Thursday, May 24, 2012

Puff Pastry

Plans dreamed up during the day in the odd moment I have spare, rarely end up as that night's meal, either lack of ingredients or time. I had great plans of making a dashi-chicken broth, whipping up some of McGee’s alkaline noodles, and serving with a hamine egg and shredded chicken, but it just seemed a bit too much for a Monday night after work. So instead I whipping up a couple of oxtail pot pies, a thick rich stew topped with a pastry shell.

The stew was a pretty simple, chuck together of oxtail, red wine, swede, potato, carrot, onion, garlic, anchovy, brandy, caraway, bay leaf, thyme, mustard, salt and pepper. Just brown up the meat, then the onions, deglaze with the brandy and wine, then add the rest, put it in the cooker on high pressure and wait, or simmer away on a stove until the meat is tender and the cooking liquid reduced to a thick luscious gravy.

So while the meat was cooking, I got onto the pastry. I’ve never made my own puff pastry, I make shortcrust quite often, but I always thought puff must be hard, anyway I had the idea of pot pie, I wanted a pastry crust, and like heck I was going to buy it. After some research, I was pleasantly surprised just how easy it seemed, the main theme I read, was to make sure to keep the dough cool, so the layers of folded pastry don't meld into each other. Apart from that it seemed like any other pastry, just folded and rolled a bit more.

200 grams Flour
1 tsp Salt
200 grams Butter (unsalted)
120 ml Water (Cold)

  1. Sieve the salt and flour into a bowl.
  2. Work the butter into the flour with your fingers, you want a large bread crumb type texture but still have some large pieces of butter in there.
  3. Pour in about half of the water and work it into the butter/flour mixture, adding more water if needed, you want a firm dough that's not too sticky.
  4. Cover and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Roll the dough out in one direction, keeping the edges straight, and trying to make it as rectangular as possible.

Fold the bottom third up, and then the top third down, and roll out again to the original size. Repeat two or three times more, on the last repetition stop before re-rolling, cover and place in the fridge for another 20 minutes. If the dough gets too soft during the rolling process pop it back in the fridge for a couple of minutes.

Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out to a couple of millimeters thick. Cut out the desired shape with a sharp knife, you don't want to pinch the edge together with a dull knife as it won't puff properly.

The amounts in the above recipe was more than enough for the two pies, and a healthy number of Palmiers.


  1. Despite a very sudden onset of hot weather here, those pies look great. Congratualtions on the pastry; I've never tried to make puff.

    Rather than a pressure cooker, I go to the opposite extreme with oxtail and use a crock pot/slow cooker.

    Question: is a stew in a pot with a pastry lid a pie, or do you need pastry underneath as well to qualify for pie status :) ? Me, I'm no pie purist; I usually just make a lid :).

    1. Maybe I should call it a pot-pie?

      I do prefer the oxtail stew done in a crock pot long and slow, but on a week night after work don't usually have the time to wait 3-4 hours.