Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gluten Free Blitz Puff Pastry


This post is a little out of the normal for me. I usually like to show the pretty end product, rather than the process of getting to that end product. But today I'm going back to my teaching roots on a subject I dearly love: laminated dough.

Puff Pastry, Croissant Dough, Danish Dough... these are the three great categories of laminated doughs. They begin with two components: dough & fat (European-style butter is best, in my opinion).  The dough is wrapped around the butter & the lamination process begins.  Think about how paper is laminated: the paper is sandwiched between two layers of plastic. Laminated dough is similar, only butter & dough are used instead of paper & plastic.

Once the butter is encased in the dough, the whole thing is rolled out & folded many times until there are hundreds or thousands of alternating layers of dough & butter...and dough and butter...and dough and butter, etc.  Those layers are what causes the product to puff in the oven.

Regular laminated doughs, made with wheat flour, are a bit challenging & rather time consuming. They're a topic that I really have not been willing to attempt to make gluten free, partially because of the time they take to make.  But lately, I've been working on a couple of batches of regular wheat, gluten-filled croissant dough (for an upcoming baby shower I'm helping to host), and I was inspired to finally attempt a gluten free laminated dough.

For my first foray into gluten free laminated dough, I cheated a little bit... Instead of attempting a classical puff pastry, I went with a "blitz" version instead, which may also be known as "fast" or "rough."

Instead of making the two distinct components of dough & butter, you simply start with a dough full of large butter pieces.  That dough is rolled out & folded a series of times, similar to puff pastry. Blitz puff also will not rise quite as much as classical puff pastry, but it still has more rise than a regular pastry crust.

Baking gluten free requires me to really think about the classical baking processes & make some adjustments.  For instance, gluten free doughs are often more crumbly, partially because they do not have the strength of gluten to help hold them together & aid in elasticity.  So, I needed to anticipate & expect some cracking.  Also, because gluten free doughs are not as elastic, they cannot be rolled out under as cold conditions as I would roll out a regular laminated dough.  Usually, I store my dough in the freezer between folds, but for the gluten free dough, I used the refrigerator.

Here's how I made my version of Gluten Free Blitz Puff Pastry.  In the next post, I'll show a recipe for how to use the finished dough.  

One initial note, make sure your kitchen is not hot during this whole process. Butter melts at 80˚ F, so your kitchen needs to be below 80˚ F for the dough to be successful.  Otherwise, the butter might melt (or fuze with the layers) and all your hard work is for nothing!

Gluten Free Blitz Puff Pastry Process: 

Start by taking two sticks of butter (8 oz) and cutting them into small cubes.  I started by cutting each stick into 4 pieces, length wise, then chopping the four pieces into small squares.  Break up the chopped butter into individual pieces & place them onto a plastic-wrap lined plate.  Set the plate into the freezer while you prepare the rest of your ingredients and equipment.  


While the butter is chilling,  Prepare the rest of the ingredients and equipment. Scale into the metal bowl of a stand mixer: 8 oz of gluten free flour  (Jeanne's AP Gluten Free Mix, or another mix that contains xanthan gum), 1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon of fine grain sea salt. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment & turn on the mixer to the "stir" function for approximately 10 seconds to just combine the ingredients.  Scale  5 oz of water into a liquid measuring cup & set it into the fridge to stay cold.  Finally, line a baking sheet with parchment paper & setting it off to the side.

Once the butter had been freezing for approximately 15 minutes, remove the butter from the freezer. With the mixer running on stir, begin dropping the cubes of cold butter into the dry ingredients. Paddle the butter with the dry ingredients for a total of 60 seconds, just to begin the incorporation of the butter into the flour mixture.

Next, remove the measured water from the refrigerator, turned the machine back on to stir, & gradually drizzled in the water.  Continue mixing on stir for approximately 60 seconds, or until the dough just begins to form, but very large butter pieces were still visible.


Dump the prepared dough onto the parchment-lined baking sheet.


Pat the dough into a rectangular shape.


Cover the dough  with some plastic wrap & placed into the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

After the 30 minute chill, remove the dough from the refrigerator & place onto a tapioca-floured surface.  Dust the top of the dough & the rolling pin with additional tapioca flour.


Gently roll the dough out, keeping the rectangular shape, until the dough is approximately 11"x13" and about 1 cm thick. The dough may crack, especially around the edges.  Make sure the top of the dough & counter stay well floured. 


Move the dough around periodically to ensure that the dough is not sticking at all!  Especially take note to flour any large spots of butter.  


Once the dough has reached the size of 11"x13", use a dry pastry brush to brush off any excess flour from the top of the dough.  Use a second brush to lightly brush the top of the dough with a little water--not enough water to form puddles or drown the dough, but just enough to act as glue during the folding process.


Visualize dividing the dough into three pieces, like you would a piece of paper for a letter.  Fold the bottom up & press lightly to adhere.


On the flap that was just folded up, brush off any additional flour, then fold the top down over. 


Turn the dough 90˚ so that the fold line is on the left & the open ends (not folded ends) are at the top & bottom. Re-flour the counter slightly, if the dough is sticking.  Use the rolling pin to tap down the dough to ensure the fold is secure.


Place the dough back onto the parchment lined sheet pan. Cover the dough with plastic wrap & chill again for 30 minutes.  Make a notation on the parchment that the first fold is complete (so that you don't forget how many folds have been done).


After the dough has had a 30 minute "nap," remove the dough from the refrigerator & place it back onto the floured counter.  Make sure that the fold is to the left and that the open ends are at the top and bottom.  Gently roll out the dough, rolling only in the direction of the open ends.  Do NOT roll across the fold. The dough will be much longer and skinnier this time, but that is ok.


Also, the edges may continue to crack (regular gluten dough does not do this), but do not be alarmed! Roll the dough until it is approximately 1/4" to 1/8" thick (don't worry about the length of the dough).   Dust off the flour & lightly brush with water.  Fold into thirds again.


Turn the dough 90˚ again & press lightly with the rolling pin to adhere.


Place the dough back onto the parchment lined baking pan, cover again with plastic & chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.  Make a notation that the second fold is complete.

After 30 minutes, repeat the whole process a third time, making sure to roll only with the open ends. When the third fold is completed, chill the dough in the refrigerator for an additional 30 minutes.

At this point, the folds are all done & the dough is ready to be rolled out to it's final thickness, which does depend on how you plan to use the dough.  I rolled mine out to approximately 12"x15" and a thickness of 4mm.  I did have one section that cracked a little, but I just used some water to help patch it back together.


I cut mine into two pieces (using a pastry wheel/pizza cutter) & stacked them on a flat sheet pan with parchment paper between the two pieces.  Wrap the sheet well & place into the freezer.  Be careful  with moving the finished puff to the sheet pan--it is rather fragile! (and you don't want to break all your hard work!)



Even if you plan to use the finished pastry very soon after it is finished, it still needs to freeze for at least 30 minutes (an hour would be even better) before use.

In the next post, I'll be showing some tarts made from this blitz puff pastry :)


Here's a more condensed recipe, but use the above pictures to reference, especially if you are not accustomed to laminating dough.  

Gluten Free Blitz Puff Pastry 

Equipment needed

  • A Timer 
  • Baking Sheet
  • Parchment Paper
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Pastry Brush (two, if possible)
  • Rolling Pin
  • Bench Cutter/Bench Scraper 
  • Ruler 
  • A small dish of water 
  • A small dish of tapioca flour for dusting 
  • Pastry Wheel or Pizza Cutter

Ingredients
8 oz Unsalted Butter, cold, cut into small cubes
8 oz Gluten Free Flour (I used Jeanne's GF AP Flour mix
1 Tbl Granulated Sugar
1 tsp Fine Grain Sea Salt
5 oz cold water {NOTE: if you live in a humid climate, you may only need 4 oz of water!}
additional tapioca flour for dusting
additional water for brushing 

  1. Cut each stick of butter into small cubes. Place the small cubes onto a plastic-wrap-lined plate & freeze for 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.  
  2. Into the bowl a of a stand mixer, scale the flour, sugar & salt.  Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment & turn the machine on to "stir" for approximately 10 seconds to combine the dry ingredients. Scale the water into a liquid measuring cup & hold in the refrigerator until ready to use. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  3. Once the butter is cold, turn the mixer back on to "stir" & begin adding the butter cubes to the dry ingredients. Mix approximately 60 seconds, or until the butter is just beginning to be incorporated into the dry ingredients.  
  4. Remove the water from the refrigerator, and with the mixer running on "stir" begin drizzling the water in to the flour/butter mixture.  Mix approximately 60 additional seconds, or until the ingredients just begin to form a dough, but there are still very large butter pieces visible.  
  5. Dump the prepared dough onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat the dough into a rectangular shape. Cover the dough  with some plastic wrap & placed into the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.  
  6. After the 30 minute chill, remove the dough from the refrigerator & place onto a tapioca-floured surface.  Dust the top of the dough & the rolling pin with additional tapioca flour. 
  7. Gently roll the dough out, keeping the rectangular shape, until the dough is approximately 11"x13". The dough may crack, especially around the edges.  Make sure the top of the dough & counter stay well floured. Move the dough around periodically to ensure that the dough is not sticking at all!  Especially take note to flour any large spots of butter.  
  8. Once the dough has reached the size of 11"x13", use a dry pastry brush to brush off any excess flour from the top of the dough.  Use a second brush to lightly brush the top of the dough with a little water--not enough water to form puddles or drown the dough, but just enough to act as glue during the folding process.  
  9. Visualize dividing the dough into three pieces, like you would a piece of paper for a letter.  Fold the bottom up & press lightly to adhere.  On the flap that was just folded up, brush off any additional flour, then fold the top down over. 
  10. Turn the dough 90˚ so that the fold line is on the left & the open ends (not folded ends) are at the top & bottom. Re-flour the counter slightly, if the dough is sticking.  Use the rolling pin to tap down the dough to ensure the fold is secure.  
  11. Place the dough back onto the parchment lined sheet pan. Cover the dough with plastic wrap & chill again for 30 minutes.  Make a notation on the parchment that the first fold is complete (so that you don't forget how many folds have been done). 
  12. After the dough has had a 30 minute "nap," remove the dough from the refrigerator & place it back onto the floured counter.  Make sure that the fold is to the left and that the open ends are at the top and bottom.  Gently roll out the dough, rolling only in the direction of the open ends.  Do NOT roll across the fold. The dough will be much longer and skinnier this time, but that is ok.  Also, the edges may continue to crack (regular gluten dough does not do this), but do not be alarmed! Roll the dough until it is approximately 1/4" to 1/8" thick (don't worry about the length of the dough).   Brush the flour off & lightly brush with water & fold into thirds again.  
  13. Turn the dough 90˚ again & press lightly with the rolling pin to adhere.  Place the dough back onto the parchment lined baking pan, cover again with plastic & chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.  Make a notation that the second fold is complete.  
  14. After 30 minutes, repeat the whole process a third time, making sure to roll only with the open ends. When the third fold is completed, chill the dough in the refrigerator for an additional 30 minutes.  
  15. At this point, the folds are all done & the dough is ready to be rolled out to it's final thickness, which does depend on how you plan to use the dough.  I rolled mine out to approximately 12"x15" and a thickness of 4mm. I cut mine into two pieces (using a pastry wheel/pizza cutter) & stacked them on a flat sheet pan with parchment paper between the two pieces.  Wrap the sheet well & place into the freezer.  Be careful  with moving the finished puff to the sheet pan--it is rather fragile! 
  16. Even if you plan to use the finished pastry very soon after it is finished, it still needs to freeze for at least 30 minutes (an hour would be even better) before use.  
  17. The frozen dough will keep, well wrapped, for several months in the freezer. Allow to thaw slightly before use. 
  18. When ready to bake, bake at a 400 F oven (or higher) to ensure optimal puff.  


Inspired by "Art of Gluten Free Baking" & by my teaching materials from the Culinary Institute of Charleston

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