Making puff pastry

I truly love flaky, buttery pastry wrapped around something delicious.  However, I have an allergy to any kind of hydrogenated vegetable oil like shortening or margarine.  That eliminates most store-bought desserts. As it happens I’m not adverse to

For years I trusted Pepperidge Farms puff pastry sheets.  Their ingredients are pretty straight forward.  Then came a holiday season when I went to the store too late both of my local grocery stores were out.  What I did have on hand was plenty of butter and plenty of flour.
Lightbulb!

Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups cake flour
1-1/4 cups  ice water
1 pound or 4 sticks of unsalted butter (I’m told European Butter works best.)

Optional: 1/2 teaspoon of table salt or sugar.  I prefer to go without.

Making the dough is relatively easy if you have a food processor.  With an S blade attachment, blend the flours together and slowly pour in the ice water.  Add in either salt or sugar depending on your personal preference.  Let the processor blend until a ball forms.  Wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before using.

  1. When you feel ready to make the pastry sheet, unwrap 4 sticks of butter and press together to form a block.  I prefer to work with room temperature butter wrapped in plastic wrap to keep its shape.
  2. Roll the dough into a square shape with the middle part a bit thicker than the edges.  Unwrap butter and place in the middle.  Fold the edges of the dough over the butter so no butter is showing. 
  3. Roll the butter pouch into a rectangular shape.  Fold over and roll again.  
  4. At this point, I’ll put the dough back in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to firm up the butter a bit.  Then roll and fold over again twice more.
  5. Divide the dough, wrap it separately.  Keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze to keep longer.

Now you have pastry dough and the possibilities are endless!

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Pumpkin pie this Fall

When a good friend asked me to bake a few desserts for her bridal shower, I had in mind something pretty but also delicious.  Luckily, she made it easy by selecting gold and white as her colors.  Pumpkin pie, apple rose pastries, and homemade marshmallows immediately jumped into my mind.  (Had she selected silver and white, I would have torn my hair out one strand at a time.)

That’s what I ended up making.  I left the homemade whipped cream on the side, but visually it would have been better had I spooned a dollop on each pie.
Let’s talk about pumpkin pie.

I did a taste test a few years ago. I tried evaporated milk, coconut milk, and heavy cream.  Hands down, the heavy cream pie tasted far better to me.

Ingredients:

2 cups of pumpkin pulp purée from a sugar pumpkin*

1 1/2 cup heavy cream


1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar.


1/3 cup white sugar


2 eggs plus the yolk of a third egg


2 teaspoons of cinnamon


1 teaspoon ground ginger


1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon


1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest


1 good crust (I’ll post a pie crust recipe soon)

* To make pumpkin purée from a sugar pumpkin: start with a small-medium sugar pumpkin, cut out the stem and scrape out the insides, discard (save the seeds, of course). Cut the pumpkin in half and lay cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet lined with Silpat or aluminum foil. Bake at 350°F until fork tender, about an hour to an hour and a half. Remove from oven, let cool, scoop out the pulp. I’ll immersion blend the pulp to make it as smooth as possible.If you plan to make whipped cream, then put a large stainless steel bowl, and whisk or whisk attachments in the freezer. Trust me, you want to do that.

Preheat oven to 425°F.2 Mix sugars, salt, and spices, and lemon zest in a large bowl. 

Beat the eggs and add to the bowl. Stir in the pumpkin purée. Stir in cream. Whisk all together until well incorporated.  

Pour into pie shell and bake at 425°F for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes reduce the temperature to 350°F. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  If you’re making mini pies, then 30 minutes at 350 degrees would work.  Cool on a cooling rack for 2 hours.

Now pour 1 cup of heavy cream in the stainless steel bowl left in the freezer. Whip it with 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Don’t overbeat. Serve on the pie.

    Enjoy!