The last time I did my baking post I was working on buns. I tried those yeast rolls and they were an epic fail. 😦 . I will be revisiting those sometime next week. Meanwhile lets talk about Puff Pastry. Why am I doing this? Everyone writes about it and talks about the mystery of this pastry. They make you feel as if you have to be a French Chef to master it or when you master this pastry you are the ruler of “pastrylandia” lol =$.
I remember as a child enjoying Pastelitos, a Cuban Puff Pastry that it actually derived from Spain because when the Spanish came into Cuba they brought these delightful traditions. When you walk in the Spain there are tons of tapas bars and pastry shops all displaying these beautiful turnovers which may be sweet or savory. The Cubans made their own style based on what they had available and that’s when the Guava and Cheese Pastelito came about. In some regions of the U.S. you might have access to a Cuban style bakery; growing up in South Florida you could find a lot of Cuban bakeries.
Well, anyway these Pastelitos are made with Puff Pastry. What is the deal with this pastry? Everyone talks about; that you need to use particular flour, use butter that is very cold and you most fold and refrigerate. What’s going on with Puff Pastry is the following: the flour has to be pastry flour or a combo of all purpose and cake flour; it needs to have a low protein and high starch content otherwise it makes it difficult to have those flaky layers. And how do those flaky layers come about? Well, when you have those layers of fat between layers of dough and the fat melts, air bubbles (CO2 gases) get trapped and create the separation between the layers of dough. So you use very cold butter because you want to slow down the melting process of the fat so it does not get absorbed in the layers of dough, butter melts at approx. 98.6° F, you want the dough to cook a little before the fat melts so the pocket is created. Now, if you were to use shortening, this is what the traditional Cuban Pastry and/or Spanish Pastry is made with, melts at around 115° F and you will have a puffier pastry because of the longer melting time. The flavor is a little different but you can always combine half shortening and half butter that way you have the flavor and the height in the pastry. I am not going to tell you how to make Puff Pastry but I will tell you to watch this video with Julia Child and Michel Richard and jot down the ingredients and watch his process, you won’t be disappointed. Have fun and remember that you are just creating layers of fat between dough and it is okay to have a little fat mixed in. The main objective is not to mix the fat with the dough and you do this by keeping everything cold otherwise, you will have a flaky pie crust.
Once you have that dough made cut up a few squares, get some cream cheese and guava paste and make a turnover, sprinkle with a little granulated sugar or a little apricot jam watered down and bake at 400° F for about 20 minutes and “Pouf” you have Guava & Cheese Patelitos. If you don’t have guava just use cream cheese they will still be yummy or you can even substitute the guava for another fruit preserve (I would probably freeze the fruit preserve in the shape of a little ball so they bake better). If you have the opportunity of getting you hands on Spanish Chorizo, remove the casing, chop it up, chop up some green olives with the pimento in them and sauté till lightly darker in color and the fat has rendered out. Cool and stuff some Puff Pastry with the mix and bake just like the pastelito. You can even wrap a Brie with the pastry and bake and Voila! – you have bake brie.