I came back from my vacation thinking about recipes that require attention. I am eager to learn, touch, feel doughs, know temperatures… Recipes in which the environment plays a role, the way I handle the dough will make a difference. I have been dreaming of cheese making again, bread with levain and of course, pâte feuilletée or puff pastry.
Ever since the Daring Bakers danish challenge, I couldn’t stop thinking about making laminated doughs again. I have been obsessed with it. Call me crazy. Laminated doughs in the middle of the Florida summer can be a challenge but for some reason, this recipe was uncomplicated, much more so than the danish recipe. I didn’t rush it and that made a difference.
As you might know, I come from a family of pastry chefs. I grew up in the family pastry shop where puff pastry was made from scratch almost everyday. There were no freezers used back then and there are none today. My uncle Jose is a master at the art of pâte feuilletée and watching him work is a true pleasure. To this day, I believe a good pastry shop distinguishes itself by the quality of their laminated doughs such as mille-feuilles and croissants.
This dough only has six ingredients but it requires about 2 days worth of mixing, rolling and folding. There are six letter folds that make this one of the flakiest pâte feuilletée I have ever made. The dough is elastic and if chilled enough in between rolling, it is quite easy to handle.
I wish I could have taken photos of the process since that is the most important task with this recipe, but unfortunately, I couldn’t because lighting was poor and because I had a toddler running around in the kitchen. Please visit Fanny’s blog for great photos on how to roll and fold puff pastry.
I made the dough, rolled it into two large rectangles and froze them until I was ready to bake them. With the first sheet I made the chocolate mousse and raspberry napoleons and reserved the second sheet to make palmiers, which are C.’s favorite pastries.
Chocolate Pâte Feuilletée
adapted from Pierre Hermes’ “Chocolate Desserts”
420 grams all purpose flour
185 grams cold water
2 tsp salt
70 grams, unsalted butter, melted and cooled
425 grams butter, slightly softened
50 grams cocoa powder, sifted
Place flour on a working surface and make a well in the center. Dissolve the salt into the cold water and add this to the center of the flour well. Slowly start mixing the flour and the water together with circular motions and always working in the center so the water is absorbed by the flour and we work neatly. When they are mixed, add the melted and cooled butter.
Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. It will not be a super smooth dough at this point but don’t worry because we will keep developing the gluten as we roll the dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap forming a rectangle that is approximately 6 inches long on one side. Refrigerate overnight.
To make the lock-in butter, cream the butter with the paddle attachment until smooth but still cold. Add the sifted cocoa powder and cream until the cocoa is absorbed by the butter. Wrap in plastic wrap also forming a rectangle that is a bit smaller than the previous one. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, pull the dough out of the refrigerator and roll to a rectangle that is about 1 cm thick (1/3 inch) and about 30×18 cm long (12×7 inches). Remove the lock-in butter out of the fridge. It will be harder than the dough but we need to have both right about the same consistency, so pound the butter with a rolling pin to soften it slightly.
Place the slightly softer butter on top of the right half of the dough rectangle. Fold the left side of the dough over the butter creating a packet. Seal in the edges. If necessary, press the dough down so the butter reaches every corner of the dough. We want the butter to spread evenly all over to create even layers. Place the dough on a sheetpan, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it to a rectangle that is 3 times wider than tall, about 52x18cm (7×21 inches). Fold the dough like a letter, bringing the right third over the middle third and folding the left on top of it. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours. This was the first turn and make sure to mark it somewhere so you don’t lose track of how many folds you have done.
Repeat this procedure 5 more times for a total of 6 letter folds, always rolling the dough with the open edges to the left and right of you. Refrigerate the dough after each turn. Use flour when rolling but brush off any excess after each turn to avoid getting too much flour on the dough. If the dough rips a bit and the butter is exposed, don’t worry, try to patch it as well as you can but keep going. After all the folds are done, it will not matter that much.
After the last fold, refrigerate the dough overnight. You can use it the next day or what I did was roll it into two sheets and froze them until I was ready to use them. This dough will be good in the refrigerator for a couple of days and up to one month in the freezer.
Caramelized Chocolate Mille-Feuille with Chocolate Mousse and Fresh Raspberries
Place a sheet of puff pastry on a sheetpan lined with parchment paper. Pre-heat oven to 450F. Sprinkle granulated sugar over the top of the puff pastry and place it in the oven. Reduce heat to 375F and bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, place a cooling rack on top of the puff pastry to stop it from rising too much. Bake for an additional 10 minutes with the cooling rack on top of the pastry.
Remove the sheetpan from the oven. Cover the puff pastry with a sheet of parchment paper and with the help of another sheetpan, flip it over. Remove parchment from the top and now, the sugared side will be on the bottom and the plain side will be facing you. Place this sheetpan back in the oven and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the puff pastry cool.
Cut the pastry into same size rectangles. Pipe two rows of chocolate mousse on top of a rectangle, place a row of fresh raspberries in the center and top with another layer of puff pastry. Decorate with fresh berries.
Sprinkle granulated sugar on top of a sheet of chocolate puff pastry. Fold it just like a fan. Take the left side and fold it in the middle and the same with the right side. Then fold these two against each other creating a fan. Roll this log in granulated sugar and refrigerate for 15 minutes until it chills some more.
Cut 1/2 inch pieces vertically. Press each palmier gently into granulated sugar (both sides). Place these on a sheetpan lined with parchment and bake in a 375F oven for 8 minutes. Turn the palmiers over and bake for another 8 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let the palmiers cool.