However, the moment I ate that piece of Apple Strudel (along with other baked-goods such as, quiche lorraine, croissant, baguettes, brownies, etc), I've always had that one epiphany. I wanted to learn how to bake. I wanted to learn more about western baking.
There are many many wonderful cakes from where I am in Indonesia. The richness of coconut milk, dark red sugar, thousands of herbs i can never remember and many more. However, I was never particularly interested in how they were made.
Then, internet became available. I learn about puff, shortcrust, filo, choux. I was in my cadbury island. Unimaginable light came into my eyes. Finally, my birthday present of an oven arrived and soon enough, batches of cookies and snacks were produced, failed cakes and burnt smells too.
That old piece of oven is still with me today. My source of relaxation, satisfaction and appreciation comes from this small piece of an oldie. And today, I have once again decided to encounter my fears and my To-do-list. Puff Pastry.
This pastry was harder on my mind than on the bench. Honestly, I wouldn't have worried as much. As long as you follow the steps. The recipe I've used is by Pastry chef online for it's detailed instructions and notes.
1. The better the butter, the tastier and puffier the pastry will be. Look for a higher fat content.
2. It is easier to roll the dough and butter together when they have the same consistency. (Chill whichever is softer.)
3. Keep a fair amount of flour at arms reach while working on the bench. You need to constantly flour the surface and touch up on broken layers.
4. When cutting the dough, be sure to cut straight and minimize twisting. This will limit sticking of layers.
5. Chill cut piece in the fridge for 30 minutes before baking.
6. Placing a sheet of parchment paper on top of the pastry will give an even rise.
7. Be sparing with egg wash as it inhibits puffing by gluing layers together when it enters the cut sides.
8. Do not bake puff with an uncut edge. It would not puff up.
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours and the salt. Dice 3 oz. (85 g) butter and toss in with the flour/salt mixture. Refrigerate the rest of the butter.
2. Rub the butter into the flour to look like a coarse meal. Add the water, a bit at a time, to form a sticky, rather "ugly" dough.
3. Gather up the dough, flatten it into a vague rectangle, and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about an hour to give to completely hydrate the flour and to let the butter firm back up a bit.
4. Meanwhile, take out the rest 10 oz (300 g) of butter. Pound with a rolling pin to soften into a square shape about 5″ on a side and about 1/2″ thick.
5. Once the dough has been in the fridge for about an hour, check to see if the consistency of the butter and dough are similar (poke poke).
6. Liberally flour your work surface and the dough, and roll to a square about 10″ on a side. Now, roll each triangular corner of the square out into a thinner flap. You will then have a thicker diamond dough about 5-6″ on a side with thinner flaps.
7. Brush the excess flour on the top of the dough off, and place the packet of butter in the center. Fold up one corner at a time to completely encase the butter in dough. Remember to brush off all the excess flour. If the dough is too soft by now, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so.
8. Flour your work surface again, and pound the dough with your rolling pin to flatten. Then, roll your dough into a rectangle about 16″X8″. Work with short strokes up and down the packet until things are nice and pliable. This will help keep your dough from ripping. If you do get a tear in your dough, patch it with some flour.
9. Fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter, being sure to brush off the excess flour. Keep the edges as square as possible. Repeat the rolling and folding a second time in the other direction. Wrap in plastic and mark a 2 finger indentation. Chill the twice turned dough into the fridge for an hour.
10. After an hour, take the dough out and give it two more turns. If at any time you feel the butter starting to slide around inside the dough, throw it back in the fridge. After the 2nd (4th) turn, wrap it up, mark 4 indentations and chill it in the fridge overnight.
11. The next day, take the dough and pound it with the rolling pin a few times, and give it two more turns. Always keep the edges as square and even as possible, and always roll to a 16″x8″ rectangle. Roll to a finished thickness of 1/4″, and the dough is finally ready to be used.