Years ago, I left working in commercial kitchens to work in a bakery. I loved cooking. The kitchen had become my second home, a place where I could just be me.
I lost my mother in my mid twenties. She died in my arms, and my life changed forever. Most days I felt like I was walking through a thick fog, unsure of myself, uncomfortable around my friends. When I walked into the kitchen, it was like the fog would lift and I would have focus. My smile and laugh came easier. I didn't have to worry about unwanted advice about how I should be coping. When you lose someone, you realize how short life is and how all the little things really don't matter. In the kitchen, life was about food. Not what people were wearing or who was dating who. You have a family that has your back, you get through these really tough nights together and feel accomplished. Cooking gave me a new life and a new passion.
But the long days, and even longer nights began to wear me down. I missed being home for dinner, and I missed having a "normal" life. When I heard that Standard Baking Company was hiring bakers, I jumped at the chance to make a change. Of course, my crazy late nights turned into crazy early mornings but it was a welcomed change.
I chose to feature puff pastry as our first recipe because working with laminated doughs became an obsession of mine. I worked mostly with croissant dough which is a very similar process. My obsession is of course the end product. Flaky, buttery pastries. But, what I really loved was right before you start to shape your croissants, you cut the dough in half, and there you can see the beautiful, perfect layers that give your pastry that flaky, buttery goodness.
You start puff pastry in a mixing bowl. I always add the cold water first. This help incorporate the dry ingredients without over mixing. It's also important for the butter to be soft.
Mix the dough just until all the ingredients have been incorporated. Your dough should be shaggy, not smooth.
On a floured surface, roll the dough into a tight ball. Then cut an X in the ball half way. Wrap and refrigerate for at least a half hour.
While your dough cools, add butter to the mixer.
The butter should be malleable, not whipped.
Form the butter patty into a square.
Take the ball dough out from the regrigerator. Peal open the X of the dough ball to form a square. Add the butter patty to the dough. I like to smooth down the edges of the butter patty. Then fold in the edges of the dough to completely cover the butter. Your end product should be a square dough.
Gently press the dough down. And begin to roll it out.
Apply gentle pressure.