Sunday, January 3, 2010

Puff Pastry Curry Puffs

After learning how to make Croissants successfully, the next obvious laminated dough to try making is the Puff Pastry.  There are 3 types of laminated doughs, croissants, danish and puff pastry, and puff pastry base dough traditionally does not contain sugar.  Water is added to the dough, which ultimately creates steam in the oven.  Because yeast is not added to puff pastry dough, the steam is its only source of leavening.  To create hundreds of layers, the dough is repeatedly rolled out and folded in a specific way.  The sequence of rolling out the dough and folding it is known as a turn.   The more turns that the dough undergoes, the more layers that are created.  The dough is then rested in between making each turn.  There are two types of folding techniques used  on a laminated dough to complete a turn.  One  technique is known as the three-fold or letterfold,in which the dough is rolled out into a rectangle and then folded like a letter into thirds.  The second technique is known as the four-fold or bookfold in which the dough is rolled into a rectangle with the shorter two ends folded in to meet each other in the middle, then two halves are brought together in the middle to close like a book.  No matter which fold is used, the open ends are always folded in toward the center to ensure that fat stays enclosed. 

Puff pastry dough is traditionally given a bookfold (or four-fold) turn for a total of four times.  It is refered to as a 4 x 4.  Because no yeast or other leavening agent is used, puff pastry is dependent on the increased number of layers formed within the dough.  One bookfold turn creates more layers than one letterfold turn.  The more layers created, the greater the height in the final pastry.  Puff pastry is also given a rest in between each turn

Why resting the dough is necessary?  After each turn, laminated doughs are placed in the refrigerator to rest.    Resting accomplishes two goals.  First, resting allows any gluten that has formed to relax.  Second, during rolling and folding, heat is generated.  Often, the fat warms up and becomes soft(especially when using butter).  Resting the dough allows the fat time to firm up just enough before the next turn.  The resting period can last anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour between turns.  The fat should not be allowed to get too hard.  Some chefs place the dough in the freezer to speed this process.

A combination of high-protein and low protein flours is the best compromised for making tender, yet resilent, pastry.  The High protein content of bread flour gives a certain amount of 'give' or elasticity and added structure to the risen layers.  They have enough strength so that as they puff up their ultrafine layers do not break.  The gluten strands should have enough resiliency to stretch, yielding paper-thin layers.

A bookfold or four-fold turn requires the dough to be a longer length than does a letterfold or three-fold turn.  The exact dimensions of the rectangle is not important, the only thing to keep in mind is, make sure the dough is not rolled too thin or the height of the baked pastry will be compromised.

Tips for successful Laminated Pastries

For the base dough
  • Use a small amount of an acid asuch as lemon juice or vinegar to denature some of the protein in the flour, thereby relaxing the gluten just enough to allow better rolling out of the dough, reducing shrinkage.
  • Avoid overworking the dough to prevent too much gluten from forming
For Enclosing the Fat

  • Keep the fat and the dough the same temperture and consistency.

  • For small batches, place the butter between two pieces of plastic and hit it with a rolling pin.The friction from hitting the fat will produce heat, softening it to the the consistency of the dough.  For large-scale operations, the fat can be softened in an electric mixer using the paddle attachment.

  • For Folding and Layering
  • Always keep the work surface lightly floured.

  • Roll the dough in one direction only for each turn to maintain the rectangular shape

  • Keep the edges of the dough straight by squaring off the dough with the rolling pin.  This  is to maintain the rectangular shape of the dough.

  • When rolling the dough, if any fat becomes exposed, sprinkle flour on top of it and continue rolling.

  • Before folding the dough to complete a turn, be sure to brush excess flour off the dough using a pastry brush.

  • If at any time butter oozes out or is exposed before folding the douh, place the  exposed side up so the next fold will encase the exposed fat back into the dough.

  • Before each turn, rotate the dough 90 degrees so that when the short, open ends are folded in, the open sides exposing the fat are folded into the center, keeping the fat inside

  • After each turn, be sure the edges of the dough being folded over match the edges of the dough underneath to keep the layers intact.

  • After a turn is completed, press a finger into the dough to designte how many turns have been completed.  Once wrapped in plastic, a marker or pen can also be used.

  • After all the required turns, chill the dough overnight to relax the gluten and facilitate the rolling out process before shaping.

  • For Shaping and Baking
    • Brush off any excess flour before cutting and shaping the dough
    • Because puff pastry dough does not contain yeast, proofing is not necessary.


    Puff Pastry Dough:
    Makes approximately 2 pounds 8 ounces(1.13 kg)

    8 fl oz/1 cup/240 ml cold water
    1 tsp/6 g salt
    1 tsp/5 ml lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
    2 oz/4 tbsp/55g unsalted butter - melted
    4 oz/1 cup/115 g cake clour
    10 oz/2 cups/285g bread flour
    1 lb/2 cups/455 g unsalted butter, softened slightly
    2 oz/1/2 cup/60 g bread flour


    Preparing the base dough - In the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, blend the water, salt, lemon juice or vinegar, melted butter, cake flour, and enough of the bread flour to make a soft dough.  Do not overmix.

    Shape the dough into a rough rectangle, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it for 30 minutes.

    Preparing the butter to be enclosed - in the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, blend the 1 lb(2 cups/455g) of butter and the bread flour until the mixture is approximately the consistency of the base dough .

    Lay a long piece of plastic wrap on a work surface.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape the butter mixture onto the center of the plastic.  Cover with another piece of plastic and, using a rolling pin, gently hit and roll the butter to spread it into an 8 by 12 inch(20 x 30 cm) rectangle.  Chill the butter until the base dough has been rolled out.

    Enclosing the butter - roll out the chilled dough to a 12 x 18 inch(30 x 46 cm) rectangle, and place the butter on the dough so that it covers the bottom two thirds of the rectangle.

    Fold the top third of the unbuttered dough down to the middle, partially covering the butter.  Now fold the bottom buttered portion of the dough over the center to meet the other side, so that a rectangle forms.  Press down slightly, making sure the edges of the dough meet.  The butter is now enclosed.

    Completing One Four-Fold Turn or Bookturn - rotate the dough 90 degrees so that when the dough is rolled out, the open ends become the short sides of the rectangle.  Roll the dough to a 9 x 18 inch(23 x 46 cm) rectangle.  Fold the top edge of the dough to the center and the bottom edge up to the center.  The two edges should meet but not overlap.  Now bring the two halves together as if you are closing a book.  This is one compledted four-fold turn.  Press one finger into the dough to show one turn is complete, wrap in plasti wrap, and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  The plastic wrap can also be marked with a dot to reduce any confusion as to how many turns have been completed.

    Repeat rolling, folding, and marking the number of turns three more times for a total of 4 four-fold or bookturns, chilling the dough in between each completed turn.  After the final turn is complete, wrap the dough twice in plastic wrap and chill it overnight in the refrigerator.


    Prepare one recipe of puff pastry dough, using one half for this recipe and reserving the other half for another use.

    Recipe for the filling is here

    Preheat the oven to 400f(205 c).

    Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to 1/4 inch thickness.  Using a serrated cookie cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible.

    Brush the round with egg glaze making sure not to get the egg glaze to the edges.

    Fill the glazed rounds with a little of the curry filling and fold the round into a half enclosing the filling.  Press lightly at the edge to seal in the filling.  Using a smaller size cutter and on the blunt edge, press down to seal the filling.  Repeat this procedure for the rest of the pastry rounds.

    Glaze the top of curry puffs with egg glaze making sure again not to glaze the edges.

    Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until golden brown.

    Recipe adapted from Gail Sokol - About Professional Baking The Essentials

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