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Puff Pastry- is this my first actual recipe posted here? November 6, 2015

Posted by michaelnjohns in recipe.
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OK maybe its not the first recipe, but it’s the first one I wouldn’t tinker with if I do it again.

I made an enormous batch of Pastelitos de Guayaba for my son last night.  He’s doing a presentation on Cuba for school and wanted to offer some kind of food from Cuba and my wife suggested guava puff pastry.  I’ve never made that before so I made a trial batch and then after learning some things from experience and from asking my mom, I did the final product.  I made two batches the second time around.  It turned out beautifully and filled two full sized cookie sheets.

The trial batch wasn’t neat.  The oven was not hot enough and the pastry not cold enough, I learned from my mom.  There were a wide range of recipes available, with temperatures ranging from 350 to 400 F.  So in making the first tray at 350 F, it didn’t puff right, the butter was melted everywhere, not properly trapped and distributed inside the pastry.  I handled that, and then turned up the oven to 400 F to finish the baking process and it puffed OK.  In the end it wasn’t terrible, but the second two trays made me very happy.

The recipe for one tray is:

5C Bread Flour
2T Salt
2C Water
1 Lb Unsalted Butter

1 package of guava paste – the other recipes said guava jelly could be used, but it’s not firm enough to hold up under baking.  14 oz was enough.

Simple syrup:  3/4C water, 1/2C Sugar, boiled for about a minute while stirring until the sugar dissolved and cooled

Egg Wash: one egg, 1T or less of water, stirred thoroughly with a fork.  I beat mine like I would a scrambled egg.

For the pastry:

Mix bread flour and salt.  Add water and stir.  The recipes I read called for a mixer with a dough hook but I only have meat hooks (my hands) and a well-used wooden spoon.  The dough is done when it forms a nice ball.  I kneaded it just enough to get all the flour mixed in.

Flatten the butter as best you can, to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness, and make an envelope of dough around the butter.  Roll this out to 1/2″ and fold into thirds.  Chill 10 minutes.  Recipes I read said to repeat two times.  I ended up folding mine four times, chilling in between each folding.  I used extra bread flour to allow the dough to continue to be workable.  I also used a marble rolling pin because it’s colder, to keep the butter from softening too much.  Each time you fold, you should get a better rectangle.  I improved with practice

On the last roll-out, after I chilled the dough I rolled it thinner, maybe 1/4″, to make two sheets of pastry, each the size of my cookie sheet.  I divided the now-enormous sheet of rolled out dough and sliced it with a pizza cutter to make my two sheets.

I sliced the guava paste pretty thinly and covered the first sheet evenly with the pieces.  I cut the 14 oz block into quarters and then each quarter into 12 slices.  I used a paintbrush with water on the exposed pastry, and placed the other sheet of pastry on top.  And chilled the whole thing about 20 minutes.  Some recipes add cream cheese, I did not but that would be awesome.  You could also put a pinhole over each piece of guava paste.  I didn’t and it was fine.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees while the pastries are chilling.  When the oven is hot and the pastry is very cold, brush with the egg wash enough to coat, and bake 25 minutes.  At 25 minutes, pull the pastry carefully out of the oven and brush with the sugar syrup, enough to coat.  Don’t worry about the puff, it’s supposed to do that.  I have a lot of syrup left over, and I had some egg left over after making both trays.  Bake an additional 5 minutes to evaporate the water and leave behind the sugar coating, which makes a glaze and adds an additional sweet crispness.  I waited overnight, some recommend waiting at least 15 minutes for cooling, to slice the pastry.  My son needed 100 servings, and I got 96, slicing the two trays into rows of six by eight seemed practical.  The last four servings came from the first batch, which turned out OK, just not as pretty and probably not as buttery and flaky.  I used a meat cleaver so to not scratch my cookie trays.  Just trust me on that, a knife scratches, a cleaver (probably) won’t, or won’t scratch as badly.  The recipes I read that had cream cheese showed making individual pockets, with a pinhole on top of each one to vent, but I didn’t do that.  I just cut it where it needed cutting after baking the whole thing, and it was fine.  If I had discrete bundled cream cheese topped with guava, I might have done the pocket technique to keep the pockets from separating too much.

MMMMM, sweet success.  I normally don’t exactly follow instructions on a lot of recipes, throwing whatever I need into them until it looks right, but this, I’d do exactly the same every time.  Mom says a recipe is a “good place to start.”  And then she tinkers with whatever.  But the cold pastry dough, the hot oven, all worked perfectly, and the pastry puffed and glazed beautifully.  I might not use a whole recipe just for family of 4, but for 48 people this amount was just right. Next time, maybe just a half-batch…