Puff, Puff, Give…

It’s Sunday and that means it’s a cooking class! Sundays have been a great day for me to schedule cooking classes to teach folks about various culinary techniques and applications, in hopes to inspire them to tackle cooking challenges they may face. So today, the challenge was puff pastry.

Food trivia ~ how many layers are typically in a sheet of puff pastry dough that’s been made by the classical method? 10? 24? 50?….. No. The answer is 729! How can that be? Well the classic method in making puff pastry involves working a simple pastry dough into a stick of butter by rolling & folding the dough into thirds, then chilling the dough for at least an hour after every fold. This is done 6 times so 3 folds to every 6 times is 729. (Think of it as 3 to the sixth power – if that helps!). As you may have guessed, this is an extremely time consuming process which is probably why puff pastry can be a pricey ingredient to work with.

Another piece of information I talked about was why the dough puffs up to begin with. Because the dough uses so much butter that’s been embedded into the layers, the butter still has water molecules within it. When these water molecules heat up, they produce steam and expand, hence the dough “puffs”. Interesting huh?!

This is why I love teaching folks so much. Its one thing to blog about recipes I’ve made, but its a whole other reward when I’m able to apply what I know to empower and inspire others in the kitchen personally…. and to create opportunities for people around me to learn hands on and interact with them.
So back to my puff pastry. In the 2 classes (afternoon & evening) I hosted today, everyone made their own puff pastry creation, either sweet or savory. For the savory version, we made a caprese tart using fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil. For the sweet version, we made a strawberries & cream tart, with fresh strawberries and a vanilla cream cheese spread.Here are pictures of our final products, along with the recipes:


Caprese Tart

1 sheet puff pastry dough
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 egg, scrambled (egg wash)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tomato, sliced thin
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt & pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 400.
Prep your baking pan with parchment paper.
Place your puff pastry sheet on the baking pan.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top to cover.
Brush the egg wash along the sides of the dough.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
While dough is baking, prepare the tomatoes.
Slice the tomatoes and place on 2 layers of paper towels on a single layer.
Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and let side for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, dab the top of the tomatoes with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic, salt & pepper to create a garlic infused oil.
Set aside oil.
When the puff pastry has cooled slightly, spinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top.
Top the mozzarella cheese with slices of tomato.
Brush the tomato slices with the garlic infused oil.
Bake in the same oven for another 5-7 minutes until the cheese has melted and baked golden.

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 7 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.

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One Response

  1. These look so tasty!!

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