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Monday, June 1, 2009


After using the puff paste bought from Carrefour in Tienmu a couple of times, I concluded the product simply isn't good enough. The puff paste is not made with butter and doesn't even rise much. Pepperidge Farm in the U.S. makes a puff paste with shortening as well, but at least it rises quite high.

Since I cannot find ready-made butter puff paste to buy in Taipei, I decided to make my own. I have never made puff paste before because when I was in New York I could just buy Dufour's product in the gourmet supermarkets. I researched the recipes for puff paste in Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques and Gordon Ramsay's Just Desserts. Given this is my first time, instead of feuilletage classique, I choose to make feuilletage rapide, or quick puff paste.

The ingredients of puff paste is pretty simple: a pound of butter, a pound of flour, a cup of cold water, and a teaspoon of salt. The quick puff paste does not require the making of a détrempe to wrap a block of butter. Instead, the butter is simply diced into little cubes and mixed into the flour and salt. Water is then added to bind everything into a rough dough that is firm but not sticky.

The dough is turned onto a floured surface and rolled into a rectangle of roughly 3/8-inch thick. The two short ends of the rectangle are folded to meet in the center and then the dough is folded in half. This completes one double turn and produces four layers of dough. The dough is turned 90 degrees, rolled out, and folded again. This process is repeated one more time for a total of three times.

The three double turns of the quick version is easier than the six simple folds of the classic version. The dough of the quick version is not as uniform or as flaky as the classic version, but it is usually sufficient for fruit tarts.

To test my puff paste, I used Dorie Greenspan's Parisian Apple Tartlet recipe. This little treat is quite easy to make: cut half an apple into 4 pieces, place on a 4-inch round puff paste, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, dart with a little butter, and bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.

The result is quite good and the puff paste is far superior than the non-butter version being sold at Carrefour; mine tastes better and even puffs higher. While I still have plenty of room for improvement, I am already quite happy.

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