Dishes made with puff pastry look grand, but recipes with directions spanning over two days can be daunting. Here’s the good news: Throughout most of the process, the dough is actually chilling in the fridge while you sit back and relax.
The key to success with this butter-enriched dough lies in a simple secret: Start with cold ingredients and return the dough to the refrigerator often as you work. After it’s finished, you can use the dough to create a variety of rich, flaky desserts or savory tarts. Puff pastry also freezes well, so it can be thawed and ready to use when you return from the farmers’ market with fresh fruit and vegetables.
Puff pastry is made by rolling out a simple dough of flour, salt, water and butter; layering it with more butter; folding it envelope-fashion; refrigerating it to firm up the butter; and then rolling out the dough again and repeating the whole process.
The reward for your efforts? Several hundred ultrathin layers of dough and butter that literally puff up in the oven.
Time-saving tip: For results that rival scratch puff pastry, buy a good-quality brand of ready-made dough. Be sure it includes real butter, and check any sell-by or use-by dates on the packaging. Store the carefully wrapped dough in the freezer. Before using it, defrost in the refrigerator, keeping the dough cold until you’re ready to roll it out.
Whether you opt for homemade or purchased puff pastry, these Williams-Sonoma recipes are sure to impress:
About the author: A graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York City, Natasha is the Williams-Sonoma Culinary Expert for the Wichita, Kansas store. She is the mastermind behind the in-store technique and cooking classes and is often on the road training other Williams-Sonoma Culinary Experts.