The Most Time-Consuming Thing I’ve Ever Made
No, really. Have you ever rolled puff pastry by hand? Me either, until this week. And let me tell you, puff pastry is anything but quick.
First you make a little bit of dough (flour, salt, butter, and cold water.) Then you refrigerate it for an hour or so. Meanwhile, you take high-fat butter (oh-so-good) and beat it into submission, molding it into a perfectly square piece half the size of your dough. Then you refrigerate it until it’s the same consistency as your dough: pliable, not brittle.
Next, you lock the butter block into your dough. You roll it out once, fold it, and refrigerate it. You roll it out again, fold it, and refrigerate it. And again. And a fourth time. 256 layers later, your dough is ready for an overnight rest, and your upper arms feel like I imagine it might feel to do pull-ups. (Though people who eat the following pastries, myself included, would probably be unable to confirm that.)
I can only be grateful that we have a sheeter that we used to roll out two of the following three shapes; that made the second puff pastry day relatively painless and incredibly delicious!
First, the cream horns, which are baked around metal molds and then filled with pastry cream and sweetened whipped cream:
Next, the palmiers (or palmeras, if you’re Spanish, or “palm leaves,” if you’re Amurican). These we rolled out by hand, dusting the bench with exorbitant amounts of sugar instead of flour. The result is the most caramel-crunchy puff pastry you’ve ever tasted. No palmera I ate in Spain tasted even half as good.
And finally, apple turnovers like you’ve never seen. Pulling these warm, egg-washed-and-pearl-sugar-sprinkled, just-tripled-in-size-as-if-by-magic pastries out of the oven may have been the most gratifying bakeshop experience I’ve ever had. They were so beautiful, I think it was actually worth two days of labor.
I mean, really. If you were greeted by these layers, wouldn’t you cry just a little bit?
Do I think I’ll be making puff pastry again soon? Maybe. I have a feeling that the memory of the hours of rolling and resting will fade faster than the memory of eating the finished products, which means I won’t be able to resist long. Family members, brace yourselves: puff pastry will be on my Christmas table, in one form or another.