When I started this blog, I wanted to join the baking community as a contributor, but also as a learner. I’ve never laboured under the pretence that I’m the best baker around, because then what could I aspire to? There are so many other established blogs out there that I can only dream of measuring up to!
Along those lines I’m pressing “publish” on this post, even though these pastries didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to. They tasted good – I mean, they’re filled with enough butter to choke a horse, and stuffed with rich milk chocolate – but in my head I imagined golden brown morsels with gooey chocolate in the middle. In reality I took these out of the oven a few minutes too soon so they were slightly too pale and the chocolate was only partially melted.
It’s less-than-perfect experiences like this that remind me for every amazing cookie that I bake, there are hundreds of mediocre recipes, weird oatmeal cookies that taste like fish (long story), and envious scrollings through Pinterest in my future. But that’s the joy of learning right? I love it!
Now, how about that puff pastry recipe?
I googled how to make puff pastry, and after reading about 20 recipes of varying degrees of difficulty, I found this one from Gordon Ramsay. I’ve never made a Gordon Ramsay recipe before, and it looked fairly simple. However, because it’s so simple, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation (and therefore error!).
- 2 1/4 cups plain white flour
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 1 1/4 cup butter (cold but not frozen)
- About 1/2 cup cold water
- Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Take your butter and either break into smallish chunks, or using the large hole side of a cheese grater, grate onto the flour and gently mix together with your hands. You want to blend the ingredients but you still want to be able to see bits of butter.
- Make a well in the butter/flour mixture and pour in 1/2 – 2/3 of the water. Gently mix until you can form a dough ball that doesn’t break apart when you pick it up and put it back down. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes.
- Take the dough ball, knead gently and form into a smooth rectangle. Roll the dough in one direction only until it’s three times the width. Don’t overwork the dough – the idea is to have a marbled effect with the butter.
- Fold the top third of the dough down to the centre, and fold the bottom third up and over that. Turn the dough 90 degrees (a quarter turn) and again roll out to three times the width. Fold it up again, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for another 20-30 minutes before rolling out to use.
At this point you can pretty much go hog wild with whatever shape you like. You can cut triangles to form croissants, you can cut strips of dough and braid it together, or you can cut small rectangles and make little pockets like I did.
I had a bag of 100 Jersey Milk chocolate squares left over from Halloween, so each pocket had 1 chocolate square in the middle. I brushed the tops with a bit of egg and sealed the pockets by pressing with a fork.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
I do think this recipe, although a little time consuming, is easy and quite versatile. The pastry is buttery and fluffy and would work just as well with sausage rolls as it does with chocolate or jam. You could even make little pop tarts and make a simple glaze for the top!
Will I make these again? For sure. But I might have to bake a couple batches of cookies first to reassure myself that I’m not a hack as a baker! 😉