As someone who loves working with puff pastry yet rarely finds enough time to do so, I must say, day three at the King Arthur Flour blog and bake was top-notch.
Imagine an entire day dedicated to pastry. Savory and sweet.
We learned how to make portables pies (toaster pastries and empanadas) in the morning class with Robyn and by early afternoon, Susan showed us how to make blitz puff pastry (fruit tarts and pesto palmiers). At home, Luke is my kitchen sidekick and before I left for Norwich, I promised I would return with lots of baking secrets to share. He likes to bake as much as I do, if not more.
There is something utterly sublime about working with puff pastry or pâte feuilletée (pastry made leaf-like) as the French say. The pastry layers (or leaves) alternate between flour and butter and when placed in the oven, the butter gets all hot and steamy and puffs up between each layer of flour which results in flaked buttery goodness.
Classic puff pastry uses equal parts butter and flour to create 729 layers of folded dough (according to The Original King Arthur Flour Cookbook) and when traditionally made requires 6 or 7 hours to form and bake. The classic version is often used to make croissants, éclairs, napoleons, Pithiviers (almond tarts), vol-au-vent, among others.
Blitz puff pastry, on the other hand, is named so for a reason. It’s fast. Lightning fast. As in, puff pastry in less than one hour. Classic pastry remains well, classic.
Hours spent rolling, folding, chilling, and shaping dough the dough is heroic and skilled work and when time allows, the method should be tried at least once.
However, when Susan showed us the super short-cut version, I knew I would be making puff pastry more often. The blitz method uses the magic tenderizing properties of sour cream along with flour, salt, baking powder and butter to give it the pastry’s signature delicate structure, albeit it turns out a slighter puff.
After Susan showed us how to make the pastry, we rolled out nectarine and strawberry tarts and palmiers (either cinnamon and sugar or pesto, I made the later) and then toured the test kitchen and warehouse before hitting the road (and museum for me).
Luke and I will be rolling out a batch soon, before the weather gets too hot for anything but salad and popsicles.
Also, you can catch on part one (bread basics) of my trip to King Arthur Flour here. I filmed this video of Susan’s short-cut pastry technique so you can see how the dough comes together. I think you’re going to the blitz method.
Blitz Puff Pastry
recipe from King Arthur Flour (reprinted with permission)
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled well and cut into chunks
1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream
In a medium bowl, blend the flour, salt and baking powder. Cut in the chilled butter, leaving larger pieces intact. Incorporate the sour cream; the dough won’t be cohesive at this point.
Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and bring it together with a few quick kneads. Pat the dough into a square and roll it into an 8×10-inch rectangle, using plenty of flour to keep from sticking.
Dust the excess flour off the surface of the dough, and fold in three (like a business letter).
Flip the dough over, give it a 90 degree turn, and repeat the process. Chill dough 30 minutes before using.
Disclaimer: As always, the opinions expressed here are entirely my own. King Arthur Flour provided me with classes, accommodations, and meals during my stay.