Puff Pastry

Puff Pastry

A wonderfully rich and flaky pastry, puff pastry is made by enclosing butter inside a sheet of pastry. Once the pastry is wrapped around the butter, the dough is rolled and folded several times to make many thin layers of butter and pastry. When it is baked, the pastry rises and separates into layers as the steam released from the butter lifts up the thin sheets of dough. Puff pastry makes incredibly luscious sweet and savory baked goods, including tart shells and napoleons. Yeast is sometimes added to puff pastry to make the dough used for croissants.

When storing, wrap well in plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Refrigerate for 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Dip the cookie cutter into flour to prevent it from sticking when cutting shapes out of dough. To avoid an uneven rise, use a cookie cutter that has a relatively sharp edge. Cut straight down and lift straight up without twisting from side to side. If you are slicing pastry dough, use a pastry wheel or pizza cutter. If you are using knife, it should be sharp. Press the blade through rather than dragging it through the dough. Also, make sure that any egg wash that you brush onto the cutouts does not drip down the sides.

To save preparation time, stock commercially prepared, frozen puff pastry. It is widely available and is such a versatile product that it should be a staple in every home cook's freezer. Defrost the pastry in the refrigerator for 2 hours before using.

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