Friday, March 19, 2010

Puff Pastry Two Ways: A

It's Spring Break, and I finally have a break from my studies. So what better way to spend my break, than making puff pastry. And I have two recipes for the stuff, one from Julia Child, the other from Fr. Capon, so why not make both and compare techniques and results? And if there's time, make Fr. Capon's Danish Pastry too. (I still haven't gotten to that last one.)

The interesting thing about the two recipes is how different they are. Fr. Capon emphasizes that you should not use a bowl--to minimize the amount of kneading, I believe--tells you to use bread flour, has you knead the butter under water, and includes no butter in the pastry layers. Mrs. Child has you use a bowl, includes butter in the pastry, and flour in the butter, does not have you knead the butter under water, and adds some cake flour to the regular flour. Oh, and Fr. Capon has you measure the butter by weight, Mrs. Child, by volume.

The basic idea for puff pastry is fairly straight forward. Make rough dough with as little water and as little kneading as possible, knead butter to make it smooth (but keep it cold as you knead it), fold up the butter into the pastry (like you're wrapping the butter up as a Christmas present), roll out the pastry with the butter in it, fold it neatly (Julia Child says in thirds, like a business letter, Fr. Capon has you fold up the ends to the middle, and the fold in in half), roll it out, repeat six times, chilling after every two. These pictures are from Fr. Capon's recipe. Julia Child's will follow early next week.

Inauspicious beginnings of the turnovers.

It's beginning to look like dough. Kinda.

Dough. 14.2 oz of it.

And 7.1 oz of butter. (Somehow it lost 0.1 oz while I was taking pictures.)

7.1 oz of butter, ready to be kneaded.

7.1 oz of butter, kneaded into a nice pliable log. (I then made it into more of a square so it would fit in the dough better.)

I forgot to take pictures of the dough just after the butter has been added. But here it is after a couple of turns.

These will be fig and raspberry turnovers.

Ready for baking.

The finished product.

I'll post on Julia Child's method later--I'm done with the dough, but I don't think I'll make turnovers till Monday. Kneading the butter under water worked marvels. It remained cool, but was very very pliable--I wouldn't have guessed there was butter wrapped inside the dough when I rolled it out the first time.


  1. Yum. Making Father Capon's strudel recipe is high on my bucket list....

  2. Oh man, you should definitely go for it. Even I'm intimidated by his strudel recipe. I'll be super impressed if you pull it off. (And tell me how it goes.)

    "The ultimate transfiguration of noodle dough, however--the final revelation of pasta in excelsis--comes only when you reach the subject of strudel. It is in strudel dough that the gludinous properties of flour enter into the new Jerusalem in a triumph of elasticity."