I’m not a food snob, really. I occasionally enjoy toasties with plastic cheese and white supermarket bread and I’ve been known to enjoy a mug of instant soup just as much as home-made (Cup-a-soup creamy chicken and corn, nyum nyum!). However, when it comes to things baked or sweet, for some reason I find myself blanching at the thought of buying instant or premade anything. I pale at the thought of biscuits from a packet (except the biscuits that I use for the base of my cheesecake and Tim Tams), I frown at the notion of cartons of pourable custard and I sniff disdainfully at the idea of buying puff pastry.
However, as I held a great fear of actually MAKING puff pastry, this also meant that I was left unable to try recipes that called for them. No mille-feuilles, no delicate little pies or tarts….*sniff* Simply put, this situation would not do! Being on holidays at the moment, I made up my mind that I’d make a careful venture into the world of puffiness, and therefore began hunting for an easy recipe that wouldn’t see me breaking down into tears.
As I had made up my mind to make puff pastry, I wondered what exactly I would do with it. I mean, it’s one thing to make the dough, but how exactly was I going to utilize it? I toyed with the idea of Portuguese custard tarts, but the recipe was far too involved. I wondered about a mille-feuille but once I saw the state of the berries at the supermarket I very quickly changed my mind. Vol-au-vants are cute but cliched – and really, when I was so nervous about the pastry, did I really want to much about with creating a complicated filling?
In the end, I decided to go with a red bean paste to make simple little pies, a tsp of filling sandwiched between two rounds of pastry, edges brushed with egg white and pressed together. Once again, I have fallen for Nigella’s charm and I thoroughly recommend this recipe to anyone who feels they’d like to give puff pastry a try, but want to take baby steps there like me
Nigella’s Processor Puff Pastry
(from Nigella Lawson’s “How to be a domestic goddess“)
250g strong white flour
A pinch of salt
250g cold unsalted butter, cut into 5mm slices
A squeeze of lemon juice
5-6 tablespoons iced water
1. Pulse the flour and salt together in the processor, then add the butter and pulse 3-4 times, the butter should be cut up but still be in visible chunks.
2. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and the iced water, and pulse till the pastry begins to form a ball, then tip out onto the bench and form a ball. Wrap tightly in cling wrap and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
3. Dust the benchtop with flour, then roll the pastry into a long rectangle into a long rectangle three times longer than it is wide, then fold it in three like a business letter. Roll out again to the same length and repeat the fold and roll another 2 times (not rolling out after the last fold).
4. Wrap in cling wrap and rest in the fridge for another 30 minutes before using it to allow the gluten to relax. When baking, brush with a lightly beaten egg white and bake in an oven preheated to 200 degrees C till puffed and golden brown.
[tags]puff pastry, nigella lawson, domestic goddess, pastry, baking, recipes[/tags]