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The thousand and one sheets of pasta...the return

28 March 2022

Welcome back Erre4m friends in this new post. Today we continue to talk about PASTA SFOGLIA.

In the previous post we looked at the main feature of this exceptional base, the layering, which gives volume and crispness to puff pastry products. We also introduced the classic puff pastry recipe and the ingredients that make up the initial structure, the PASTELLO and the PANETTO.
The pastello is the portion that generates the steam that will make the puff pastry rise, while the panetto is the fatty portion that holds the steam inside the puff pastry.

Let's complete the discussion on puff pastry by devoting ourselves to the mixing of the pastello and panetto and their joining, rolling, resting and baking... let's proceed!

The pastel, made up of flour, water and salt, is kneaded at low speed until the ingredients are mixed, then it is spun at higher speed to form the gluten mesh. The dough should then be wrapped in cling film and left to rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

The dough should be formed by mixing the cold butter (recommended 10°C) with the flour at low speed, just long enough for the two ingredients to come together. Then the dough should be given a square shape 2 cm thick, covered and chilled for at least 30 minutes.

PUFF PASTRY EMBEDDING METHODS

These consist of the joining and subsequent rolling of the cake and the pastry.
There are various methods of joining the pastel and the loaf, but the most important and widely used are as follows:

  • CLASSICAL METHOD: stretching the pastel the same width as the loaf, but twice its length. The crayon is placed in the centre of the stretched crayon, which is then folded over the crayon to wrap it.
  • REVERSE METHOD: in this case, the cake wraps around the crayon. This is done by scratching the surface of the cake and placing the crayon on top of it. The normal rolling and folding of the pastry sheet is then carried out. 
    This is a difficult method to perform compared to the classic method because the pastry sheet, being on the outside, heats up more during lamination, so it requires a good technical and practical knowledge of the pastry chef.

The pastry sheet prepared using this method will be more stable and crumbly than the classic one because the fatty part, containing the pastry completely inside, will also contain the water of the pastry itself, resulting in a more crumbly pastry sheet.

LAMINATION AND FOLDS

The operation following the joining of the two components of the sheet is its elongation (LAMINATION in technical jargon) and the formation of the folds. This phase is the heart of sheet preparation.

By rolling the sheet to the correct thickness and then folding it in the correct manner, it should ALWAYS return to the initial size of the loaf.

The importance of this operation is that, by doing it in the right way, precise and equal layers of baker's cake and pastry are obtained, which will allow the sheet to rise perfectly. In addition, rolling must be done by slowly lowering the thickness of the dough, to prevent the layers from tearing.

We now come to the folds, which are also necessary for layering the pastry. The folds can be of two types: FOLD BY THREE and FOLD BY FOUR.

The fold by three or simple fold consists of: dividing the elongated sheet of pastry into three equal parts and folding them towards the centre, obtaining a three-layer block with the initial dimensions of the loaf.

The four-layer fold or fold-over consists of:bringing the two ends to the centre of the elongated sheet and then folding them over each other.

The current puff pastry, prepared nowadays, compared to the one de La Varenne devised, normally requires four sets of folds plus 1 hour of resting in the fridge at each fold or turn. It should then be left to rest for 24 hours before its final use.

The quantity and sequence of the folds can vary according to the needs of the pastry chef, the characteristics of the raw materials and the final result to be achieved. It is important to know that as the number of folds, and consequent number of layers, increases, the physical leavening of the pastry sheet decreases. This is because the lower thickness of the pastry generates less steam and therefore less development of the puff pastry.

One last, but by no means least important thing about rolling and folding the sheet of pastry is this:
THE SHEET BETWEEN FOLDS MUST ALWAYS BE ROTATED BY 90°. This operation allows the sheet of pasta to be stretched evenly to prevent it from shrinking during processing and cooking.

FINAL LAMINATION AND FIRING

Once the folds and rests have been completed, we move on to the final rolling and forming of the products. Normally the sheet is divided into pieces as the final products may require different thicknesses. The sheet is cut in the direction of the folds.
The final rolling requires extreme care on the part of the pastry chef, as during the steps the sheet may become too wet and stick to the rolling pin or table, rendering the product unusable. It is therefore necessary to flour the pastry sheet from time to time.

A very useful tip for rolling is to use a piece of baking paper or a silicone mat as a working base.

Once the products have been prepared, they must be left to rest in order to avoid deformation during baking.
This resting period varies from 30'/40' for moulded products such as pizzas and sfogliatine; to 12 hours for cannoncini.
The pastry must be baked at a starting temperature of 190 C°. 

Baking must be carried out at this temperature for the entire baking period. On the other hand, for those products dusted with icing sugar, the baking temperature is raised to 205 C° the last 10' to allow the sugar to caramelise.

We can conclude by saying that puff pastry is a preparation for the unadulterated and fearless enthusiast. 
Try it to believe.

Having said that, it only remains for me to wish you good work... until next time!

 

Blog by Enrico Gumirato pastry chef and trainer