Puff Pastry On The Fly
I was watching TV shows about tailgate fare for Superbowl Sunday and several recipes caught my attention. Calzone and empanadas were two in particular. These were made with store bought puff pastry. I don’t want to go out in freezing temperatures to purchase some, especially when a pound of it costs about seven bucks. Today, even though there is no game, I made a pound and a half of it for about $2.50. I did it in about two hours too. The secret is keeping the dough COLD. There are many layers of dough and butter and this method will give you well over a hundred layers of flaky, crispy, delicate, melt in your mouth pastry. You will need:
- 1 cup hot tap water (105°)
- 1 tsp rapid rise yeast
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 and 1/2 cups flour (more if necessary for rolling)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 and 1/2 sticks cold butter.
In a large mixing bowl add the hot water, honey and yeast. Stir until the yeast dissolves. Allow it to foam up on top (proofing), and add two cups of the flour reserving 1/2 cup for rolling it out later. Stir in the flour. It should clean the sides of the bowl and be a firm mass. Splash a bit of water in if too stiff. If too sticky use more flour by the tablespoon. I had to use a splash of water in my dough. Spoon knead it until it becomes a bit more elastic. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to an hour.
Roll the dough out on a well floured counter and try to shape it into a rectangle about 18″ x 9″. Cover 1/2 of the dough in very thin pats of butter and fold it over like a book, roll it out, pressing the butter between the layers of dough. Two layers. Place pats of butter on one third of the dough, press it in, and fold it in one third. Place butter on top of this fold and flap over the remaining third and roll again. Six layers. I’ve used a stick of butter now and the half stick is a spreadable consistency. Spread butter on half of this rectangle and fold in half, again like the book and roll into a rectangle again. Twelve layers. Spread a thin layer of butter on the entire rectangle, fold in thirds like a business letter and roll again. Thirty six layers. Butter half of this, fold and roll. Seventy two layers.
At this point I need to refrigerate the dough a while. I place it in the freezer for about 15 minutes and it gets nicely chilled again but not frozen. I unwrap it, roll it out in a square and tri-fold again this time no butter but now I have 146 layers and a long rectangle of dough. I cut off 1/3 and use it for my dinner recipe. The rest, I double book fold then fold that into a square shape again making the next time I use it a dough of 1208 layers. If I buttered this one and gave it another tri-fold, I will have over three thousand layers…3604 to be exact. The french call this pastry mille-feuille, meaning a thousand leaves or sheets. I call it an achievement!
Well, I cut the corner and only used the hundred forty something sheets to make my husband a lovely dinner to take to work this evening. I was a bit rushed to get it done but the third of the dough I cut off made three ten inch circles when rolled out, two to stay, one to go. I placed a good amount of filling in the center of each circle made of the following:
- one finely diced onion
- 1 rib of thinly sliced celery
- 1 thinly sliced carrot
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 small can tomato sauce (8 oz)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, in tiny cubes
Once filled, I wet the perimeter of the pastry, folded it over like a calzone and pressed the edges together with a fork to seal it. I then pricked some vent holes in the tops of each one, placed them on a baking sheet and baked them for 20 to 25 minutes at 400° on a flour dusted sheet.
While these stuffed pastries bake…I don’t know what to call them exactly…I make a green salad to go with. Half way through baking I give the pastries an egg wash to give them a shiny brown coating that makes them Diva pretty and sparkly.
Poor Jeff took his plate to work as he had just woken up, showered and shaved for the midnight watch. I hope he enjoys his dinner tonight. Julia and I sure enjoyed ours. The pastry really turned out light and flaky. I could hear the crush of the many layers as I sunk my teeth down into each bite.
I hate those stinky old midnight shifts. They really are hard on a body, but maybe sending Jeff off with a thousand layers of my love might make the night a little more bearable.