A few weeks ago I was in Burlington, Vermont doing a demo and book signing for a big crowd at the New England Federal Credit Union for the new book Bake it Like You Mean It (for reals! They host a Distinguished Writer's Series IN the bank. I get to fling sugar around willy-nilly in the world of finance!) . After assembling, slicing and dicing my way through my cake demo, I took questions from the crowd, as I am wont to do.
One lovely baker, hearkening back to my second cookbook Pie It Forward, asked why the recipe for Quick Puff yields so much more dough than needed for an individual pie. I explained to her that in reality, I was doing the baking world a favor. Here's why:
While making quick puff is easy, it is a bit of a process. That's my first reason for making a larger batch than necessary for one project. Better to make it behemoth so you don't have to go through the task again for a while.
The second reason is that once you start using puff, you'll discover a thousand applications for it that you want to try RIGHT AWAY! Now aren't you glad you have all that extra dough?
Third, it freezes beautifully. Wrap the dough you aren't using tightly in plastic wrap and shove it in the freezer. It'll last for months.
And lastly, there are moments in a baker's life when your usual zeal for creating heavenly confections in the kitchen is zapped. Lack of sleep, 100º weather, cramps. Any or all of these things can dampen a flour aficionado's affection for the pastry arts, if only for a moment. It's usually in the throws of this disaffection that an urgent request for a baked good comes your way. But what's this? You have extra quick puff in the freezer! You can pump out something gorgeous and unbelievably delicious in no time or effort.
Here's a perfect example of a snappy tart that will come to your rescue on those days when you just don't have the energy to break out your best and brightest inner master baker: a quick blueberry tart.
Zippy (Puff) Blueberry Tart
Quick Puff from the freezer (recipe and amount of dough to use follows)
3 cups frozen blueberries
juice and zest of 1 lemon
scant pinch fine sea salt
1/3 cup King Arthur Flour Pie Filling Enhancer (this is a mixture of thickener, sugar and ascorbic acid)
If you prefer a sweeter pie, a few extra tablespoons of granulated sugar
1/4 cup Sugar in the Raw to finish
•Preheat oven to 375ºF.
• Cut a chunk of dough from your larger quick puff block (I use about 1/8th of the total dough for this tart but you can cut of more for a larger tart, less for a smaller, etc).
• If the block is frozen solid, place it in a microwave and defrost on the 2nd to 3rd lowest power setting and nuke for 4-5 minutes at a time, checking to make sure you're only thawing and not melting. Now, if you have advance warning of an impending dessert, you should put the puff in the fridge overnight to thaw.
• On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a rough 9" circle.
• I place an 8" cake ring gently onto the middle of the rolled dough and, using a very sharp knife, cut a circle around the ring, about 1/2 to 1 inch larger than the cake ring.
• Place the cake ring onto a parchment lined sheet pan (you can use a cake pan instead of a cake ring if you don't have one hanging around). Tuck the dough into the cake ring (or pan), making sure you create an even edge all around.
•Freeze the dough for 20 minutes.
•Dock the dough (using a fork, poke holes along the bottom of the dough) and line with parchment. Place pie weights or dry beans over the parchment and blind bake for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment. Check to see if the dough has lost its "raw dough sheen." If it hasn't, place the dough back into the oven without parchment or weights for 10 more minutes.
•Add the blueberries to a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine the Pie Filling Enhancer, lemon zest, nutmeg and scant pinch salt (add extra sugar, if using). Stir to combined.
•Pour the lemon juice over the blueberries and stir with a wooden spoon to distribute and break up the frozen berries. Sprinkle the Pie Enhancer mixture evenly over the berries, stirring as you add. Continue stirring until the berries are evenly coated.
|Ready to go into the oven!|
•Spoon the filling into the prepared dough. Sprinkle the Sugar in the Raw over the blueberries and the exposed dough edge. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the dough is dark, golden brown and the filling bubbles slightly.
A Quick Quick Puff Tutorial:
These are images of images from my book Pie It Forward, taken by the wonderful Tina Rupp.
2 pounds AP Flour (I only use King Arthur AP flour)
2 pounds cold, unsalted butter cut into chunks
1 1/4 cups ice cold water
1/2 teaspoon salt
•In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Stir with your hands to distribute the salt.
•Add the butter and massage the butter into the flour with the tips of your fingers until the butter pieces are a bit smaller, about the size of a dime. Add the water and smoosh everything around with a wooden spoon or with your hands, coating the mixture with water (this gets terribly messy and sticky). Gently knead until the whole mess looks like it's just barely holding together. Dump the dough out onto a lightly flour surface and form it into a loose square. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 10 minutes on the counter, where the flour will continue to absorb moisture from the water and butter.
•Make a single fold by bringing one short edge of the dough to the midline of the rectangle, then fold the other side over on top of the first fold- just like folding a letter (that's why the process is also called a letter fold).
•Turn the dough 90 degrees, roll out the dough again to the same size rectangle, and make another letter fold.
•Do this twice more, to make 4 folds and turns total. Bits are going to plop of will-nilly. Don't worry. Just be patient. Shove the errant blobs of dough back into the whole and persevere! It comes together in the end. Promise.
•Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes or freeze for months!