As an experienced baker, I’ll tell you upfront that I don’t make puff pastry nor phyllo (filo) dough from scratch. The latter, both time and space consuming, is definitely best left to the experts.
Puff pastry, known to French bakers as pate feuilletée, is simply time consuming – not hard. And because it should be made in a kitchen that’s about 60 degrees, leaves out my South Florida kitchen except in winter – which is a window of, oh, roughly one week in late January or February.
Puff pastry is made of dozens of fine layers of dough, made of flour, fat and water. A base dough is made, then rolled out, and layered with solid butter (or other fat), then methodically folded and rolled out to spread the butter. The dough rests for up to an hour; then the dough is given a 1/4 turn, and the process is repeated – dozens of times.
So – I buy both doughs premade in the grocery store. They’re in the freezer case.
Once thawed, they lend themselves to dozens of applications – sweet and savory.
One of my favorite quick things to do with puff pastry is to make twists – Parmesan, rosemary, garlic, cheese – these are great “starters” for cocktails or impromptu get-togethers. You can bake them well ahead of a party; merely store stacked on a wrapped tray to avoid breaking as they are somewhat fragile. Serve in a vase or wide glass, or arranged in a sunburst with an aioli dip on a round tray.
Puff pastry twists
- 1 sheet thawed puff pastry dough
- For brushing: olive oil or beaten egg white
- Herbs or spices; citrus zest – see suggestions
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the thawed pastry sheet into a rectangle approximately 14-by-10-inches. Cut in half, horizontally. Working with one half of the dough, brush lightly with olive oil, if desired, or a watered-down beaten egg white.
Sprinkle dough with one or more of these ingredients: Parmesan cheese, grated Cheddar cheese, garlic powder, crushed rosemary or oregano and lemon zest, cumin, chili powder and orange zest, sea salt and coarse black pepper, or any other herb combination you like.
Top with second half of dough. Roll lightly with rolling pin to seal layers. Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut dough into 1/2-inch strips. Twist the strips and place on parchment paper-lined sheet, 2 inches apart. (Press ends of strips to sheet to maintain the twist.) Bake for 10 minutes or until golden and puffed.
Makes about 28 twists.
Sweet variations: Use cinnamon-sugar or apple pie spice, and add orange or lemon zest. You also can melt orange marmelade or another fruit jam, or dark chocolate chips and brush onto the dough; top with second dough and complete as described above.