Right, I think by this point I’ve got shortcrust pastry down. Butter; flour; fork until crumb-like; drip water; minimum mix; got it. It might also come out better in winter because that’s when my hands go ice-cold and apparently that helps. Shortcrust is fine.
Moving on, it was decided that I should try puff pastry next.
[insert gay pun joke here] (See what I did there?)
This is the point where I admit bad judgement. See, my ego had been, by this point, inflated by the success of tarts and meat pouches. I was the God of pastry, able to knead, mold and fill the floury paste with my bidding. All I touched would be golden and deliciously crumbly!
Alas, this journey into the land of the “thousand leafed” pastry would end with me sitting down and having a slice of humble pie (pun intended; you should expect this by now). Turns out puff pastry is difficult to get right; difficult enough to be impervious to beginners’ luck. Nevertheless, I plan on someday mastering it. Especially if I intend on making these* one day.
Before I forget, the filling here consisted of spinach, mushrooms, and feta cheese sautéed with sesame oil.
- 350 g flour
- 240 g (80+80+80) margarine
- 250 ml water
- pinch of salt
The instructions are fairly straight forward. You mix flour, water, and a bit of salt to make a basic dough. You shape it into a ball, cut an “x” on top (don’t ask me why) and leave it to rest for 10 minutes
Then, you roll out and stretch the dough into a rectangle and mentally divide it in three (I actually marked it with my knife). On two adjacent thirds of the rectangle, you place bits of margarine. I used butter, thinking it would be the same thing. You then fold over the non-buttered third onto the middle and once again, like really sloppy fold-rolling. Repeat. You get into a shampoo-like groove. Stretch, butter, repeat. The whole process should occur three times. Below is an example of my incredible dough stretching and butter spreading abilities.
Once all the butter has been used, you stretch out the dough a final time and fold it in four: Take the edges to the centre and then close it like a book. You should end up with a dough brick and realise that you’ve made far too much than you actually needed. This is the point where you cut the brick in half and freeze one of the halves, but not before you put a novelty corkscrew beside it and take a picture, just to remind you of how big it was.
The half that wasn’t frozen should then be stretch out into a, you guessed it, rectangle! Cut the rectangle lengthwise to make two long sheets, add your filling lengthwise, and shape it into a cylinder (or as close to it as you can). You then take a beaten egg and brush a line along one side of the filling. This will act as a glue as you bring the non-egged end over the filling and onto the egged end to make a tube. Then, you press firmly to seal the tube. If you’re like me, you’ll like to prettify things as much as you can, so use a fork for some crimping. Here’s one I made earlier.
To finish it off, you cut the tube into individual pieces, give them an egg brush and shove them in the oven at god-knows-what temperature (something high) for god-knows-how long. They should go from this…
… to this…
Since they puffed up a bit, I’ve considered this a half-failure, but my ego was knocked down a peg or two because they didn’t come out perfect.
Got any tips and tricks? Leave something in the comments section.
*Note: I make no apologies for the French. Mind you, I love the lady’s accent at 2:30! Fun and games aside, it’s horrendous that the only decent (out of two) video about, rather than how to, pastéis de nata was from Quebec.