How To Use Frozen Puff Pastry Dough
Baking with Frozen Puff Pastry
• Store-bought puff pastry can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months in the original packaging "so it doesn't absorb any of the flavors or odors around it." If you have unused dough, Simmons advises wrapping it in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil before freezing again.
• Simmons recommends defrosting puff pastry for 20 to 30 minutes on the countertop away from the oven. She notes, "There's a lot of residual heat there. If you over-defrost, it becomes too warm and hard to work with." Once it's defrosted, cut the puff pastry into shape and either put it in the oven right away or store in the fridge until you're ready to work with it.
• Since puff pastry isn't as delicate as other pastry dough, cutting it is relatively easy to do. Simmons likes using a small, sharp paring knife because it's easier to control. To create circular shapes, use "the top of a water glass" or "a big salad plate." Cookie cutters can also be used.
• Got scraps? Simmons says there's a variety of ways to use these as well: "You can make quick cheese straws—sprinkle them with Parmesan and fresh herbs, such as chopped rosemary or thyme, with a little cayenne pepper; twist and bake them up. For something sweet, you can do the same but with cinnamon sugar."
• Always use unsalted butter. "It's much easier to add something than take something away; use salted for spreading on bread or something you'll eat right away."
• Finish off your puff pastry creations with an egg wash. "It gives them just a little more shine, a little more of that glossy goldenness. It's by no means necessary, but it's great—especially for the edges."
• Be careful with oven temperature. The rule of thumb is to "underestimate and check."
Quick Recipe Ideas:
• Baked Doughnuts: Take a circle of puff pastry and put peanut butter and jelly in the middle. Place another circle on top, seal it and bake. "It's my favorite. It comes out like a cream puff, like a light and flaky version of a doughnut that's super-fun and not fried."
• Dumplings: Put a dollop of filling on a small circle of pastry and fold it over so it becomes like a half-moon. Experiment with fillings: Try mixing goat cheese and sweet potato together, or do a take on a baked potato—scrape out the inside of a potato and mash it with butter and garlic.
• Blinis: Cut 12 to 20 small circles out of a puff pastry sheet using a ¼-cup measuring cup or shot glass as a template, then bake. Layer with any savory topping you like. "For the holidays I love doing a little caviar, smoked salmon, lemon zest and crème fraîche."
• Prosciutto-Cheese Cups: Cut 10 to 12 squares (about 2 to 2½ inches each) out of one sheet of puff pastry. Lay each square at the bottom of a mini muffin tin cup, leaving the corners of the pastry folded up and out. Fill each cup with crumbled blue cheese, and layer it with a prosciutto-wrapped fig.
Note: For all recipes, set oven at 375°F and bake for 10 to 20 minutes.
Video: Working with Frozen Puff Pastry.flv
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