This past weekend, I made homemade puff pastry dough for the first time. I had hoped to post it this week, but I am a bit of a perfectionist and it didn’t meet my standards so I’m going to practice a bit more before I share it. But I learned a few things that I want to pass on.
Of course, if you’re just here for the food, feel free to skip the next three paragraphs!
First and foremost, it isn’t as hard as I expected. I was pretty afraid of trying it because, I gotta be honest, just about nothing frustrates me like wasted effort in the kitchen. I hate investing all that time and food into something that ends up being wasted because it (or I) failed somehow. That wasn’t the case here, though. I definitely got lots and lots of layers in my dough, and it puffed in the oven for sure, but my layers were a little thick making my treats heavier than they should have been with practically no flakiness. Lesson? Roll the dough thinner on each turn. But I’ll get into that more when I post the recipe.
I also learned that I’m more capable than I give myself credit for. Now, I know that I’m pretty good at most baking and decorating, but I seriously doubt myself when things start to get more complicated (after all, it took me almost nine years to finally buck up and try fondant). I wanted to share this lesson with you because I know from some of your feedback that I’m not alone in doubting myself and my abilities in the kitchen. But this excursion into true French baking taught me that with a good recipe, clear instructions, and a little faith in myself I can achieve what I set out to make. I hope that helps any of you who are holding back from trying a recipe on here (or from somewhere else) to have a little more faith and to give whatever it is a shot.
Finally, I learned that making puff pastry is hard work. Really. It’s physically hard work. The muscles in my arms, neck, back, and abdomen are still sore today. I made the dough on Sunday. I mean it involved rolling cold dough and cold butter several times throughout the day (we’re talking an entire day to make this because of long chilling times). Furthermore, my height was a hindrance…I had to stand on a small ottoman in order to get the leverage I needed for rolling.
There I am, in the background…in my hot pink gnome pajamas, using one of Loki’s favorite sleeping spots to give me a boost. He is clearly unhappy with the situation, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, and we all make sacrifices for yummy food.
So, hopefully, in another week or two, I’ll have a good recipe and clear instructions for you to make puff pastry dough, and it will maybe be a little easier for you going into it knowing the things I’ve shared. In the meantime, you definitely have to try today’s recipe because these are melt in your mouth good, especially with a cup of hot tea!
There’s only a few characters (cold butter cut into cubes, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg, sugar, flour and cold heavy cream) but they all play big roles (please forgive my poor quality picture…I had to use my iPhone for this shot). These can be made as just plain cream scones by omitting the lemon zest and juice, or you can make lemon poppyseed scones by adding 1/4 cup poppy seeds.
In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest (if you use poppy seeds, add them here as well). Pulse the ingredients five or six times to mix. Distribute the butter evenly over the top of the flour mixture and pulse another five or six times until the butter is cut to about pea sized. Pour in the heavy cream and pulse until the ingredients just come together as a dough. Pour the mixture onto a lightly floured surface and lightly pull any loose pieces together to form a more cohesive dough. Try not to handle it too much, as you want the scones to be cold when they go in the oven.
Once your dough is formed, shape it into a disk that is about an inch thick and seven to eight inches across. Using a sharp knife or a dough cutter, cut the disk into eight equal wedges and transfer them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Yum!! These are still piping hot and fresh from the oven! You might notice that although these look mighty tasty, they have fallen over. What that means is that they didn’t bake straight up and tall, but rather started to bake up, then lost their balance and fell over a bit. This happens when your scones aren’t cold enough before putting them in the oven. I was prepared for this to happen because I was taking pictures of the dough and it kept warming up more and more. If you aren’t able to work your dough quickly enough and it starts to become too soft and warm, simply chill the scones, covered, in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. I chose not to because we were too impatient and wanted to eat them right away!
Chilling them also applies to making them ahead of time. They are fast to make anyway, but if you’re really pressed for time in the morning, make these the night before and store them, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator overnight. But don’t apply the egg wash/lemon/sugar topping until the next morning, just before they go into the oven.
Lemon Cream Scones
Makes 8 scones
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus more for dusting the scones
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
finely grated zest from 2 large lemons
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup heavy cream, cold
1 egg, lightly beaten
fresh juice from 2 large lemons
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, placing an oven rack in the center.
Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the ingredients 5 or 6 times to combine. Distribute the butter evenly over the top of the flour mixture and pulse another 5 or 6 times until the butter is cut to about pea sized. Pour in the heavy cream and pulse until the ingredients just come together as a dough. Pour the mixture onto a lightly floured surface and lightly pull any loose pieces together to form a more cohesive dough.
Once your dough is formed, shape it into a disk about an inch thick and 7 to 8 inches across. Using a sharp knife or a dough cutter, cut the disk into eight equal wedges and transfer them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.Â Lightly brush the tops of the scones with the egg. Repeat the process with the lemon juice.Â Sprinkle each scone generously with about a teaspoon of sugar.
Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire cooling rack for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.
Adapted fromÂ The Art and Soul of Baking