Ask any ordinary home baker what their biggest fear is and you’ll probably hear puff pastry most often. In fact, most Chefs don’t make puff pastry from scratch, as good frozen version is readily available anyway. After succeeding in shortcrust pastry, I’ve been promising myself to tackle puff pastry at home for the longest time. Besides being extremely time consuming, it’s also laborious and requires delicate skills.
When I came across this week’s Bake Along theme (turnovers) on Lena’s blog, I know that it’s time for me to finally overcome my fear.
A turnover is basically a baked filled pastry, made by placing the filling on the dough and folding the dough over to seal. The filling can be savoury and sweet (apple being the most traditional and popular), and the pastry can be either shortcrust or puff, even kneaded yeast dough.
There’s no prize guessing what kind of turnovers I’d make (savoury of course), although Frank did vote for a classic apple turnover (which I’ll make with leftover pastry later). But since there are a few apple turnovers already posted by fellow Bake-along participants, I decided to make a vegetarian version. Spinach and Feta is one of my favourite combination for pastry (Spanakopita, anyone?), I know this would be fabulous, if the pastry turned out ok.
I started making the pastry yesterday afternoon and soon realised that I would not be able to even get it ready for dinner. The process was pretty frustrating with our climate. I couldn’t work on the dough long enough before the butter started to melt and leak (that happened almost every time I fold until the last one). And to be honest that was quite discouraging, but I thought I’d persevere anyway. One tip though, if that happen, immediately coat the butter with plenty of flour and return it to the fridge for at least 20 minutes then continue to work on it. So you can imagine the resting time for the dough was dramatically increased!
The puff pastry recipe came from Zoe, so do head over there for detailed instructions (how do you take photos with hands full of butter and flour?).
This is half the recipe, feel free to double up for 2 pounds worth.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup Chilled water
1 1/2 stick Butter, chilled (I’ve used KerryGold Irish Butter, if you are using unsalted butter, then add 1 teaspoon salt for the dough) that is around 170g by the way. Cut into 4 equal blocks.
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
For the dough: Mix flour, sugar, salt in a big bowl and whisk to combined. Add lemon juice, follow by 1/2 cup water and knead the dough until it just come together (no flour bits remain). Turn dough onto sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into square. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hr.
For the butter square: Lay butter blocks side by side on sheet of parchment paper. Sprinkle flour over butter and cover with second sheet of parchment. Gently pound butter with rolling pin until butter is softened and flour is fully incorporated, then roll it into 4-inch square. Wrap butter square in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hr.
Roll chilled dough into 6-inch square on lightly floured counter. Place chilled butter square diagonally in center of dough. Fold corners of dough up over butter square so that corners meet in middle and pinch dough seams to seal. Make sure the sides are properly sealed.
Using rolling pin, gently tap dough, starting from center and working outward, until square becomes larger and butter begins to soften. Gently roll dough into 8-inch square (about 1cm thick, and thinner in the final stage), dusting with extra flour as needed to prevent sticking. Fold dough into thirds like business letter, then fold rectangle in thirds to form square. Wrap dough in plastic and let rest in refrigerator for 2 hrs.
Repeat the rolling and folding step twice and let dough rest in refrigerator for 2 more hrs before using. If not using immediately, place in freezer until ready to use. Remember to allow thawing time.
So this afternoon when I thawed my puff pastry and took a close inspection, this is what I see:
Even though the surface wasn’t smooth, I think this would work!
Happy with the puff pastry, I moved on to make my filling.
Spinach and Feta Turnovers
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup chopped Spinach (I’ve used Frozen Chopped Spinach)
1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 egg, separated
80g crumbled feta
Puff Pastry as above*
*With extra pastry, neatly stacked them and re-roll into sheet, do not bunch them up or you will lose the layers.
The turnovers can be made ahead of time and frozen until needed.
Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until just softened. Add the spinach, dried oregano, nutmeg, and cook for about 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Season lightly with salt and pepper and stir in the lemon juice and half the egg white. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and allow to cool. Divide the mixture into 4 portions.
Preheat oven to 200C, line a baking tray with baking paper.
Cut the puff pastry into 5inch squares (you should get at least 4), place the filling in the centre of the pastry, carefully distrubuted it in the shape of triangle. Fold the puff pastry over and press down on the edges with a fork to seal.
Transfer the turnovers to the baking tray and brush with egg yolk. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I’m sure you are all curious to see the inside too?
Just check out the beautiful flaky pastry. If I make this next time I’ll make sure to make the mixture drier as you can see the moisture have seeped through the pastry a little. No matter, they tasted amazing! I think if the butter hadn’t leaked (I lost about 10-20g in the process I think) this would be even more buttery. Another achievement unlocked, anyhow.
So what’s your biggest fear in the kitchen?