Pastries over productivity
Starting research projects is always difficult, and I always forget how long it actually takes to get something up and running. I've found myself twiddling my thumbs as I start my new projects in Davis, waiting on emails and paperwork and so on. So in lieu of doing experiments or setting up field sites, I experimented with types of butter lamination for making puff pastry. It also coincided with heat waves and heavy smoke, so I unwittingly made this way harder than it had to be. Here we go!
There are three main techniques on the internet for making puff pastry. The traditional way is to create a butter block and slowly make butter layers in your dough by rolling and folding the dough over and over again. I knew this worked, but from previous experiences found it to be a nail-biting process. The two other methods (food processor and grating of butter) involved different ways of getting small butter pieces worked into the main dough, and the lamination time was truncated.
I'll put this here so you don't have to read to the end: butter block lamination remains the solid winner. There are no shortcuts to puff pastry, unfortunately. However, if you are making danishes, using the food processor method will work! Grating butter creates too small of pieces for puff pastry and you will waste your time laminating - only do this for biscuits.
Butter block lamination (traditional method)
I've failed at this method before and was especially worried that the heat wave would do me in. Luckily I managed to finish the lamination before 10 AM. This one did take a lot longer than the other ones, but I'm not surprised that the most authentic recipe is the longest/most difficult. Of course people are trying to come up with shortcuts!
At this point I was worried I had messed up. Uneven layers! I think I was most patient with this dough, because I evened it out after a few painstaking hours of careful rolling.
Food processor method
I was shocked this worked. I think the butter pieces were large enough that the lamination was effective. When I was working with the dough, I was sure it didn't work but they puffed up huge and flaky!
This was the most beautiful rise I achieved. I started getting excited when I saw this!
See those big butter chunks? I think this is why the food processor method was effective in recreating the butter block effect.
Grated butter method
One word: FAIL. I thought this would work as well as the food processor method, but the pieces of butter are just too small. This makes a really good biscuit, I guess. I wasted 2 hours laminating a homogenous dough...so silly.
I had fun with the fillings on this one, too bad it turned into a biscuit!
I should have known at this point that the dough was too smooth, no visible butter chunks and no extra butter block to compensate.