Get ready for a pretty image-heavy post! I finally dared to make puff pastry. I'm not gonna lie, it takes a lot of hours and a lot of patience. But it's not too difficult and the results are worth your work. If you follow my step-by-step, you will end up with 1kg of homemade puff pastry that you can use or freeze for future pastries! So let the fun begin!
The first recipe that I wanted to attempt with my homemade puff pastry was this Rhubarb and Cream Cheese Danish. Now, maybe you are unaware of this, but rhubarb is not something that is typically used here where I live. It actually took me quite a lot of time to find, and I had to go to "La Boqueria" which is a market place where you can find nearly anything, or at least, the rare things that you will not find in a supermarket. I actually
last summer. Even there, the vendor I asked for help thought I was from Germany, because people do not use rhubarb here.
Then, will you ask, how come you wanted it so desperately? It all started some time ago, I didn't have the blog yet, and I found a story that I fell in love with. Amazingly well written, it described vividly the colors, the smells and flavors of a love story that took place in a farmers market. Each chapter belonged to a month, and each month was matched with the fruit that was in season. The way the author described the simple act of biting into a peach was breathtaking.
Recently I re-read the story and I became obsessed again. I thought it would be fun to try and recreate the recipes, or at least, to make a recipe each month related to the fruit or vegetable that it was about. Therefore, in April: Rhubarb.
This recipes involved a lot of research on my part! The puff pastry recipe is from the book
Patisserie: Mastering the Fundamentals of French Pastry by Christophe Felder. It's a great book, with step-by-step explanations of the recipes, and I found it very useful. For the rhubarb part, I used the idea from this recipe (but only for its appearance) and I learned how to poach rhubarb here.
Puff Pastry TUTORIAL
yields 1kg of puff pastry
- 500g flour
- 60g sugar
- 10g powdered milk
- 12g salt
- 100g butter (room temperature)
- 25g fresh yeast
- 230ml cold water
- 250g very cold butter
- In a big bowl, mix flour, sugar, powdered milk, salt, room temperature butter and fresh yeast. Stir while gently adding water, kneading the dough until obtaining an elastic and homogeneous dough.
- Place the dough on a floured work space and flatten with a rolling pin to obtain a rectangle. Put in plastic wrap in the fridge for 2 hours.
- Between two parchment papers, flatten the cold butter with a rolling pin until obtaining a rectangle about half the size of the dough. Put in the refrigerator but, just before starting to work with the dough again, put in the freezer.
- Extend the dough with the rolling pin until you get a rectangle with a thickness of 7mm. Place the cold butter on the lower half of the rectangle and cover it with the other half, bearing in mind that the butter must be completely covered by dough.
- Turn the dough so the closure is to our right. Extend it with the rolling pin until obtaining a rectangle with a thickness of about 6mm.
- Fold the lower part of the dough rectangle at the 2/3 point of it. Fold the other part so there are no empty spaces. Fold the obtained rectangle in half.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Put the dough on a floured surface with the fold to our right. Flatten with the rolling pin until obtaining a thickness of 6mm.
- Fold 1/3 of the dough over itself and fold the remaining third over the previous fold, obtaining three layers of dough. Wrap in plastic and put in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Extend the dough to obtain a square of 4mm of thickness. Cut the dough into two rectangles and refrigerate one half while working with the other one.
At this point, you can freeze some dough if you want. I only used 1/4 of it for this recipe. To freeze, I cut the dough into rectangles and stored them in the freezer in plastic wrap, with slightly floured parchment paper between each layer of dough.
Rhubarb and Cream Cheese Danish
- 250g puff pastry
- 1 stalk of rhubarb 25cm long
- 120ml water
- 2 Tbs honey
- the juice of 1 lemon
- 113g cream cheese
- 3 Tbs sugar
- 1 Tbs heavy cream
For the egg wash you will need 1 egg and 2 Tbs of milk.
- Poaching the rhubarb: cut the rhubarb stalk into 4cm pieces, and those into quarts (vertically). Heat the water, honey and lemon juice in a pot until it boils, and add the rhubarb. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, until tender. Remove the rhubarb and set aside. (Optional: keep heating the liquid until it reduces into a syrup that can be otherwise used.)
- Cream cheese: beat cheese, sugar and heavy cream until smooth.
- Assembling the danish: cut the puff pastry into squares and put on a lined oven tray. Leave a separation of approximately 4 cm between each piece.
- With the egg wash, paint lightly each square tip and fold so the tips are pressed into the centre of the square.
- Put a tablespoon of cream cheese on the centre of each square and place two or three rhubarb pieces on top of it.
- Cover with a tea towel and let them sit for 2 hours in a warm room. Paint the sides of the danish with the egg wash before baking.
- Bake at 190ºC (375ºF) for 20-30 minutes (up until the danishes are golden).
I realize that this is a lot of information all at once. If you are willing to do the danishes but not prepared to do the puff pastry, just buy it in the supermarket. And if you don't like/can't find rhubarb, you can use fresh strawberries instead.
Here are the pdfs of the recipes: