The thousand and one sheets of pasta | Erre4m
square-khachapuri-with-puff-pastry-cheese.jpg
Blog
 / Sweet

The thousand and one sheets of pasta

Pastry basics include PASTA FLOUR

28 March 2022

Friends of Erre4m, welcome to this new post. Today we are going to talk about one of the bases of pastry making, but also one of the most complex to prepare: PASTA SFOGLIA.

Puff pastry is one of the six pillars that form the basis of pastry making and, compared to its sisters, has very ancient origins. Historical sources trace the birth of this product back to the Egyptians.

Greeks, Romans and Egyptians prepared dishes made of layers of filo pastry greased with olive oil. The ancient Greeks also prepared flaky pastries to accompany wine at the end of a meal. But then again, as we know, the origin of food preparations is a continuous succession of evolutions and adaptations over time. 

The most up-to-date example of ancient puff pastry is BAKLAVA, a traditional Turkish pastry made by overlapping many layers of filo pastry, buttered with each other and filled with pieces of sugared dried fruit flavoured with lemon juice and spices.

Modern puff pastry, used today in pastry shops around the world, is the work of chef Pierre de La Varenne who lived in the 1600s.

Varenne worked at the court of Maria de' Medici, learning the secrets of Renaissance and medieval Italian cuisine. He devised a new and ingenious way of preparing sfogliata (as it was then called), which consisted of incorporating butter into the pastry by means of 'rounds'.

And you may ask, what are the 'rounds' that de la Varenne talks about? Before dealing with this central topic, let's see what its main feature is.

The most up-to-date example of ancient puff pastry is BAKLAVA, a traditional Turkish pastry made by overlapping many layers of filo pastry, buttered with each other and filled with pieces of sugared dried fruit flavoured with lemon juice and spices.

Modern puff pastry, used today in pastry shops around the world, is the work of chef Pierre de La Varenne who lived in the 1600s.

Varenne worked at the court of Maria de' Medici, learning the secrets of Renaissance and medieval Italian cuisine. He devised a new and ingenious way of preparing sfogliata (as it was then called), which consisted of incorporating butter into the pastry by means of 'rounds'.

And you may ask, what are the 'rounds' that de la Varenne talks about? Before dealing with this central topic, let's see what its main feature is.

Before concluding this post, let's take a look at the characteristics that the ingredients of pastry and dough must have:

FLOUR: as puff pastry is a very elaborate product, it requires the use of resistant flours. The repeated stretching and folding of the dough puts considerable stress on the gluten proteins; therefore, a flour low in gluten will lead to the inability of the pastry to resist the continuous stretching, and consequently the failure to create the dough and butter states. A moderately strong and elastic flour with W 300 is therefore used, which is able to guarantee the correct resistance and elasticity of the pastry and the dough.

BUTTER: this is precisely the ingredient that enables the physical rising of the pastry. The fats in the butter generate unparalleled aromas and flavours. Butter also imparts crispness and flavour to the puff pastry. The drawback of butter is that it has a very low smoke point (28-33°C), so it is difficult to use in puff pastry preparation. In fact, puff pastries prepared with butter must be left to cool between rounds.

WATER: together with the fat part, water is the ingredient that triggers the physical rising of the pastry. In fact, the water for preparing the pastry must always be COLD to ensure rapid cooling. Remember that the pastry will come into contact with butter and butter has a very low melting point. Another very important detail is this: the water must be of the right quantity to obtain a pastel of the same consistency as the cake in order to have perfect layering.

SALT: it has never been specified but the pastry is not a sweet base... it is salty! And it is precisely this peculiarity that makes it suitable for both sweet and savoury preparations. The purpose of the salt, however, is not only to make the puff pastry predominantly salty, but also to strengthen the gluten mesh and colour the product during cooking.
 

We'll give you the recipe for the classic puff pastry while, for the procedure and the little secrets for preparing an excellent 'sfogliata', I refer you to the next post.

Keep following us!

Blog by Enrico Gumirato pastry chef and trainer