Created by an elaborate process of folding and turning dough that contains copious amounts of fat (usually butter), puff pastry produces flaky, delicate results that work well with both sweet and savory dishes. Since puff pastry dough requires a significant amount of patience and skill to make, most home cooks opt to use frozen puff pastry, which is easy to use and turns out wonderfully. Here are a few simple tips to guarantee success when working with store-bought puff pastry at home:
- Remove the frozen puff pastry sheets from the box, and immediately wrap up and return any sheets you won’t be using to the freezer.
- Let the puff pastry sheets, which are folded like a letter, thaw on the counter for about half an hour before gently unfolding them. You can also thaw the pastry in the refrigerator overnight.
- Lightly sprinkle the counter with flour to keep the pastry from sticking. If a few cracks appear in the dough, wet your fingers with a bit of water and press the dough together. You’re now ready to cut the dough into shapes or add toppings/fillings prior to baking.
- Make sure you cut the dough straight down, whether it be with a knife or a cookie cutter, so that the layers maintain their integrity and the dough puffs nicely.
- If you find that the pastry dough is getting too soft, place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to firm it up.
- Avoid over-handling the dough, otherwise the finished pastries can wind up tough.
- If you prefer a cracker-like texture, poke holes all over the dough with a fork.
- Keep in mind that dark baking sheets may cook the pastry more quickly. Check on the pastry occasionally, and remove it from the oven once it’s golden and puffy.
[Image credit: Photo by Sifu Renka, used under Creative Commons license]
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