A versatile pastry formed classically with layering a fat rich dough with a flour rich one. Lovely and flaky, this recipe beats anything you can find in the shops, and it will truly impress your friends and family.
The butter should be at room temperature, but still firm, and the water should be fridge-cold.
Cut the butter into small dice, about 1 to 2cm.
In a bowl, mix the plain flour with the salt. Rub in the butter until there are no lumps remaining.
Sprinkle the water over the flour mix, and gently knead into a soft ball of dough: you might not need all the water, so do not add it all in one go.
Continue kneading the dough until it becomes supple and loses any stickiness. Pat down the dough into a squarish shape about 3 cm thick, wrap in cling film, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Soften the remaining 175g of butter: it should be spreadable but not melted or greasy-looking.
Stir in the remaining 75g of plain flour until you obtain a homogeneous paste.
Scrape out onto some cling film. Shape into a 3cm-thick square.
Refrigerate until cold, but still pliable: you should be able to poke a shallow dent into the butter without too much force.
Place the block of dough onto a lightly floured surface.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the four corners so that you obtain a four-pointed star, where the points are significantly thinner than the centre. The thickest part of the dough should be more or less the same size as your block of butter.
Place the butter block on the dough, and fold in the four points to wrap everything up into a neat package.
Gently roll out the dough into a long rectangle: it should be about the same width as the original square, and two or three times longer.
Depending on how soft the dough has become, fold it into quarters (if it is still quite firm) or thirds (if it is somewhat soft).
Wrap the dough in cling film, and return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Repeat the rolling out and folding process: twice if you are using quarter folds; three times if you are using third folds. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes in between each stage.
After the final rest, the puff pastry is ready to be rolled out to the desired thickness and used for your favourite recipe.
Puff pastry can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months, tightly wrapped in cling film. If you choose to freeze the dough, roll it out into thin sheets before wrapping and freezing: it will defrost more quickly.
«Puff pastry needs to rest in the refrigerator before being baked: cold pastry will rise much higher than room-temperature pastry. For much flakier pastry, substitute part or all of the plain flour with strong flour.»