Easy Puff Pastry


Like puff pastry–except easy!

It’s easy because we’re going to use self-rising flour (or your favorite baking mix). The salt is already in the self-rising flour, along with baking powder, which gives a slightly different result than if you started with all-purpose flour. Flaky layers, with a bit of rise. The texture with self-rising flour will be a more biscuit-like puff pastry. What is puff pastry? We often buy this at the store in paper-thin sheets, made from paper-thin layers of dough rolled with butter. When it’s rolled out, all those paper-thin layers rise as the liquid in the water and butter evaporates. All that butter rolled between the layers makes it flaky and crispy.

If you can make biscuits, you can make puff pastry–and if you can make croissants, you’re a shoe-in because puff pastry is like a cross between croissant technique and biscuits. You can use this dough for the flakiest biscuits ever, or use it to make turnovers or all kinds of little appetizer-type treats wrapped with fillings, as a “cup” base with fillings (for tarts or mini tarts)–and so on! Because this is easy puff pastry, we’re not going to make paper thin layers (which dry out quickly and can be difficult to deal with) but layers that are more like 1/4 inch thick. Once you’re ready to cut out the dough to bake, you can make it as thick or thin as you like, depending on your end purpose for the dough.

Here’s how you do it. Double or triple as needed.

Easy Puff Pastry:

2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup water (approximately)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

Place self-rising flour in a medium mixing bowl. Add water gradually, stirring until you have a pliable dough that isn’t too dry and crumbly, but not too wet either. The amount of water you’ll need will vary depending on the humidity in your kitchen, so add it slowly, stirring gently with a spoon. If you need a little less than a cup, or a little more than a cup, that’s okay, just do it slow. Once you have a pliable dough, lay it out on a floured surface and roll out into a rectangle. Don’t worry about the size or being a perfect rectangle–just roll it about 1/4 inch thick and you’ll be fine.

Spread the butter evenly as possible over the whole top surface of the dough. You can do this a few different ways–freeze the butter and grate it over the dough, or soften it by pounding it (what a hassle) or just warm the butter a bit to make it soft enough to spread easily. This last one is my preference. As with croissant dough when doing this same technique, cold butter is the standard, but you’re going to chill this dough here in a minute and I find that 1) it makes no difference to the end result if you’ve taken the easy path here, and 2) it’s EASIER. And we’re making easy puff pastry, so. Now you’re going to do the letter fold and roll it out again and again. And again.

The letter fold means folding in thirds. Fold one third over toward the center. (Don’t be confused by the lack of butter on the surface in this photo. I forgot to take letter-folding pictures until later.)

Then fold another third over toward the center, over top the first.

Letter fold!

Put it in an envelope and mail it to me and I’ll give you a grade. Ha.

Roll out the dough again, flouring your surface and the surface of the dough as needed if it’s sticking. (Use all-purpose flour for your rolling flour, not self-rising.) Letter fold. Do it again. And again. Now you’ve rolled it out four times, counting the first time when you spread the butter. I think. If you lose count, it’s not that important! Just do it a bunch.

Now you want to chill the dough. I wrap it in a plastic bag and stash it in the fridge. You can make puff pastry ahead by getting to this step and leaving it in the fridge overnight. If you need it sooner, leave it in the fridge for at least an hour.

When you take the dough out of the fridge, now you’ve got cold butter in the layers. (You want cold butter because warm melty butter will run out of your puff pastry too fast when it gets in the oven.)

Roll out and letter fold three more times. Or four if you’re feeling ambitious. Place the dough back in the fridge for at least another 30 minutes before your final roll and cutting/shaping so you’re working with cold dough going into the oven. (Again, this is a point where you could stash it in the fridge overnight if you want.)

See all the layers in there?

That’s the magic–so many, many, many layers.

When you’re ready to bake, take the dough back out of the fridge and roll as thin or thick as you like, depending on what you’re making, and cut/shape as desired. Bake at 425-degrees–in the 5 to 10 minute range, again depending on what you’re making and the sizes you’ve cut out.

Here, I’ve cut the dough in triangles. These can be used to make the flaky, delicious little mini sandwiches.

These are cut out with a small biscuit cutter.

Have a perverse liking for canned biscuits because of the million flaky thin layers? These are like homemade canned biscuits.

This is a simple breakfast treat or appetizer–the dough is rolled a little more thinly and wrapped around ham.

Your options are limitless for shapes and fillings, savory appetizers or sweet treats!

Note: To make a more traditional puff pastry, use all-purpose flour instead of self-rising and add a 1 teaspoon salt per 2 cups flour; roll thinner layers.

Life, Love, and Life-Changing with Lessons


Spoiled brat.

Glory Bee, waiting to be milked. I tried to tell her the time changed and I’m really not late if it was yesterday. Right?

Several people have asked about Rodney. I don’t like to go into a ton of detail for the sake of his privacy, but I can give you an update, and thank you for asking! Some of you may remember that in June of last year he had a very bad vehicle accident while driving a work truck. He was in ICU for a week, and in total, was in the hospital for over a month. That incident, and subsequent recovery, explains a lot of my absence here. I was at the hospital every single day, and since he got out of the hospital, there have been a lot of doctor visits and therapy appointments, and so on. Needless to say, this was the most important thing in my life. Taking care of him, and helping him to recover. Almost nine months later, while his life will never be exactly the same as before the accident, he is certainly doing better. He’s walking, getting around, etc. He hasn’t been able to go back to work, but fortunately has been well taken care of by workers comp.

It was definitely a life-changing accident in a lot of ways, for both of us. It was hard for me to find time to squeeze in work, for a long time, much less anything else. Then just as things began settling down, the holidays and mass orders hit. I was working ’round the clock. As this early spring comes on, things are finally settling down all around. Etsy does keep busy all the time (thank goodness! visit my shop!), and I’ve been milking Glory Bee these days and starting to enjoy actual free time. I hadn’t had any free time in so long, I didn’t know what to do with it, but it seemed like a good time to rest. I decided to learn how to sit down and do nothing, at least on the weekends when I’m not baking and shipping.

I figured out how to use Netflix (I know, I’m so behind the times because I’ve hardly ever had time to watch TV for years) and forced myself to start binge watching just to keep my feet off the floor. I watched all the Grace & Frankie seasons then Rodney and I discovered Longmire and watched every season of that. I told Morgan I’d watched an entire series in three weeks and she said, “Three weeks to finish a series is weak sauce, mom. You gotta finish it in under week if you want to keep up with the millenials.” She was not impressed! That was a lot of TV for me, though. Then we watched all of Hell on Wheels in two weeks. Though I think I still can’t keep up with millennial-style binge watching, I’m doing better at doing nothing. By the way, I highly recommend all three of those shows–very binge-worthy–and if you have any to recommend, let me know!

Eventually, though, I decided it was time to get off the couch. And back to the computer. Find out if I still knew how to write. A few other quick updates—Morgan will graduate this spring with degrees in English and History, and has been accepted into the direct-admit PhD program (in History) at WVU. (She is such a smartypants!) Ross is still going to WVU, too, and Weston gets out of the Army in two months, yay!!! I’m not sure where he’s going, but he will also be going back to college. Thank you for asking about them, also!

There are other changes I’ll be writing about soon. Another reason for my increasing absence here has been my Too Many Jobs problem. Several years ago I added workshops in addition to writing. Then I added my Etsy shop job. How many jobs can one person do (and do well)? Not three, I’m pretty sure. Last summer and fall, in particular, it became very difficult to keep up. Something had to go. With orders pouring in, workshops already scheduled, and a crucial need for my time and attention at home with Rodney, writing was what had to go. While things have settled down in that situation as his recovery has gone on, we made a number of decisions about our life together and our future. A life-altering event tends to help you re-evaluate everything, you know? While I may offer workshops again, either private workshops or regular scheduled ones, for now, I’ve decided to set workshops aside to focus on my Etsy shop and get back to writing. I need to cut down the number of jobs I’m trying to work in order to give my best to the jobs I choose to continue. Through all this, and nearly losing someone I love, I also was reminded that it’s important to leave yourself some time in your life to just enjoy it. Life can change in an instant. Take time to binge watch with the one you love.

Meanwhile, I’d really like to be a writer again!

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