There are few things as delicious as a perfectly cooked puff pastry. Buttery, airy and flakey, a properly cooked puff pastry instantly enhances anything it’s paired with. Whether served lightly filled with mushrooms and onions as a hors d’oeuvre or wrapped around brie as an appetizer, this flaky pastry makes the perfect accompaniment to many dishes.
One of the most traditional uses of puff pastry is in a savory and rich chicken pot pie. While recipes vary wildly depending on what region you are in, the standard chicken pot pie recipe calls for at least one layer of crisp and flakey puff pastry.
Toronto-based executive chef Jameson Watermulder knows a thing or two about the perfect puff pastry. Watermulder, who previously worked as an executive chef at Summerhill Market in Rosedale, has made hundreds of thousands of chicken pot pies during his time as a professional chef.
As a popular staple on the Summerhill Market daily menu, approximately 300 pot pies are made and sold daily at the trendy Toronto market. And during Watermulder’s time at the Summerhill Market, he was often charged with making this high demand delicacy.
As Jameson Watermulder is quick to point out, the key to a great pot pie lies in the crust. A pastry that is crisp and flakey is a must.
“Learning to make puff pastry is a great skill for any chef or home cook,” explains Jameson Watermulder. “It is versatile and is the perfect vehicle for many ingredients.”
Classic puff pastry takes a lot of time to make because the dough requires lengthy resting periods between each step. For ambitious home chefs, Jameson Watermulder provides this guide to making the perfect puff pastry from scratch.
2⅓ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
⅔ of a cup cold water, plus about 1 tablespoon more if necessary
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2¼ sticks unsalted butter, cold
- To make the dough, combine the flour and butter in a bowl breaking the butter up so no visible pieces remain. Don’t over mix. Stir the water and salt together and sprinkle all over the flour. Using a rubber spatula dig to the bottom of the bowl and bring up any un-moistened flour, rotating the bowl as you go.
Don’t exert pressure on the dough, just bring the spatula up from the bottom of the bowl. After 10 or 12 strokes, if there are any dry bits of flour remaining, sprinkle a few drops of water until they adhere to the dough ball.
- Scrape the dough from the bowl to a lightly floured surface dusting the top of the dough with flour. Use your hands, and a ruler to shape the dough into an 8-inch square. Wrap with plastic and chill for 1 hour.
- Before the hour is up, prepare the butter block. To prepare liberally scatter half the flour on to the work surface and cut butter into 6 pieces. Gently coat the pieces in flour, then use a rolling pin to gently pound each piece of butter till softened. Once all the butter has been pounded, scatter on some of the remaining flour, then stack the butter pieces on top of each use the rolling pin to hammer them together. Repeat, adding the remaining pieces of butter to the stack. Scatter on the last of the flour, then quickly knead the butter into a solid mass. Using your hands and a ruler shape the butter into an 8-inch square.
- After the hour is up, unwrap the dough and place it on the work surface; flour the dough and roll it evenly to an 8 x 16-inch rectangle, with a short edge near you.
- Brush away any excess flour on the dough’s surface and place the butter on the end closest to you. Fold the dough over to enclose the butter and pinch the edges of the dough together.
- Flour both sides of the dough use a rolling pin to start pressing the package of dough and butter in a succession of gentle and even strokes, moving from the closest edge to the farthest edge.
- Gently roll the dough with rolling pin in one direction, starting at the end nearest to you and without going over the opposite edge. Repeat, rolling from the far end back toward yourself. Repeat the rolling once more and make the dough an 8 x 16-inch rectangle.
- Again brush away excess flour from the dough, then fold both narrow ends toward the middle, leaving about a ½-inch space between them.
- Fold the dough in half along that centerline to make 4 layers.
- Position the folded package of dough so that the closed fold, resembling the spine of a book, is on your left. Repeat step 7, this time rolling across as well as lengthwise, until the dough is as close to 8 x 16 inches as possible.
- Repeat step 7 and 8.
- Wrap and chill the dough for another hour. When ready to resume rolling, repeat step 7 and 8 twice more.
- The dough has now been rolled and folded 4 times and is fully prepared. Wrap in plastic and chill the dough for at least 12 hours. It is then ready to use.
Article Submitted By Community Writer