Sourdough Puff Pastry

Don’t let this weird experiment fool you: this is just another puff pastry tutorial. I just wanted to see how sourdough starter might affect things, and I was pleasantly surprised!

Incorporating sourdough starter into classic puff pastry lends a light tangy quality that both offsets and compliments the rich, buttery pastry. And while making puff pastry can involve a time commitment, it freezes beautifully for later use.

This recipe and method is adapted from King Arthur Flour’ Classic Puff Pastry. If you’ve never made puff pastry before, I highly recommend using their recipe to start.

Sourdough Puff Pastry

Lean dough:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp butter, chilled
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup fed sourdough starter
  • 3/4 cups cold water

Fat dough:

  • 1 lb butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup flour

Puff pastry is made from rolling two pastries together: a lean dough and a fat dough.

Step one – Make the doughs:

To make the lean dough, combine 3 cups of the flour with the 4 tbsp of chilled butter and the salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture is like cornmeal. Dump into a bowl. Add in the sourdough starter and cold water. Mix until it comes together as a dough, adding a little more water if necessary.

Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes to develop the gluten. Wrap the dough in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

To make the fat dough, combine the pound of softened butter with the remaining 1/2 cup flour until smooth and homogeneous. On a lightly floured surface, pat into a square or rectangle shape – roughly 8-inches in length/width – wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Step 2 – Roll the doughs together:

Remove the lean and fat doughs from the refrigerator. Roll the lean dough into a square roughly 12-inches on each side. Place the fat dough in the center of the lean dough, and fold the lean dough around it, completely covering the fat dough.

Step 3 -Turn one:

Pat with your rolling pin and roll the dough into a rectangle measuring 20 inches x 10 inches (roughly). Fold the dough back on itself in thirds (like a business letter) or in fourths (like a wallet):

Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Steps 4 – 9 Turns two through six:

Remove the dough, roll into a 20 x 10 rectangle. Fold in thirds or fourths. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Complete a total of 6 turns. If the dough has stayed cold, you may be able to complete two turns at once, cutting down on refrigeration time. When in doubt though, be patient, and make sure the dough stays well chilled. Rushing is no good for the dough and no fun for you.

Here, I sliced the dough in half since I’ll be using the two halves for different purposes in the future. You can see the lamination created by the layers of butter and flour:

Finish:

When the sixth turn is completed, refrigerate the dough for one hour or overnight. At this point, the dough may be shaped and turned into croissants, pain au chocolat, breakfast tarts or anything you like. It can even be frozen for later use. Let it thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes before using. If you’re unsure of where to start, Alton Brown has a great guide and recipes for pain au chocolat and croissants.

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