History and Variants of Puff Pastry
A tender, flaky pastry which is made up of many layers of fat is known as a Puff pastry. It is like a pie crust which tends to rise even without the presence of any fermenting agent. It rises mainly because of the evaporation of water and butter into steam. It remains in solid form at 20 degree Celsius and starts to melt if the temperature rises. The primary ingredients in a puff pastry are flour, salt, butter and water. The way the puff reacts as it rises occurs because of the manner in which these components are mixed.
How the puff pastry is prepared
The dough used for making this pastry is mixed with cold butter and flour. Once it all comes together, the toil starts. The dough has to be coiled around a fat block of butter. The mixture then has to be folded, rolled and turned. After a few minutes, butter is distributed throughout the concoction which leads to the creation of hundreds of flat sheets of dough set-apart only by a thin layer of butter.
The layer of butter and water causes the dough to rise. As soon as the pastry gets hot, the butter starts to melt and starts boiling. The steam which forms eventually lifts the thin layers of dough. Meanwhile, the heat cooks the flour making it hard around the small air pockets which creates the puff. The puff pastry grows 5 to 7 times from its initial height. Although it is very delicious, it is not very popular among people as it takes a lot of time to prepare. The temperature also has to be maintained carefully otherwise it may start melting. The total of the layers in a puff pastry can be calculated by using the formula I= (f+1) raised to power n, where I is the count of the layers, f is the number of folds and n is how many times the dough is folded.
Origin of Puff Pastry
No one knows from where exactly the puff pastry originated, but some expert suggest that it came from the middle east and is a relative of a Central Asian dish called Phyllo. Others say it came from France when it was accidentally introduced by the French cook Claude Gelee. Puff pastry in France though, is also known by the name of Pâté feuilletée, and is put to use for making other sweet dishes. These dishes are variants of puff pastry some of which include Napoleons, croissants, turnovers.