Friday, October 10, 2008

Rough Puff Pastry

I have decided to post this recipe anyway without photos. Will insert photos next time when I make it again.

You might want to double the recipe so that you can keep the extra for another use. I usually do that for quicker cooking next time. For a first time attempt though it would be better to do one recipe first.

250gm plain flour
1 tbsp icing sugar(optional)
250 gm butter, chilled and cubed into 1 cm cubes
1/4 pint cream/milk/water

Sift dry ingredients. Add cubed chilled butter and cut rapidly with two knives or a pastry cutter but stopping until the cubes are still quite large. In other words do not keep on cutting until the breadcrumb stage. Let the butter be in lumps the size of large.... pearls (I can't think of anything else at the moment).

Stir in just enough liquid for the mixture to adhere then gather into a ball with your hands. Press lightly to make it stick together and wrap in cling film and chill for 45 minutes or if in the freezer for half the time to let the dough rest and firm up the butter.

Lightly flour a work surface. Marble would be excellent. But not every other person (including me) has a marble top. So a wooden surface like a table would do as well. Work quickly though.

Place the cold dough on the surface. The dough should be quite hard. Sprinkle the dough with flour to prevent sticking.Press the ball down with the heel of your hand to flatten it. If necessary beat to flatten further with a rolling pin if the dough is really hard until it becomes a rough oval shape. Sprinkle surface of dough with flour if necessary.

Roll out dough with light forward strokes into a rough longish rectangle about 1/2 inch thick and it is three times as long as it is wide. Sprinkle with more flour if necessary. Don't worry if the edges are uneven. It will be for the first time.

Divide the dough, by eye, into four equal parts. Then fold the two ends over to meet in the middle. Then fold into half so that you now have four layers of dough. Got it?

Now turn the pastry 90 degrees so that the folded edges are at the sides and one open end is facing you. Roll out to a rectangle again as long as the first one. (About three times as long as it is wide). Fold as before and like before you will get a square again.

Repeat this twice more and chill for 30 minutes.

Remove from refrigerator. Roll out to a rectangle again and fold one more time and chill once more. After the last chilling the dough is ready to be used as in the Beef Curry Pie recipe below.

Don't get discouraged. It is not as hard as it sounds and if you follow the instructions you will get a beautiful puff in your pastry that you would want to make it again and again and again and again just the way you rolled and folded it again and again and again and again.

Problems you might encounter:

1. Butter gets soft on the first rolling - stop and chill in refrigerator until it hardens again. Better to let the butter be hard than 'just soft enough'. Little more elbow grease required but less problem of rolling out due to a too soft dough because of 'just soft enough' butter.

2. Make sure the butter pieces are not too large as lumps. If they are, as it happened to me before, you'll end up with lots of large spaces in between the lumps of butter after rolling, and after baking the pastry rose to a thousand fold but everyone thought they were eating leather because the 'spaces between the butter lumps' were obviously just a mixture of flour and water so when baked it became a tough and chewy crust.

3. A hot kitchen (because we live in a tropical country?) - make pastry when its cool like in the early part of the morning. Never in the middle of the afternoon or when the oven in the kitchen is on (especially if you have a small kitchen and the heat has nowhere else to go except into your pastry).

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