I feel confident baking many things. Cookies are something I've baked all my life. My Grandma Ashley's biscuit recipe is brilliant. Quick breads are a snap. I've made a million yeast rolls. I've loved making delicious homemade pie crust. I've even dared to make empanadas and clafoutis and kolaches.
I boldly call myself a baker.
Pastry? Do I make pastry? Well, yes, pies and little tarts. I've made cinnamon rolls and yeast rolls.
What about puff pastry? Choux pastry?
Here I deflate. No. I haven't ever tried making puff pastry or choux pastry. They looked a bit, well, daunting.
Then Pastry for Beginners arrived. I read over the recipe for puff pastry.
I think I can.
Puff Pastry Master Recipe
(Note: The recipe says that prep time is 45 minutes, with another 1 hour and 30 minutes for chilling time. Maybe I will eventually get the time down to that, but I worked on my dough for more than four hours.)
I begin by slicing a stick of butter lengthwise into thirds.
I lay the strips of butter on a piece of parchment paper about the length of a baking sheet, making a 4-by-5 rectangle. I gently press the butter together. The butter goes into the freezer to chill while I prepare the dough.
In a large bowl, I whisk 1 1/2 cups flour with 1/4 teaspoon salt. I make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add 2 tablespoons of melted butter and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. I use my hands to slowly fold the flour into the center. Then I add 1/2 cup ice-cold water and continue to mix and knead until a smooth dough forms.
I dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with flour, and place the dough ball on the floured counter, working it back and forth from the center, rolling it into an 8-by-10-inch rectangle. I then place the butter layer on top of the dough rectangle so that the corners of the butter point to the edges of the dough.
I fold the corners of the dough over the butter like an envelope. Then I cover it with plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
I'm going to use it to make Strawberries and Cream Danish.
I start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F. I line the baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it with nonstick spray.
To make the filling, I blend cream cheese and sugar in a bowl. Then I add one large egg yolk, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. I mix these together, careful not to whip the mixture.
I take the dough out of the refrigerator and unfold the sheet. I cut it into a 10-by-10-inch square. I cut the sheet evenly into 9 squares and place the squares on the baking sheet. I cut an inner square on the inside of each square by lightly pressing a knife about 1/2 inch from the edge.
I place 1 heaping teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture into the center of each square.
I put half of a strawberry in the center of the cream cheese mixture, cut-side down. I place the baking sheet in the refrigerator for fifteen minutes.
I make an egg wash by whisking 1 large egg with 1 teaspoon of water. I remove the Danish from the refrigerator. I brush the edges of each pastry with the egg wash.
I'm pretty happy with the Strawberries and Cream Danish. I am very happy with the layers.
For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.
Saturday Snapshot is hosted by A Web of Stories. To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.
Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.