Today is one of those cold and snowy days that keeps you inside. The best kind of days I think. Perhaps not the popular opinion, but still my idea of fun. So, given my luck, it seemed like the perfect chance to try my hand at puff pastry. I’ve never made it before, but as someone who takes great pride in hand making everything, I owe it to myself. Don’t be fooled by its reputation because puff pastry is far easier than you may think. It may be fancy, but if you can use a rolling pin, you can make this pastry. It’s warm, buttery and flaky beyond any store bought brand. I used only half of my pastry and froze the rest, which means I can use it for something else later on.
Since it was my first time ever making puff pastry I have to say I’m really proud of this recipe. Making the dough is a loving process and it takes time. About an hours worth of time to be exact. If you’re already fumbling to the search bar to find another recipe…stop! There is some solace in the time-warp that is puff pastry. The time isn’t necessarily in the making, it’s in the waiting. So, get a book, practice your knitting or find a good documentary because this recipe welcomes multi-tasking and/or total laziness. You’re welcome.
Just a tip before you start: Do not ignore the chilling process that makes this recipe so time-consuming. The reason for chilling is to maintain the butter-dough-butter-dough layers that you’ll form as you fold. In the oven, the butter will melt and create steam, which pushes against the dough and creates the airy flaky layers that puff pastry is known for. If you don’t properly chill between folds the butter will melt and your flakes will be sad and dense. That said, I used the freezer to speed up my chill times because I’m impatient.
So here’s the recipe! It’s literally just flour and water, but you’d be surprised how much can go wrong with so little. So, I knicked my recipe from BBC for my first try. It turned out to be the right choice because my puff came out perfectly. If you don’t have a metric food scale I have converted the quantities in the copied recipe below.
PUFF PASTRY: (makes two tarts)
250g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
150 ml (1/6 cup) cold water
225g (1/6 cup) good quality butter (room temperature, but not warm!) If you use salted butter, ignore the pinch of salt above.
- In a food processor combine flour and salt. With the motor running, slowly add the water until the dough just combines without being too dry or too moist. It should hold together when pinched. Once it’s combined and good to go, plop it out on a floured surface and bring it together into a disk shape and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, place your butter between two sheets of parchment and flatten it out into a sheet the size of a postcard. Set aside until your dough is chilled.
- Once your dough has had time to rest and cool, roll it out to an 11-inch circle. Place your butter sheet in the middle and fold both the right and left sides over the sheet. Then fold the top and bottom sides over to finally cover the entire sheet. It should look somewhat like an envelope.
- Roll this out into a long rectangle rolling only one direction. It should be about 1/8 inch thick. Mark your dough into thirds and fold the top third to the middle and the bottom third over the top of that. Do a quarter turn with your folded dough and repeat the process again. Chill until it’s firm to the touch.
- Repeat step four at least 4 more times. This process creates the signature flaky puff pastry. As the butter melts in the oven, it creates steam and forms a flakey buttery crust.
While your layers are refrigerating you can prepare the topping.
For the topping I turned to the fridge to see what was available, but you could easily put this tart together with any other combination of veggies or meats that suit your tastebuds. I’m addicted to goat cheese, which is the reason this tart even exists.
TOPPING: (makes 1 tart)
This is one of those recipes that just works. Like stuffing on Christmas day, the cranberries only compliment the flavor. If you don’t like the sweet and savory concept, try an onion chutney instead.
1/2 t. thyme
1 large onion
a splash of balsamic vinegar
1 c. of sliced mushrooms (I used button mushrooms)
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/8 c. goat cheese
1/2 c. fresh spinach
1/2 recipe of puff pastry (above)
butter and olive oil for sautéing
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F
- Slice onions and mushrooms thinly and sauté in butter/oil, thyme and seasoning on medium-high heat.
- Once the onions are translucent add the cranberries and turn the heat off. Set aside until the tart is ready to be assembled.
- Take out a half portion of the puff pastry and roll it into a 10 inch square. Use a sharp knife to score a 1 inch border around the entire square. This will help the pastry time around the topping in the oven.
- Spread the spinach evenly within the border. Then, spread the onion, mushroom and cranberry mix on top. Lastly, crumble goat cheese over top to finish. Season further if you wish.
- Finally, brush the edges with egg wash and bake for 35 minutes. The puff should be golden, but not burnt.