Sunday, January 27, 2008

Palmiers (also known as Elephant Ears)

This is the baking feat I am most proud of. I made these using puff pastry dough that I made from scratch. This recipe came from the Williams-Sonoma cookbook Essentials of Baking that David gave me for Christmas one year. It contains an entire section on pastries. What I really like about this cookbook is that it has step-by-step pictures that help you visualize what to do, especially for a complicated recipe such as this one. There is a section on puff pastry where it includes a master recipe for puff pastry and different recipes that can be made with it. It is a lot of work, but I was so happy with how they came out. Palmiers are sweet but not too sweet and crunchy without being too hard. Definitely delicious! This recipe makes 2 pounds of dough, and you can freeze it for later use. Here's the recipe from Essentials of Baking by Williams-Sonoma:

Master Recipe: Classic Puff Pastry

For the puff dough:
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup ice water, or as needed

For the butter package:
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

By hand: In a large bowl, stir together the flours and the salt. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour and work in with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Make a well in the center and pour the ice water into the well. Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in the flour from the sides of the bowl until fully incorporated and a rough mass that holds together forms. If the dough does not hold together easily, slowly add additional ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

By stand mixer: In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine 2 cups of the all-purpose flour adn the salt. Pour in the ice water and mix on low speed until a smooth batter forms. Scatter the butter pieces over the surface. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the remaining all-purpose flour and cake flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl about 5 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 15-20 seconds to make sure it is smooth and not sticky. Flatten the dough, shape into a rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap, place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to overnight.

To make the butter package, using a rolling pan or the heel of your hand, beat or knead the butter on a work surface to flatten and warm it until it is cool and pliable about 60 degrees. Sprinkle the butter with the flour and gently beat with the rolling pin to press the flour into the butter. Shape the butter into a 6-inch square about 3/4-inch thick. if the butter has become too warm, wrap and refrigerate just until firm but still pliable.

To laminate the dough, on a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12-inch square. Place the butter at a diagonal in the center of the dough. Fold over the corners of the dough to meet in the center, covering the butter completely. Pat with your hands to form an 8-inch square, then turn the square over so the seams are underneath. Roll out into a rectangle 24 inches long by about 8 inches wide, with a short side facing you. Fold the bottom third up, then fold the top third down, as if folding a letter. This is the first turn. Rotate the dough a quarter turn clockwise so that a fold is on your left. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes. Repeat to make 5 more turns, rolling, folding, and chilling the dough each time, for a total of 6 turns. Each time you start, make sure you have a fold on your left. After the final turn, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, place in a plastic bag, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight before shaping.

1 pound Classic Puff Pastry (half of the recipe above)
1 cup sugar for dusting
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Prepare the Puff Pastry and refrigerate to chill as directed.

On a lightly sugared work surface, roll out the pasty dough into a rectangle 1/2 inch thick. Move the pastry to the side and sprinkle the work surface with more sugar.

Return the pastry to the work surface and roll it our into a rectangle 18 inches long, 9 inches wide, and 1/4 inch thick, turning it once or twice as you roll and dusting with more of the sugar.

Position the pastry so that the long side is in front of you. Fold one long end over onto itself halfway across the pastry. Fold the opposite end onto itself halfway across the pastry so that the two ends meet in the center of the rectangle. Sprinkle the pastry with more sugar. roll the pin across the pastry lightly and sprinkle again iwth more sugar. Fold each long side lengthwise again onto itself so they meet in the center of the rectangle, and roll the pin across the pastry lightly.

Using a pastry brush, brush the egg mixture lightly over half of the folded pastry rectangle. You will not use all of the egg mixture. Fold the egg-brushed half over onto the other half of the pastry to form a long, thick rectangle. Roll the pin across the pastry lightly to seal. Place the rectangle on a half-sheet pan, cover with parchment (baking) paper, and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 45 minutes.

Position 2 racks evenly in the oven, and preheat to 400 degrees. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment (baking) paper.

Place the pastry ona cutting board and cut crosswise into slices 1/4-inch thick. Dust the work surface with sugar. Lay a cut side of a slice on the sugared surface and then flip it over to coat the other cut side. Place the slices cut side down on the prepared pan, spacing them 2 inches apart.

Bake the cookies until they are caramelized and brown, 13 to 17 minutes, turning once halfway through baking to ensure even caramelization. Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely in the pans. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Makes about 30 cookies.


MrsPresley said...

wow, i'm so impressed! i have yet to try my hand at homemade puff pastry...

Ally said...

Good Job with the puff pastry! In my family we always called them "Angel Wings" : )

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

That is awesome that you made your own puff pastry! Very impressive! Your cookies look adorable!

Welcome to The Foodie Blogroll!

Lunch Buckets said...

I once took a half box of these (store-bought though) home leftover from a function and ate them ALL on the way home. Never realized they were made from puff pastry. Duh!