Anyone who has ever tried to make an authentic laminated dough knows that it is a lot of work, requiring time, muscles and patience. It’s not something you want to do everyday, but for special occasions it is a treat to have those croissants or danishes, so light and crispy (light in weight, not calories!) But we don’t always have the time or energy to devote to the whole process for laminated doughs.
A few weeks ago I took a class at King Arthur Flour on blitz puff pastry, a short-cut when you need a laminated dough in a hurry. It’s not quite as effective as a true laminate dough, or as pleasing to the mouth in my opinion, but it’s a reasonable subsitute. Instead of making the dough and folding the fat in, the butter is simply cut into the dough like a pie dough, except the butter is left in bigger chunks. As the pastry bakes those chunks of butter melt and create steam, which helps the dough to rise and creates the effect of puffy, crispy pastry.
The dough has 1 1/2 c. flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 c. cold unsalted butter (cubed) and 1/2 c. sour cream. You blend the dry ingredients, like any other pastry dough, but when the butter is added, instead of working it to a coarse crumb like you would for pie dough, you smoosh the butter pieces flat with your fingers, so you end up with what looks like a whole bunch of relatively flat butter blobs. Then you lightly mix in the sour cream, but it won’t combine to a smooth dough.
Now, if you’re making this you will probably get quite discouraged by this point, because it really just looks like a crumbly mess, but don’t give up! That’s how it’s supposed to look. The crumbly dough gets turned out onto a floured work surface, and a few gentle kneads should bring it together a bit more. You don’t want to knead it too much, though, or the butter will start blending in, and you want to try and keep those big blobs. Then pat the dough into a square and roll it into an 8×10-inch rectangle, using plenty of flour to keep it from sticking. Add in any bits that fall off as you go, and have a straight edge handy to tap the sides in between rolls to help keep the dough edges even. Once it is 8×10, any excess flour gets brushed off the surface and the dough gets folded over itself like a three-fold letter. Then you flip the dough, turn it 90 degrees and repeat the rolling process. Once it is 8×10 and folded again, chill the dough for 30 minutes before using. This will give the dough time to relax, and the butter time to re-chill, both making the dough easier to work with.
In the class we made one savoury and one sweet recipe, each using half a batch of the dough. You will find the recipes below. Unfortunately the palmiers were baked too long, getting quite dark, so I had to choose the best of the batch for the photo, but the apple galette came out just right.
1/2 recipe blitz puff pastry
All-purpose flour for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 400.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll blitz puff with a rolling pin to form an 8×12 rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. With a short side toward you, trim to even the edges. Spoon the pesto onto the center of the rectangle; use a rubber spatula to spread it in a very thin, even layer to the edges of the pastry.
- Use both hands to gently lift one long edge of the pastry. Fold it firmly and evenly over itself in 1-inch sections until you reach the center of the sheet. Repeat, folding the other edge to meet in the center.
- Slice the double-folded pastry into just under 3/4 -inch thick slices. Place them about 2 inches apart, cut side down, on a prepared pan. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Transfer to a
wire rack to cool.
1/2 recipe blitz puff pastry
1 medium apple, peeled and thinly sliced (firm varieties work best)
2-3 Tbsp sugar
- Roll out one half of the pastry dough to 1/4-inch thickness, shaping into a free-form rectangle or circle. You may choose to use a knife or pizza cutter to create 1/2-inch “border strips.” Brush sides of base with egg white before attaching border strips.
- Thinly slice apple, and arrange slices, overlapping slightly, onto surface of pastry, leaving a 1/2-inch border free on all sides. Sprinkle the apple slices with sugar – to taste. Cinnamon sugar may also be added.
- Bake at 400F for about 20-25 minutes, until nicely browned.