In a large bowl, mix 3 1/3 cups of the flour with the sugar and salt.
Add the milk and begin tossing with the flour. Smear the flour and
milk along the sides of the bowl to blend well, then incorporate back
into the mixture. If the moisture is absorbed too quickly by the
flour, add another tablespoon of cold milk. Mix well but don't over
mix. Sprinkle a little bit of flour over it and then flatten the dough.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. In a mixer bowl beat the
butter with the remaining flour until it's combine. Add more flour if
necessar to properly soften the butter. There should be no cold
lumps of butter. Form the butter and flour mixture into a square.
Cover a work surface with flour. Place the chilled dough onto the
flour, but don't handle too much. Roll out the dough into a
rectangle. Place the softened square of butter onto the dough. Lift
each end of the dough over the butter and seal like a package. The
dough is now ready for the first of 4 double folds.
Start by pounding the dough gently in one direction. If you begin
rolling, make sure the dough doesn't stick to the work surface. Roll
only in one direction and not past the far end. Rolling past the end
will pinch and smear the layers at the edge. Roll and manipulate the
dough into a rectangle about 20 inches long and 8 inches wide.
Press hard on the handles of the rolling pin to form the rectangle,
then brush off any excess flour from the surface of the dough. Bring
both ends toward the center like a book. Then, fold in half, closing
the book. Wrap the pastry dough in plastic and refrigerate it for at
least 45 minutes. The dough has been turned once, and now has 4
layers. Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface so that
the spine of the dough becomes the long side of your rectangle.
Begin again by pounding gently. Make this rectangle about 12 X 18
inches. Fold and turn in the same way as before, first forming a
rectangle that measures about 10 X 14 inches, then folding the 2
sides into the center with a little gap in the middle. Fold in half,
making sure the spine of the dough becomes the length of the
rectangle. Rest the dough after turn number 3 for about 1 hour in
the refrigerator. On the fourth and final turn the dough should be
smooth and elastic. Try to form well defined corners with neat
edges. Fold and turn once more in the same way, then chill for at
least 4 to 5 hours before using.
If not using immediately, cut the dough into three slabs, wrap in
plastic and store in refrigerator. If you want to freeze dough, wrap
tightly in plastic and then in foil. Label and freeze. Best used within
2 months if frozen.
Recipe makes 3 pounds of puff pastry dough.
Date: February 8, 2002