Making rough puff may seem like a gargantuan task but in practice it’s simpler than the many steps would indicate, and can be easily done while other things are going on.
Rough puff is a laminated dough from the same pastry “family” as full puff, Danish pastry and croissants. Laminated doughs have layers created by the rolling and folding process; most such doughs have six folds or “turns”. The process is best completed in one session so the butter remains pliable but the pastry can easily be made a day ahead and freezes perfectly. The key here is to not over-mix the dough in the Thermomix. Lumps of butter should still be clearly visible in the dough when you start the rolling process.
Before you start, cut the butter into pieces about the size of a strawberry or large grape, and chill it in the freezer without allowing it to freeze solid.
- Place the egg yolk and water into the Thermomix bowl. Mix together 5 seconds/speed 5.
- Weigh the flour into the Thermomix bowl.
- Add the pieces of butter on top of the flour.
- Knead 30 seconds, the mixture should come together but by no means be mixed to a smooth dough. It will be a little sticky and will look very rough at this stage.
- Lightly flour a work surface and tip out the dough.
- There shouldn’t be any dry flour evident, so bring the mixture together with your hands if need be by pressing it rather than kneading.
- Press or roll out the dough to a rectangle about 42 centimetres x 18 centimetres, basically 2 1/2 times longer than it is wide. Do this either by working away from you or side on, whichever feels more comfortable.
- Fold the pastry into 3. Fold one side in and then the other side on top, there will still be butter chunks so it may be necessary to use a lifter to help. Ideally the pastry will line up and have reasonably square ends, a little like a book. If not, ease it out a little with your fingers to square it up because evenness now makes for more even rising when the pastry is baked.
- Turn the pastry 90 degrees—turn the pastry so the folded edge is facing you, then be consistent throughout the process.
- Press the dough with a rolling pin a few times to make it a little thinner and hence more co-operative. Then, with short rolls beginning in the middle of the block of dough, roll it out once again to an even 42-centimetre x 18-centimetre rectangle.
- Once again, fold the dough into three, exactly as before. Press it out with the rolling pin and make two finger marks to indicate the dough has been folded, not rolled, twice. Rest it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so, just enough time for a cup of tea.
- Roll the dough out again to the same sized rectangle and repeat the folding process twice more. The dough will be much more even-textured by now and will have a more buttery colour. Press four finger marks into the dough to indicate four folds and again rest in the fridge.
- Repeat the rolling and folding once more and press six finger marks into the dough. By the time the pastry has had its sixth and final fold it will be a lovely yellow colour and will be smooth and pliable.
- Rest again in the fridge for at least one hour, ideally for several hours, before using.
The Pastry Sequence
- Make dough: it will look like a messy lump. Tip out on to the bench.
- Form the dough into a rectangle, 2 1/2 times as long as it is wide. It will have lumps of butter clearly visible and will look rough.
- Fold the rectangle into 3. Rotate it 90 degrees. Roll out then fold in 3 again. Make 2 finger marks in the dough—this means it has had 2 “turns”. Rest dough in fridge.
- Roll out the dough, fold it in 3 (do this twice). This time make 4 finger marks, which equals 4 turns. Rest in fridge. The dough will be more even textured and more buttery coloured.
- Repeat step 4 but this time make 6 finger marks, equalling 6 turns. The dough will be smooth-textured and an even buttery colour all the way through.
- Process finished! Your pastry is ready to rest in the fridge for future baking.
Tips for Handling & Baking
- All pastry needs plenty of rest. Gluten development is inevitable in pastry-making, and resting allows the gluten to relax, which means less shrinkage and even baking.
- While many aspects of laminated doughs are important, one is crucial; the butter and the dough must be the same consistency so they roll out together. If one is firmer than the other the layers won’t develop. After the pastry has rested in the fridge, pay attention to how it is rolling. If it resists you or has cracks along the edges, let it sit at room temperature until it is co-operative.
- Counting the rolls and folds can be tricky; count when you fold, not when you roll, be sure to make the finger marks.
- Laminated pastry is rolled out thicker than sweet pastry; 1/2 centimetre is usual.
- Always bake rough puff in a hot oven until it is well browned, otherwise it will be heavy and greasy; well baked pastry should be light and dry.
- After all that work, never waste the offcuts; stack them on top of each other, then roll out once more.