I previously mentioned how sometimes you can, and actually should, cut corners when cooking. I also previously mentioned how much I trust this blog. It is one of those blogs whose recipes have all the wow factor you may want or need, are clearly explained and are 100% reliable.
This blog recently posted a recipe for puff pastry. I tried it. Not only did it work, not only was it easy, indeed, drop dead easy, indeed, almost as easy as walking to the store and buying puff pastry. Not only all of these, but also, the result was better. I mean, not only better than store bought stuff, but better than the results you get when you don’t cut any corners at all. I am not scared of challenges, when it comes to cooking. And I did try once or twice to make puff pastry, on very special occasions. I hated myself for my stubbornness and cried on broken pastry and butter everywhere in my kitchen. You know, just the regular puff pastry experience. After all that effort I was then of course ready to swear that my puff pastry was the best one in the whole world, and you know, it was not exactly bad – the point is that in the end, all in all, puff pastry is definitely – let us face it – definitely not worth the effort.
This admission comes from someone who regularly makes her own pasta, her own brisée, her own pate sucrée, her own strudel pastry, her pizza dough, her bread, who even considered doing her own filo pastry. I am not scared of baking or playing around with flour and the likes and I know that a lot of the effort disappears when you have enough experience. Puff pastry never inspired me to go through the whole process of becoming very skilled at it. On the other hand, this pastry is not harder than a normal brisée, maybe a little easier. It requires you to go through the folding process, but here it is not harder than folding a sheet of paper. You can easily do it while you prepare other food or do something else. And let me stress that what really won me over is that the result is delicious. I used it with a savoury filling, because it is indeed on the salty side, and it offers a delicate flavour, much finer than ordinary one, and a perfectly layered consistency. Maybe the original puff pastry turns out slightly more crunchy, but also far more oily. For a sweet dish, I’d maybe still want to stick with regular puff pastry: sweet fillings stand better a very buttery pastry than savoury ones in my experience, and too buttery a pastry is not always a bad thing. I’d give this one a go also for sweet things however, just because of the extreme convenience.
For the curious ones: the little thing in the picture is yet another Ottolenghi recipe, filled with sour cream, baked sweet potatoes, pumpkin seeds, hot chilli and goat’s cheese. Yummy.
Cheater’s puff pastry
Ingredients: (for about two tarts, but freezes very well)
250 gr all purpose flour
160 gr butter, cold and diced
250 gr fresh cheese, eg philadelphia
generous pinch of salt
Mix all the ingredients together using a knife, trying not to overheat it, until you have a mass of crumbs. Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on the table, put the crumbs in the middle, and loosely wrap them. Try to give them as regular a rectangular form as you can. Wrap well in cling film and refrigerate for half an hour. Then take it out, stretch it on a lightly floured surface using a rolling pin so as to obtain a rectangle two times longer than higher. Fold it in three along the longer direction, and wrap again. refrigerate another half an hour. Repeat the folding procedure once more, and then you puff pastry is ready for use or for freezing. It will look a bit inhomogeneous at the beginning, but it will become extremely smooth by the time of the last fold. If using from frozen, make sure you thaw it completely before stretching it, as the ice crystals might break it.