Mention laminated doughs to most bakers and you’ll see them visibly cringe at the memory of making their own. Mention laminated doughs to almost anyone else and see their eyes glaze over in a complete failure to understand what you’ve just said. Although many people haven’t heard of laminated dough, everyone has enjoyed eating it. Croissants, Danish, puff pastry, and the host of other typical café fare are all created using dough of the laminated variety.
However laminated dough is not typically made in most home kitchens, or even in most commercial kitchens (many bakeries and restaurants buy theirs) and with good reason. The traditional process of making this form of dough is notoriously time-consuming. But what if there were another way? A shortcut so to speak, where one could achieve those buttery layers without investing two days of their lives in the process?
Well, there is. Known as Rough Puff or Blitz Puff Pastry this method effectively quarters your time in the kitchen and produces an almost identical dough to that of the traditional variety. While the ingredients remain the same the major difference lies in the method of incorporation. In the classic laminated dough, a thick slab of butter is encased in an “envelope” of dough. Then rolled out, folded into thirds, and rolled again. Between each of these “turns”, as they are called, the dough must rest for twenty minutes or longer. And the number of turns generally lands somewhere between 7-9. As you can imagine the time invested really starts to add up.
By incorporating the butter into the flour in chunks we disperse the fat throughout the dough from the very beginning, effectively cutting down the number of necessary turns. Folding the dough and rolling it out in the traditional manner ensures the same layers. The secret behind laminated dough is steam. Puff pastry starts as a lean dough (flour and water) that is combined with an obscene amount of butter. In the oven, the water in the dough and in the butter is transformed into steam. The steam provides just enough force to lift and separate the layers of dough before evaporating in the oven leaving behind the delicate flaky pastry.
-Since many commercial brands of puff pastry use shortening, it is really worth the time and effort to make your own. Not only is it exponentially healthier to use real butter, but it also tastes much better.
Rough Puff Pastry
4 cups Flour
2 ¼ cups Unsalted Butter (4 ½ sticks)
½ cup Ice Water
1 Tbsp. Fine Salt
½ tsp. Lemon Juice (if not using your pastry the same day, this addition of acid prevents discoloration in the dough.)
Pour your flour onto a countertop, preferably marble.
Using your hands, make a “well” in the center of your pile of flour.
Add the cold butter and salt into the center of the well.
Using your hands, work the butter and flour together, bringing the flour from the outside into the middle. When you’re done it should look something like this, big chunks of butter will still be obvious but they should be evenly dispersed throughout. Now add the water and work it into a dough.
Roll out your dough, once again big chunks of butter will be visible but this is what you want. It won’t be very pretty but do not fear, after one or two turns the dough will become lovely and smooth.
See? This dough is only on its second turn and is already much smoother. Each turn consists of the above actions. Rolling into a rectangle, folding up one-third of the dough, folding down the other third. Turn and roll out again.
Limit your rolling and turning to two times. To help keep track of your turns, use your fingers to make small indentations.