Sunday 6 April 2008
Pâte feuilletée [puff pastry] is one of those things that people don’t make, ahem, very often. You might, which you should be blessed for; but so far, I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t rely on store-bought puff pastry. I guess this is okay for most of us; I have to admit that whenever I have a tart craving and no time to make puff pastry, I prefer to quickly put a simple pâte brisée together and get on with the filling comme si de rien était.
However, come over on a Sunday morning and you’re likely to find me making pâte feuilletée. I just love to make puff pastry, see the beautiful cream-white layers come to life, fold the smooth dough. Oh yeah, this is good people and you should try. But if I’m being totally honest, the best thing I like about making puff pastry is to eat what I make with the scraps. You know, those little ribbons of dough that get cut during the making process: after the dough has been rolled and before folding, I trim the far ends of the dough so it looks like a proper rectangle.
Oh I know what you’re thinking. Those little buggers look totally unpretentious. Sure they have that lovely golden-brown colour, that endearing caramel aroma, but well, in the end they’re simply bâtonnets of puff pastry. But you’re oh so wrong.
Those people, are the unfussy* version of the fancy palmiers. Think crispy layers of sweet and caramelised puff pastry, which rank them quite high amongst my favourites. High enough for me to forget about my original tart cravings, which slowly morphes into roches carbonatées caramelisées du Carbonifère cravings as I roll and fold.
And in case you didn’t get it, I did name them caramelised Carboniferous carbonate rocks, for they look nowhere near a palm tree, but marine limestone beds, well, that will do. Quite obviously their name comes from the day I spent studying, or more accurately: procrastinating, for the oral de géologie I was supposed to take the next day by making pâte feuilletée and the so-called, feuilletés comme des roches carbonatées du Carbonifère.
* not that palmiers are difficult to make. They actually take the same time to be shaped, but just look different. Plus, since the folding is done in a different way, the palmier tend to expand horizontally; while those presque-palmiers grow vertically, which I really like.
Since those cookies are made from the scraps, this is anything but a recipe; more a sort of guideline to follow. Simply use plety of sugar and make sure the scraps of dough you start with are fridge-cold before beginning.
You preheat the oven to 240°C and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
You then dust your work plan with a good handful of golden sugar, pile the cold scraps of pâte feuilletée and finely roll them out. Dust the dough with more sugar and fold into three – just like you would do with a business letter. Roll out again, dust with sugar and fold.
You finally roll the dough into a half a centimetre thick* rectangle that’s about 10cm-wide and slice this into 1.5cm bâtonnets. Reduce the oven temperature to 190°C and bake until well puffed and golden, I’d say around 15-20 minutes.* if using proper finished puff pastry instead of scraps, roll the pastry way thinner, like 1 or 2 mm thick, or your presque-palmiers will grow tall then fall on the side in a twisted-style.
If after reading this you don’t need to make pâte feuilletée – that is just for having the chance to bite into one of those -, then I would suggest you pay your doctor a visit. By the way, this is totally a teaser for the pâte feuilletée 101 that will come later this week.