Puff pastries are absolutely delicious! When made properly, they practically melt in your mouth, with the juicy filling just oozing out. The choice of filling is yours, either sweet or savoury. What I'll give here is the savoury kind, though you should technically be able to do the sweet kind as well. I'm not sure if the puff pastry would be sweet in that case, though.
So...what exactly is puff pastry? Puff pastry is a really flaky, really buttery pastry that is really difficult to make. They are the epitome of Puasa (and Raya) food - too troublesome to make everyday, but oh so delicious and impressive looking! So try the recipe below ... if you dare ;):
What you need:
Filling - similar to that in the Bun recipe before
What you do:
- Sift the flour and salt onto a large clean surface. Add just a little bit of butter (which is just soft enough so that it would be easy to knead) and ice-cold water. Knead gently, until the dough is smooth and does not stick to your fingers. Add more eater if needed - the dough should be nice and elastic.
- Divide the dough into 2, and roll out each one seperately, in quite thin pieces. Spread soft butter or margarine (but not melted!) onto one flat piece, and place the other piece on the butter, to make a sandwich, of sorts. Roll the sandwich gently, to seal the butter in. Make sure that the butter does not leak through the edges.
- Fold one third of the dough towards the middle, then the remaining third towards the middle, to form 3 layers. Press down gently, but do not seal the edges. Place in the refrigerator to cool down for about 15 minutes.
- Place it onto a floured surface. Roll and fold as before, with the unsealed edges now in the middle of the pastry. Turn and repeat 3 more times. Place in the fridge for about 15 minutes to cool down.
- Repeat step 4 one more time. The pastry is now ready to use. At all times, make sure the pastry is cool and never let the butter melt. Otherwise, you will lose the flakiness. make the pastry a day before filling, leaving it in the fridge the whole time before using, to make sure that all the butter inside has hardened.
- To fill the pastry, roll out the pastry into a flat piece. Trim the edges. Divide into 2 (or 3, if you have a particular big piece). Place the desired filling into the middle of each piece, and carefully wrap the pastry around it to form a "log".
- These pastry logs can be stored for quite a long time in the freezer, so you can make them in advance, then whip them out for guests whenever you want.
- To cake the pastries, cut the pastry logs into bite sized pieces - with a SHARP knife! the pastry must be frozen when baked in the oven. Brush lightly beaten egg over each piece. Place into an oven preheated at 230 C and bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
These pastries can be eaten hot or cold, though the y are particularly yummy hot. *drool* (why, oh why, am I writing this masa puasa?) They are particularly impressive when served for Raya. Engage your guests in some conversation while they are baking in the oven, excuse yourself for a bit, and come back with piping hot puff pastries! Make them slightly smaller in this case, and place them into little pastry cases (you know...the paper cases they use for tarts and stuff?) before serving them on a pretty plate. I guarantee your guests will be amazed!
Unfortunately, puff pastry is quite tedious to make. Do not overhandle the dough, or let the butter melt. If it shows any sign of being too soft, pop it into the fridge (or freezer) to cool down for a bit before continuing. Obviously, don't work in direct sunlight. The extra dough you get from trimming the edges in step 6 can still be used. Cut them into smaller pieces and roll them (with your hands, I mean) to form smaller "empty" puffs - which are still quite yummy! Or you can mix with a little bit of cheese, and bake them.
Ready-made puff pastry IS available (though I'm not so sure in Brunei), but the ones I've tried before leave a lot to be desired. They weren't as rich and buttery, nor were they as flaky as home-made pastry - and the rich and buttery flakiness of puff pastry is what makes it so yummy! But they do provide an easier alternative, I admit. Also, in case my instructions were too garbled for you, here's a site that provides an illustrated recipe for making puff pastries. I am sure though, that as you get more experienced, you will have no more need for it ;)