Prep Time: 30 minutes
Chilling time, divided: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes
· 4 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour
· 2 teaspoons salt
· 7 tablespoons (100 g) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
· 1 1/4 c cold water
· 14 oz. (3 1/2 sticks, or 400 grams) butter, room temperature
· 1/2 cup (60 g) flour
· additional flour as necessary
Make the Dough
Measure four cups of flour and two teaspoons salt into a large bowl, stirring to mix. Add the cold butter pieces, blending them into the flour with your fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture looks like coarse meal.
Now add the cold water. Stir briskly with a fork or your fingers until a rough dough forms and pulls from the side of the bowl. (If necessary, you can add more cold water, one tablespoon at a time, to achieve this.)
Knead the dough on a floured surface two or three minutes until smooth, adding flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Shape the Butter
While the dough is chilling, mix the softened butter with the flour. Transfer it to large piece of plastic wrap and cover the butter with a second piece of plastic wrap. With your hands (or a rolling pin or spatula), flatten and shape the butter into a rough 8" or 9" square. Set the butter in the fridge to firm up.
Enclose the Butter in the Dough
After the dough has chilled for 30 minutes, remove it and the butter from the fridge. The butter should now be firm but pliable.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into an 11" or 12" square. (There's no need to measure; just be sure that it's a little larger than your square of butter.) Set the chilled butter so that it sits diamond-shaped in the center of the square-shaped dough.
Fold the corners of the dough inward to enclose the butter completely. Press the edges of the dough together to join them.
First Rolling and Folding of the Dough
The dough with butter now needs to be rolled out and folded six times. Depending on how warm your kitchen is, you'll need to return the dough to the fridge to chill and rest between each folding (or "turn"), or after every two turns. This is to avoid the butter becoming so soft that it runs or weeps out of the dough while you work with it.
Lightly flour your surface. With the side of a rolling pin, firmly hit or tap the dough with the side of your rolling pin to mold the dough (and enclosed butter) into a rectangle. Once the rectangle has taken shape and butter has softened a bit, you can switch to rolling out the dough to shape it into an elongated rectangle about 1/4" thick. Turn the dough several times while you work and dust your work surface with more flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking.
Straighten the edges of your rectangle by molding them with your hands, the side of a rolling pin, or with a dough scraper. Then, fold the rectangle into thirds as you would for a letter - short sides inward, evenly overlapping in the center, to form three visible layers. (Brush off any excess flour as you fold and take care to align the edges neatly.) This completes the first folding.
If the butter has not started to run, proceed to the second folding. Otherwise, wrap the dough in plastic and chill in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes.
Second Rolling and Folding of the Dough
Reposition the dough a quarter turn and roll it out into another elongated rectangle about 1/4" thick. Again, turn the dough several times and flour your surface as needed. Mold the edges of the rectangle into straight sides and fold the rectangle into thirds, brushing off excess flour and aligning the edges. This completes the second folding.
Wrap the dough in plastic and chill the dough for 20 to 30 minutes.
Roll Out and Fold Four More Times
Repeat the rolling-out-and-folding four more times, for a total of six times, chilling the dough as necessary between every turn, or between every two turns. (Note: Do not complete more than two turns at a time without resting and chilling the dough.)
When all six turns have been completed, wrap the dough and chill it for another hour or two before before using. It will keep in the fridge for two days, or you can divide it into portions for freezing.
Frozen puff pastry dough, well wrapped, will keep for one year. Thaw it at room temperature for 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge.
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