There’s something enormously satisfying about jumping off a cliff, and figuring things out as you’re falling down. Such was the case when I chose puff pastry as the theme for February’s Sugar High Fridays event. I had never made or used puff pastry before, but I had read so much about the wonders of this legendary dough that I couldn’t wait to try it out. And so I chose it as the theme for SHF 5 on the basis that it would be fun and challenging, and with the belief that I would be better off jumping from this cliff alongside everyone else.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve been slowly learning the intricacies of puff pastry by trying out three basic recipes. My first attempt involved a classic puff pastry preparation from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking. As with all puff pastry recipes, this one began by making the détrempe (the dough) and the beurrage (the butter block) separately, before enclosing the beurrage inside the détrempe, and proceeding through a series of six turns.
While the pastry was deliciously rich and flaky, its appearance was uneven, and parts of the pastry were completely hollow. My guess was that uneven rolling, and the fact that I didn’t square and line up the sides during my folds caused the lumpiness. But nevertheless, it was a good first try.
My second attempt at classic puff pastry came from Pascal Rigo’s The American Boulangerie. While the recipe was similar to the previous one, my results were much worse. As you can see, the pastry came out completely hollow, as all the layers had melded together to form a firm crust. My suspicion is that I didn’t lock in my folds well enough and may have subsequently squished out much of the butter while I was rolling. I’m quite certain, however that the recipe isn’t at fault, as I’ve had good success with other recipes from the book.
After trying two versions of classic puff pastry, I thought I would take a chance at Pierre Hermé’s famed inside-out puff pastry. Essentially, this is dough wrapped in butter instead of butter wrapped in dough - which might sound a bit gross, but it’s the lightest, flakiest and most tasty puff pastry I’ve had thus far. The pastry also rose evenly, with no large holes in between layers.
So there you have it. At least for me, inside-out puff pastry was my favourite. And it’s actually not any harder to make than classic puff pastry.