Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Whaaaaaaaaaat? 729 layers?

I took a puff pastry class recently and thought I'd brag about my results. This wasn't a puff pastry class where we made the pastry from scratch, because apparently that would take about 6 hours of wait time, while the layers, so we used store-bought frozen pastries and I must say, the results came out quite nice. I DID learn something amazing though and that is that a classically made puff pastry has 729 layers in it! SEVEN HUNDRED TWENTY NINE! That comes from taking the dough, folding it in thirds and letting it chill, then putting in some butter and folding it again in thirds, and doing that 6 times until the original 3 layers have multiplied each time. What makes it puff is air from the water in the butter. AH HA! And that is our chemistry lesson for the day. Chemistry was NEVER this fun or tasty in college. LOL

Anywhooo, at my class we were given the choice of making a sweet or savory pastry and I went with the sweet because I didn't like the choice for the savory... tomato(ick) basil with parmesean cheese. The sweet was a strawberry and cream pastry.

Here is the recipe:
Strawberries & Cream Tart

1 puff pastry sheet
1 block cream cheese
1/2 tablespoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1/2 cup half & half
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup sliced or quarted strawberries

Preheat oven to 400.
Prep your baking pan with parchment paper.
Place your puff pastry sheet on the baking pan.

Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

While dough is baking, prep the vanilla cream cheese frosting.
Whip the cream cheese until soft, adding half & half to help ease it.
Slowly add the powdered sugar, vanilla and remaining half & half until fully combined.

When the puff pastry has cooled slightly, spread the frosting on top of the pastry dough.
Top with fresh strawberries.
And TA DA!! The finished product...

This is best eaten right away. The Hubs and I had some later in the day and I was really impressed with the quality of the Trader Joe's frozen pastry. Maybe someday I'll attempt to make a puff pastry from scratch.

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