Sadly the instructions on shaping the pastry were very confusing to say the least and the end result was far from the expected. Edible none the less, but I changed my approach for the second sheet of puff pastry and had much better results.
- Regardless if making your own puff pastry or using shop-bought, it'll need to be rolled out to about 3 mm thickness, while still kept cold. Roll out to a rectangle or a square, depending on the starting shape, keeping the edges and corners as sharp and straight as possible.
- Now sprinkle granulated sugar over the pastry surface, then very gently roll the rolling pin over it, just enough to get the sugar to stick to the pastry, but do not push into it.
- Carefully turn over the pastry and repeat - sprinkle granulated sugar and gently roll the rolling pin over it.
- Now for the folding. I found this website showing how to fold, and is pretty much what I did for the second puff pastry sheet.
- When the pastry has been folded it needs to be chilled in the fridge again to stiffen up, perhaps for an hour or so, depending on how thick it became after folding.
- When the pastry has chilled, pre-heat the oven to 220 °C (not fan). Line a couple of baking sheets with baking paper.
- Take the pastry out of the fridge and using a very sharp knife, slice at about 5 mm thickness and place with the cut side down on the lined baking sheets. Don't be tempted to pace them too closely together, they will expand sideways, so leave lots of space between them.
- Bake until they start getting golden brown, then remove and carefully transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Some ovens might not bake too evenly, in which case you may need to carefully flip them half-way through baking.
- These are best served on the same day as they are baked, and must be stored in an airtight container, so they don't pick up moisture from the air and go soft.
The really fatal mistake I made with the first puff pastry sheet was that I rolled the sugar into the pastry. This almost completely destroyed the lamination and the palmiers didn't expand the way they're supposed to. Instead they became like regular biscuits in a weird shape. Here is what it looked like:
Really not nice at all. Luckily my family aren't too fussy, and gobbled them up, because they were tasty.
Searching for ideas on this, it seems that mixing the sugar with cinnamon or cocoa will give interesting patterns and adding some finely chopped nuts on the inside would work well too.
I also have some vague memories of watching one of Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa shows, where she made palmiers up to the point of baking. She then stacked them, I think with baking paper in between and froze, ready to be baked from frozen. A very nice idea, that I need to try out.
A further thought is also that the palmiers don't have to be sweet, they could be made with grated cheese instead, another idea to try out.