff pastry goods.

Whilst these notes are intended for the more serious home baker and Student baker who wish to improve their pastry skills and knowledge, they should be of help to the beginner and less experienced home baker. We can assure you that there is nothing more rewarding than producing, from scratch, a light, flakey, buttery, melt in the mouth, puff pastry product.

 To produce good puff pastry, consistently, requires experience and skill.


The three main types of puff pastry are FULL,THREE-QUARTER and HALF. The Difference between them being the total fat content.


FULL puff contains flour and fat in equal ratio.


THREE-QUARTER puff contains 75% of fat to each pound of flour.


HALF contains 50% of the flour weight.


There are three main methods of making Puff Pastry.


(1) SCOTCH.        (2) ENGLISH.       (3) FRENCH.



The differences in method are in the way in which the fat is incorporated.


The ideal working temperature of the fat should 16-18C (61-65F) If the fat is too cold it will rupture the dough layers, if it is too soft it will be be squeezed out so preventing the formation of layers.


A strong flour (breadmaking) is the best to use as it contains a high percentage of gluten for resilience and elasticity. This allows the pastry to stand up to all the manipulation involved during the Lamination process and will help in giving the lift to the pastry in the oven. The ultimate aim of the baker is to produce a dough that is the same consistency as that of the butter being used at 16-18C to create the layers of fat.

A weak acid, such as lemon juice, can be added, this will give a greater extensibility to the gluten.

Commercially there are many types of pastry fat available, that are "tough" and able to be "plasticised" but unfortunately a lot have a melting point above body temperature 37C (98.6F) so that when you eat the pastry it does not "melt in the mouth" leaving a film of fat in the roof of your mouth.

The best fat to use is butter for its wonderful flavour but it needs to be of the best quality and ideally of the toughened variety.

Note:   For the beginner and less experienced we recommend that you use the 3/4 Puff Recipe made by the Scotch Method. 

We would also recommend, good quality unsalted butter for the home baker.  

                            

 




 

Ingredients 


500g (1lb 2oz) Strong Bread Flour

                  8g  (1/4oz )  Salt 

              284g  (10oz) Cold Water

              250g (9oz) Butter (unsalted)  


Total weight    1k  42g (2lb  5oz)

  No 1.    METHOD OF MIXING (Scotch method only)

(1) Sieve together into a mixing bowl, the flour and the salt.

(2) Cut the butter into small cubes (size of walnuts)  do not add at this stage but keep cool.

(3) Add the cold water to the flour/salt in the bowl and mix to half clear.

(4) Add the cubed butter and continue to mix. Do not over mix as this will produce short pastry instead of puff. You should still be able to see lumps of butter in the paste when finally mixed.

(5) Place a cloth or cling film over the bowl and put in the fridge for at least 15 minutes so as to cool the butter and allow the gluten to rest and recover.

(6) The paste is now ready to Laminate.

Note: If using salted butter, omit the salt from the recipe.

   PRINT VERSION




 


3/4 puff

250g (9oz)   Strong (bread)Flour

       Salt        Pinch

  25g (11/2)   Butter

140g (5oz)   Water



165g (6oz)    Unsalted Butter



No 2.

METHOD OF MIXING  (For French and English method.)

(1) Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.

(2) Add the butter and rub into the flour.

(3) Add the cold water and mix until a clear dough is formed.

(4) Remove from bowl , wrap in cling film or place in freezer bag and put in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to allow the gluten to recover.

(5) Weigh the butter, place in the refrigerator in preparation for the next stage.

Note : if using salted butter, omit the salt from the recipe.

This recipe can also be made by the Scotch Method,as described above.

PRINT VERSION



 


FULL PUFF 


250g (9oz)   Strong (Bread) Flour.

              Salt  Pinch.

  30g (11/2oz) Butter.

140g (5oz)    Cold Water.



220g ( 71/2oz) Unsalted Butter.

    No 3

METHOD OF MIXING (For French and English method)

(1) Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl.

(2) Add the butter and rub into the flour.

(3) Add the cold water and mix until a  clear dough is formed.

(4) Remove from the bowl, wrap in cling film or place in a freezer bag and put in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to allow the gluten to recover .

(5) Weigh the butter, place in the refrigerator  in preparation for the next stage.

Note: If using salted butter, omit the salt from the recipe.This recipe can also be made by the Scotch method, great care must be taken to ensure that it is not over mixed.

      

  PRINT VERSION


 


INCORPORATING  THE BUTTER (or pastry fat)


FRENCH METHOD    (print version)

(1) Remove the prepared dough and measured butter from the fridge.

(2) Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface. With a sharp knife make two cuts to form a cross  to half the depth of the dough (photo 1 below).

(3) Carefully pull out the four points and with a rolling pin extend the points making them thinner than the middle(photo2).

(4) Form the butter into a square (photo 3) to a size suitable to fit the middle of the dough. This can be achieved by using a rolling pin or by cutting the butter as in the second series of photos.

 (Click on thumbnails) 


 

After placing the prepared butter into the centre of the rolled dough start to fold in the 4 points to encase the butter fully in the dough. This will form the Envelope that is characteristic of the French method, this will give you two layers of dough and one layer of butter.

 Return to the fridge for 10 minutes.

The pastry is now ready for the LAMINATION stage.

(click on thumb nails)



ENGLISH METHOD (Print version)

(1) Remove the dough and measured butter from the fridge.

(2) Place the dough onto a lightly dusted surface and roll out to a rectangle, 1.25cm (0.5in) thick. The rectangle should be three times longer than the width (as illustrated by the forks in photo1).

(3) Prepare the butter by cutting into thin slices and lay over two thirds  of the dough (photo 3) . An alternative method to cutting the butter is , with the aid of a rolling pin, form it into a thin sheet to the size required. Do not allow the butter to become too soft. This can be done between two pieces of cling film or just rolling and beating with the rolling pin, make sure that both surfaces are dusted with flour (judiciously), just enough to ensure the butter does not stick to the surface or the pin.

(4) Fold the uncovered third of dough over the butter (photo 4).

(5) Fold again(photo 5) to obtain three layers of dough and two layers of butter.

     The pastry is now ready for the LAMINATION stage.


 (Click on thumb nails)



THE LAMINATION (Turning) PROCESS 


Which ever way that you have chosen  to produce your Puff Pastry, Scotch, French or English the lamination process is the same for all three.

There are two methods of lamination for puff pastry.

(1) HALF TURN

(2) BOOK TURN


HALF TURN (Print Version)

The pastry needs 6 half turns to create the required numbers of layers of dough and butter.

(1) Roll out the pastry to a rectangle,1.25cm (0.5in) thick, with the length three times the width. Brush off any excess flour before the next stage.

(2) Fold the paste into 3 by folding the bottom third up over the middle third. Fold the top third down to complete the half turn  (see end view diagram below) as in photos 3 and 4. This is one HALF TURN. 

(3) You now need to turn the pastry through 90 degrees (photo 5,6) this is to ensure that the gluten is stretched evenly so that any shrinkage in baking will be even. If you just kept rolling in one direction baked circles are likely to come out of the oven oval. Always brush off excess flour before folding.

(4) Repeat the process once more, the paste will now have had 2 half turns.Cover with cling film or plastic bag to avoid skinning and place in fridge for 20 minutes to allow the gluten to rest and relax.

(5) Repeat the process above, this will give you four turns.

(6) Rest for 20 minutes and then repeat again to obtain the 6 half turns required.

(7) Return to the fridge covered and leave to rest at least 20 minutes before  using.

 TIP. Always ensure that the closed side is on the your right side and that the three open sides are top, bottom and left  before rolling out the next turn. (photo 6). This will ensure the even stretching of the gluten.


 

BOOK TURN (Print Version)

The pastry needs 6 half turns to create the required numbers of layers of dough and butter.

(1) Roll out the pastry to a rectangle 1.25cm (0.5in) thick with the length three times the width as with above.

(2) Fold both ends until they meet in the centre. (see diagram and photos 2,3)

(3) Fold the pastry in half again to complete the book turn. This is equal to 2 half turns.(photo 4 end view)

(4) Cover and leave in fridge for 20 minutes to allow the gluten to relax and recover.

(5) Repeat stages 1to 3 and rest 20 minutes in fridge. (pastry has now had equivalent of 4 half turns)

(6) Repeat stages 1to 3 and rest in fridge for 20 minutes. 

(7) Finally roll out the pastry to an oblong and fold in half. Refrigerated for 20 minutes. 

The Pastry is now ready to be used.

   

  ( Click on thumbnails)

  


As this is a complex subject, further information on the differences between the methods are posted in the  Theory section.