3 November 2011

Puff Pastry Experiment

After watching most episodes of the second Great British Bake-off (except the last one, don't tell me who won, please) and with some regret that I couldn't have tried for it even, I felt I needed to tackle the issue with puff pastry and declared my intentions to my Mum.

Her reaction was, why bother, when you can get ready made from the shop?

I disagree, I want to be able to know how to make my own, what if civilization as we know it collapses? What if the war comes? Or any natural disaster for that matter and there is no puff pastry in the shop? You've got to know how to make it. So there!

And so, I scoured my old haunts of blogs for recipes. See, when I went to my baking master classes, we made puff pastry with yeast and I wasn't really sure about that. So I made two batches - one with yeast and one without.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, I had a bit of a delay on my planning and so had to freeze both batches in the end and make the Danish pastries the following week-end.

Now, I can't even find the recipes I used. But one thing was certain - as said by a French patissier on the Great British Bake-off - it's equal parts dough and butter. So that was the guiding light.

The dough without yeast didn't seem to come together very well from the start, I kneaded and kneaded and the results were a very poor excuse of gluten development. But I got tired after a while and moved onto the next step - chilling etc.

The second batch was with yeast and it developed much better. Very strange - all ingredients came out of the same packets, really the only difference was the yeast. Good gluten, good everything. Oh well. Maybe my attitude improved inbetween or something.

I had a good banging away at the butter with the rolling pin. My Dad even came rushing to the kitchen to ask if I was intending to demolish the house. That bit was fun, though.

So roll and fold, roll and fold and pretty soon no-yeast dough was too thin and broke in several places, though I was very careful not to get things too warm and the butter oozing out. But I had a feeling the damage had already been done here.

The second batch was much easier to roll, easier to control etc, but still it felt like there was too much butter for the dough.

The next week-end Lundulph came to visit and so I was going to make Danish pastries for breakfast. I let both batches thaw thoroughly in the fridge overnight, then I got them mixed up and left the non-yeast one rise, while the yeast one went straight in the oven. So the result was massively greasy, not well risen at all (by any means), but with quite clear layers and fully edible, although not too great amounts.

So on the whole, progress, but still a massively long way to go. Maybe I should try rough puff next time.


I did play around quite a bit with the shapes, that was great fun, though my Mum was very concerned that I left too much space between each. The croissant-y shapes are filled with crumbled up feta cheese mixed with eggs. The twirls have a dab of créme patissière and a well drained peach on top.


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