Puff Pastry and Sfogliatelle

Discussion in 'Egg, Chicken, & Other Favorite Recipes' started by bigmike&nan, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. bigmike&nan

    bigmike&nan Chillin' With My Peeps

    I wrote this recipe while I was still a bachelor living in California, reading it made me miss my old friends there.
    I don't think of making Puff Pastry that big a deal, to me it is a "zen thing" - I remember the chef instructors walking behind us during particularly hard practical exercises and reminding us to breathe (we'd all laugh because a lot of us WERE working holding our breath). Watch this very relaxing Brazilian music video clip and then when you feel real relaxed try my pastry:

    This pastry makes a wonderful crust for a pot pie !!!!!! I freeze sections of the dough in zippered freezer bags and it works just as well as the very expensive Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry sheets.... Perfecting this skill is way easier than you might imagine...

    (This recipe is dedicated to my 14 year old neighbor buddy Willie and his folks who are the best friends... also cudos to my pals at HBO Sopranos Forums, one person in particular whose handle SFOGLIATELLE piqued my curiousity and got me making these lovely Italian ricotta filled pastries described below...)

    Here's one of those things that to a novice cook would seem insurmountable to do, but in actuality is not such a big deal. It's something you do in little spurts of time. Make a big batch and you can break it down into batches and freeze in ziplock freezer bags to thaw and use later. Keeps for months in the freezer

    Now if you were to put on your Alton Brown hat and ask what makes this puff it is simple, it is the combination of the tiny amount of yeast in the dough but mostly the miniscule layers of rolled out butter between the dough (minuscule by the repeated rolling and folding, rolling and folding) that injects a small amount of moisture which is converted into steam during the baking process that causes the layers to puff. Whoever invented this stuff should have surely gotten the afternoon off... LOL

    Mis en place

    1 cup tepid water
    4 cups plus all purpose flour
    1/2 tsp. dry yeast
    pinch of sugar

    1 lb high quality butter (preferably a low water content butter, like PFULGRA

    You make a basic bread dough with HALF the usual amount of yeast: place 1 cup of tepid water in the mixing bowl, add yeast and a pinch of sugar. Let rest for about 10 minutes, yeast should foam a little. Proceed. Add 2 cups of the all purpose flour and mix in with large wooden spoon, dough will be very wet, slowly add remaining flour a bit at a time as you work dough with spoon. When dough is no longer wet begin working dough with closed fist, pushing down on dough with fist and with other hand turning bowl 1/3 turn. Work dough like this 2 minutes, adding flour a tiny bit at at time so dough doesn't stick to fist or bowl. Dough should end up pliant and soft, but not sticky OR too dry. Let rest covered with towel 1 hour. Meanwhile remove butter from fridge. Take a break, have an espresso.


    Dust your work surface with some all purpose flour, take dough and you roll it into a big rectangle, use rolling pin or the side of your hand to square up edges of dough so it stays straight. Roll out into a decent sized rectangle. Now cut butter to fit on roughly half the dough leaving a 1 inch margin at the bottom and sides.


    Fold over other half of doughand square up edges with rolling pin or edge of your hand. Now turn 90 degrees and roll again into a large rectangle. Now LETTER FOLD from top down and bottom up. Push one finger into corner of dough, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. This lets dough rest AND butter firm up some.


    Now remove dough from fridge and on floured surface roll out into a large rectanlge, letter fold carefully, rotate 90 degrees, roll out into large rectangle, letter fold carefully - stick 2 fingers into edge of dough, cover and refrigerate/rest again for 1 hour. Repeat the rolling, letter folding, rolling letter folding, resting in fridge process two more times.... You now have puff pastry. You can take this dough, roll it out into a rectanlge and cut up in big pieces to store separately in ziplock bags in the freezer for later use...


    Now, things to do with puff pastry besides Sfogliatelle or berry shortcakes made of stacked layers of fruit/pastry/custard...

    Try this lovely 4 lb. chunk of whole filet of beef wrapped and baked in puff pastry, I included a layer of duxelles (finely chopped mushrooms sauteed in butter) on top of the seasoned meat and then when I had the meat wrapped in the pastry I decorated the top with scraps of pastry cut into leaves, flowers and vines.


    _ Disclaimer_ Though I call the following method I use Sfogliatelle my Jersey bred wife says the Sfogliatelle she is used to seeing are shell shaped, not at all looking like what I made. Yet their odd shape didn't slow her down when it came time to eating them... LOL. YOU can use the same pastry and filling and roll yoour dough out very thin into a long and wide retangle. Then very carefull roll the dough into a tight spiral. Let that chill and then thinly slice pieces and work each one into a cone, thus exposing bits of each turn. See the long and quiet video which appears to hVE beEN made in a European Culinary School.

    Also consider making little puff pastry appetizers. Get yourself a big batch of the dough and then cut them in squares or circles (a glass works great for a template) and fill little one side with something like leftover beef stew, or a curried lamb and potato concoction, or buy some chinese barbequed pork, or little spicey meatballs, one of my favorites is to prepare some escargot in a herbed lemon butter paste and wrap those. Then during the playoffs or regular MNF game I pull an assortment of those out of the freezer and bake them off at 400 degree (takes about 12-18 minutes to bake them) until they're golden in color. DELICIOUS !!!

    Using your own homemade pastry or store bought Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets you can make these really amazing pastries... This is the EASY version but they look at taste just great. I use a mini muffin tin, but if you have a cupcake tin that would make nice sized ones.

    Mis en place

    1 lb. ricotto cheese
    1/4 cup candied fruit (or 1/4 raisins soaked in Jack Daniels)
    zest of 1 lemon
    1/2 cup white sugar
    2 egg yolks

    1 package Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, thawed and rolled thinly
    powdered sugar

    Render out much of the water from the ricotta in a thin kitchen towel. Place all ingredients in mixer bowl and whip on medium speed about 2 minutes. Roll out pastry and cut 3 to 4 inch squares (this depends on the size of your cup cake cups). Butter inside of cupcake pan cups generously. Place a square of the pastry down into the pan with the sides hanging out, repeat for each cup until all are filled. Now add a couple tablespoons of the filling down into the cups. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little water or beaten egg and bring up the edges of the pastry into a bunch and pinch closed. Repeat for each cup.


    Bake at 400 for 15-18 minutes or until pastry is golden. Remove to a cool location and after about 3 or 4 minutes carefully remove each sfogliatelle to a plate.


    Allow to cool at least 1/2 hour. Place powdered sugar in a sifter and dust generoulsy on tops, turn on sides and repeat dusting. Before serving dust again with sifted powdered sugar. Serve with you best espresso or a Vin Santo...

    Last edited: Apr 20, 2009

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by