A few weeks ago I made puff pastry from scratch, mostly because it seemed to me a worthy rite of passage for the amateur baker.
As I rolled the dough and folded the pastry layers, I declared out loud (mostly to myself), “I need to work in a bakery.” Seriously, I got weirdly giddy about making homemade puff pastry and not having to ever buy it from the grocery store again.
Puff pastry is versatile, used in both savory and sweet dishes. It’s ideal for crisp, buttery pastries and crusts like tarts, pot pies, and turnovers. I made some cherry turnovers for breakfast, and froze the leftover pastry dough for later use.
Traditional puff pastry is time-intensive, but this quick shortcut method gives you a pretty great result. You just need a good rolling pin, lots of flour and butter, and some baking love.
Quick Puff Pastry
1 cup ice water
In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the flour and salt. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment, scatter the butter over the flour mixture, and mix on medium speed until the butter is the size of large peas and coated with flour. On medium-low speed, add the vinegar and then drizzle in the ice water until the flour mixture is moistened and starts to come together. You may not need all of it.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, gather it into a ball, and knead lightly until uniform. Roll out into an 11-by-17-inch rectangle ½-inch thick. Dust off the excess flour from the surface. With a short side facing you, fold the bottom third up and then fold the top third down over it, as if folding a business letter. It should now measure about 6 by 11 inches. If the dough seems warm, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Again, roll Out the dough into an 11-by-17-inch rectangle, 1/2 inch thick and fold into thirds. Roll and fold one more time. Using the rolling pin, press the folded dough lightly on top to seal the folds. Cut the folder rectangle into thirds, wrap each third tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Or freeze for up to 3 months and thaw, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight. Makes enough for 3 10-inch tarts.
1/3 recipe quick puff pastry (above) or 1 sheet store-bought frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
2 tablespoons ground almonds
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 cup pitted and stemmed cherries, fresh, thawed frozen, or drained canned
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons coarse turbinado or demerara sugar
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured work surface roll out the pastry into an 18-by-12-inch rectangle, about 1/8-inch thick. Cut the rectangle into 6 6-inch squares. In a small bowl, stir together the ground almonds and confectioner’s sugar. In a medium bowl, stir together the cherries, 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar, and the flour.
Place 2 teaspoons of the almond mixture in the center of each square. Divide the cherry mixture evenly among the squares, placing it on the almond mixture. Brush 2 contiguous sides of each square lightly with egg white and fold in half to form a triangle. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Place the pastries on the prepared pan, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. (At this point, the turnovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 3 months and then topped and baked directly from the freezer, increasing the baking time to 25 minutes.)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Recrimp the edges of each turnover with a fork. Brush the tops lightly with egg white. Sprinkle evenly with the 2 tablespoons coarse. Using a sharp knife, cut 2 small vents in the top of each triangle.
Bake for 20 minutes, until puffed and golden. Let cool on the pan. Serve warm. Makes 6 turnovers.