Yes. It's true. In the universe of laborious French pastry, there actually exists a quick puff pastry recipe (!) Instead of the classic time-sucking day and a half process of puff dough-hell, you can roll out a fresh batch in just two hours! Sure, I know what you're thinking-- why on earth would I even bother with a quick recipe when I can buy Pepperidge Farms, or the very good brand Dufour? Or, what the hell is puff dough anyway and why the hell would I make it if it typically takes a day and a half, or even just two hours? Seriously, laundry doesn't take that long... Let's skip that last thought.
It's pretty simple-- there is nothing like handmade puff pastry baked in your own kitchen. Made, of course, by you.
The recipe is Clay's Quick Puff Dough from my favorite dessert book-- Chez Panisse Desserts, by Lindsey Remolif Shere. I revere this book and have worn down it's pages over the years-- there is even evidence of chocolate and butter and a signature from Alice Waters, herself.
So, here it is. In all it's glory. Made, on a somewhat cool, early eve on my kitchen table. Try it at home. And remember; if you screw it up, who cares. Anyhow, what have you got to lose? Two hours?
An adaption of Clay's Quick Puff Pastry
Makes about 3 1/2 pounds of dough, enough for 4 or 5 nine-inch tart shells. Use this dough for free-form, savory/fruit galettes or tarts. Also great for hand held pies, or sugary palms and bow ties (great with a cookie plate or a dish of ice cream.)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 1/4 cups of unsalted butter (1 pound 10 ounces)
2 tbs lemon juice (one lemon)
1 cup of ice water
A large cutting board, marble or clean surface, 19"x 14", is needed to prepare the dough. Also, do not attempt to make this on a warm day. The room needs to be cool.
The butter must be cold and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Portion it onto parchment and pop it in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Combine the two flours and the salt. Mix with a whisk to incorporate the ingredients well.
Combine the ice water and lemon juice.
Once the butter is cold place the butter and flour into a mixer (using a paddle) or a food processor. Pulse or mix until the butter is 1/2 inch in size and rough looking. Add the lemon juice and ice cold water and pulse two or three times until the dough is moist.
Turn out onto a floured cutting board and push tho dough into a triangle. Do not kneed, it will become tough. Working quickly, roll the dough evenly, using all your weight, but careful not to dent the dough. Roll it to a 1/2" thick, keeping the shape of a rectangle.
To begin, you will fold the dough over itself, starting with the left side: 1) fold the left side over the middle 2) fold the right side over the middle to create 3 layers of dough. The edges of the dough need to be even in thickness and shape, so as not to have build up at the ends.
This folding creates layers of butter and flour, creating the "puff" effect of the dough as it bakes. The moisture from the butter creates a vapor that separates each layer. This is what we are trying to achieve. Chill the dough if it becomes soft and return it to the cutting board. "Turn" the dough a quarter-turn and roll the layers into each other.
Turn this 3 times and roll the layers together.
Once the last 4th turn is completed, fold it in thirds and wrap in plastic. Chill in the freezer for one hour, to rest the gluten in the dough.
After an hour, pull the dough from the freezer and let it warm for 15-20 minutes. When is is maleable but still very cold, turn the dough two more times. At this point the dough should be very smooth.
Fold the dough into thirds and cut into three pieces. Wrap and date. Chill for two more hours before baking. The rise of the dough will always be best two hours after. Keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to three days, or in the freezer for several months.
Test the dough after the last two hours of resting, and bake a slice or two with a sprinkle of raw sugar, at 400 degrees until brown.