How to Make Puff Pastry

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With baking becoming more popular in Thailand, I'm learning how to bake. Making puff pastry is one of the trickiest things I've learned so this is going to need some diagrams to explain. The principles are simple, so don't let the long article put you off making your own puff pastry.

I learned that puff pastry is easier to make in a large batch, but you can freeze it for next time. I'm also going to use pastry margarine for this recipe with butter only for flavour in the dough, it's what I was taught, although you can use unsalted butter in place of the margarine if you prefer. Pastry margarine, also known as baking margarine, is margarine made from vegetable fats that's suitable for cooking. Check the label to see if the margarine can be used for baking, or if it's only for spreading.

The basic process folds the dough 3 times, then 4 times then 3 times then 4 times, for 144 layers. Between each folding, you need to leave the dough to rest for 15 minutes at room temperature. So the process of puff pastry making can easily stretch over a couple of hours.

Ingredients for Puff Pastry
565 gms Flour (all purpose flour)
15 gms Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Eggs Yolk
80 gms Butter
395 gms Pastry Margarine

Preparation
1. Mix the water, sugar and salt together. Add the egg yolk, cut the butter up and add to the mixture. And the flour and combine with your hands for 1 minute to get it roughly together.
2. With a dough hook on your food mixer (it's usually plastic on smaller mixers, or on large mixers a smooth metal hoop), mix until you get a smooth dough.
3. Take out dough, cover with cling film, and leave for 30 minutes to rest.
4. Take wax paper (grease proof paper) 18 inches by 12 inches (46cm x 30cm). Fold in half, then fold the edges over by and inch and a half, (4cms) to form an envelope.

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5. We're going to use this envelope to roll the margarine flat, let the margarine soften a little in the warmth, flatten it with your hands, place it in the wax paper envelope.Fold up the edges of the paper, turn it fold side facing down. Now roll the margarine into the corners of the grease proof paper to form a flat even rectangle.
6. Take out the dough, flour a large work surface, and roll out the dough to be slightly more than 1.5 times wider and just slightly higher than margarine. See the diagram below to understand what you're aiming for.

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7. Place the margarine on the dough at the right side, as in the diagram, fold over the left third, then fold over the right third. Press the edges together all around to seal in the margarine. Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature for 15 minutes. You can see this step in part 1 of the diagram above.

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8. Roll the pastry 4 times wider, and taller. Fold in the left quarter towards the middle and fold in the right quarter to the middle. Then fold in half. Press the edges together again, cover with cling film and leave for 15 minutes. You can see this in the part2 diagram above. It's a good idea to press your finger in to make 1 mark so that you can remember at what stage the pastry is at.

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9. Roll the pastry across to be 4 times wider, it will have shrunk back, you will need to roll it out to be taller again. Fold the left third into the middle, fold the right third in the middle, fold in half, press the edges together, cover with cling film and leave for 15 minutes at room temperature. It's a good idea to stick 2 fingers into the pastry to make 2 impressions so you know the stage it is at.

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10. See the diagram above. Roll it out to be 4 times wider, and it will have shrunk back, so roll it taller again. Fold the left quarter in to the middle, the right quarter in to the middle, fold in half. press the edges together, cover with cling film and leave for 15 minutes. You can mark it with 3 finger impressions, it will be ready for use once it's rested, or for freezing.

11. Once it's rested like this, it can be rolled out to a thin pastry (about half a centimeter, quarter of an inch) is typical and used.

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