Easy puff pastry

Puff pastry is easy to do and it can take home cooking to another level so it is worth taking the time to learn how to make it.
Why does puff pastry strike fear in the hearts of otherwise accomplished cooks? They'll happily whip up some shortcrust pastry or a few loaves of yeast bread, but claim they've neither the skill nor the time for puff pastry. Well, I think they have both! It isn't too difficult and doesn't take nearly as much time as you'd think. The dramatic, delicious results are well worth the effort.
Wonderfully versatile, there are so many different dishes and desserts that I like to use puff pastry for. After making it a couple of times, you'll have mastered the process, and your sense of achievement will be matched only by how impressed everyone else is!
If you've ever rolled out pastry, then you have enough skill to make puff pastry. It requires a little extra precision with your rolling, as proper rectangles are needed each time. Though this isn't especially difficult, it does get easier with some practice.
If you have even a few hours at home, then you have enough time to make puff pastry. Even then, most of that time is for the pastry to rest in the fridge – you'll only spend about half an hour or so actually making the pastry.
The rise in puff pastry comes not from yeast or bread soda, but from the hundreds of layers of flour and butter that you fold into the pastry as you make it. The result is unequalled: crisp, flaky, buttery and beautiful.
There are a few important points to remember to ensure that your pastry rises and tastes good. The dough must always be kept chilled, so never leave it out of the fridge for too long. If the butter begins to melt into the flour, the pastry will be greasy and it won't rise properly. The other important step is to make sure your rectangles are accurate, with straight edges and right angles! That way, when you fold them up, the edges will align correctly and your pastry will rise evenly.
If you're in any way inclined, then I urge you to give puff pastry a try. It's undeniably impressive and, once you know how to, I think it's so much fun to make. Plus, it keeps in the freezer for up to three months, so you can make a big batch like this and it can be the golden crowning glory to a parade of different dinners.

Puff Pastry Recipes: 

Rachel recommends
If you'll be making a lot of pastry, it might be worth picking up a marble pastry board. They are really useful as, if you keep them in a cool place, when you need to use them, they provide a nice cool surface for you to work on, ensuring that your pastry doesn't overheat. You can either buy prepared marble slabs at kitchen shops and online, or you can buy offcuts from marble and stonemasons.
Rachel's tip
OK! If you really don't have the time, you can buy puff pastry, but do try to buy puff pastry that uses 100 per cent butter.

Shaneod May 19, 2014 News