5.28.2010

Fast, Easy, Homemade Vegan Puff Pastry

Whenever the boyfriend and I feel like deviating from our fairly normal weekend brunch menu of scrambled/fried tofu or tofu benedict, we take out Vegan Brunch and page through it to see what appeals to us that day. I make and remake Isa's seitan sausages often, as well as the whole wheat drop biscuits, and when it's the boyfriend's turn, he makes me the pancakes and waffles.


But there is one thing we have not been able to make. Without fail, every time we open up the cookbook, the boyfriend turns longingly to the Tempeh Sausage Pastry Puffs and asks me if I can make them. "We have to get puff pastry," I always explain.


As it turns out, this is harder than it seems. We shop at a natural food coop that rarely carries puff pastry--and when they do, it has butter. We decided one day to try Whole Foods, who carried, to our initial delight, three kinds of puff pastry! ...but they all had butter in them. Vegan puff pastry is hard to find--especially if you care about what you eat. Vegan Brunch says that Pepperidge Farm's puff pastry is vegan, but guys, do you know what's in Pepperidge Farm's Puff Pastry? Copy and pasted from the nutrition information:


Unbleached Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid) Water, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Shortening (Soybean and Cottonseed Oils Colored with Beta Carotene) 2% or Less of: Gluten, Mono and Diglycerides (from Hydrogenated Soybean Oil), Soy Lecithin.


YUCK. Two kinds of hydrogenated oil. Plus soy and wheat are two things that, if you eat organic, you want to be organic, and because cotton is not a food crop, there are way fewer limitations on the types and amounts of pesticides and herbicides used in dealing with cotton plants. Cottonseed oil is nasty, guys, and if you prefer to eat organic, so is Pepperidge Farm's puff pastry.


I would have to make it myself. But traditional puff pastry requires time, energy, and skill with dough that I do not have. It calls for about 24-36 hours of preparation, most of which is chilling, but a lot of which is rolling out dough. Basically, if you can't master a pie crust (which, embarrassingly, I can't), you're doomed with traditional puff pastry recipes.


BUT THEN I found this recipe. A food processor puff pastry dough that only needs to be rolled out twice and refrigerated once? It was worth a try. I obviously veganized and otherwise changed it slightly, but full credit goes to Cooks Illustrated for it. This is a picture-heavy post because the directions are easier to illustrate than to describe.


Fast, Easy Vegan Puff Pastry


The recipe makes 24 puff pastry squares. You can halve it if you want, but the dough freezes well, so if you only want 12 (like I did), just make the whole recipe and save the rest for later. Also, though the original recipe calls for salt, it also calls for unsalted butter, so I figured earth balance was salt enough.


Ingredients:


2 Cups all-purpose flour (plus a bit for flouring your work surface)

20 Tbsp (that's a cup and a half) vegan margarine, cut into small chunks

6 Tbsp ice water

I normally use the organic Earth Balance, but it's much easier to measure 20 Tbsp with the sticks, which are at least all natural.


1.) Put the flour and about 4 Tbsp of the margarine into a food processor; pulse 15ish times to incorporate. Add the rest of the chunks of butter, then pulse again, but only 3-5 times.


2.) Add the water. Pulse for 10-20 seconds, until it starts to form a ball of dough.


3.) Put the dough on a large sheet of parchment paper, form into a rough rectangle. Put another sheet of parchment paper on top.


4.) With a rolling pin, roll it out long and flat; 12 by 18 inches. Remove the top layer of parchment paper, turn the dough over onto a well-floured surface, then pull off the other layer.


5.) Fold the sides over the middle, so it's now about 4 inches in width.


6.) Roll it up length-wise.


7.) Squash it into a square, then wrap this tightly in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge until firm. The recipe I used says 1 hour, but the longer the dough was in the fridge, the firmer it got, so if you can leave it for a couple hours, even better. (At this point, you can freeze it [or half, like I did] for later use; just put it in a plastic bag in the freezer. Simply thaw by moving it to your fridge then night before you want to use it.)


8.) Take the dough out of the fridge. If you are using the full recipe (for 24 pastries), divide the dough in half and just follow these directions twice, keeping the half you're not using in the fridge until you're ready for it. Again, put the dough between two large sheets of parchment paper. Roll to a 10- by 15-inch rectangle, then cut into 12 pieces.

Here is where the recipe and I differ. I had doubts that these thin little strips would really puff up, so I took each piece, folded it over itself twice (you can see an example of the folded square on the right side of the picture), and rolled it out again not quite as thinly before putting them on the baking sheet.

It took maybe an extra 5 minutes total and I was really glad I did it; they puffed up well, and I know I owe some of the layers to the fact that I did that last-minute extra folding.


I loaded them up with the sausage topping, hoping that after all my work they would really actually puff, and followed Isa's recipe directions (400 degrees for 18-20 minutes)... and voila!

Homemade vegan sausage-topped puff pastries! The are very filling; we each had 3 and a salad for dinner and were stuffed.


I still have the other half of the puff pastry in the fridge. I might make something desserty with it, maybe those palmiers... Any other recommendations for use?


For the record, you could substitute some of the flour with whole wheat pastry flour, but it will puff way less, be less flaky, and take a little more water. I recommend trying it with all white flour the first time at least.


28 comments:

Green said... Best Blogger Tips

<3 !
Who says homemade options have to be ridiculously time intensive? Bravos on your veganized version. The options are endless.

*-*
Asante.

parsley said... Best Blogger Tips

Bit of a stupid question I suppose but what would you use for an egg wash on top of the pastry? Thanks for the recipe! Great blog, just found your site through a search for puff pastry on Google, which is why I'm posting comments on your old posts, didn't notice the dates :-)

Sarah P said... Best Blogger Tips

Parsley--I almost never bother with "egg washes," because they're usually for shine and/or browning and I don't particularly care whether my baked goods are shiny. But brushing with a bit of soymilk or a bit of melted margarine would do the trick in most cases; watered-down agave or maple syrup would work brushed on sweet baked goods. I appreciate the comments, no matter how far back; thanks for reading!

parsley said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks for the reply! As soon as I posted it I was thinking that well it's really actually not that necessary. But I suppose for completeness sake it's nice to have that goldeny-brown colour. It's another classic that I want to recreate, steak pie (not sure if you get it in America, in Scotland it's pretty common to have it as a New Year's Day meal), suppose I can call it steakless pie. Think I will go with the soy milk and see how it turns out, thanks again!

Sarah P said... Best Blogger Tips

I've never heard of steak pie, but I just looked it up and it sounds like a tastier version of a pot pie. Keep me posted on your veganized version, I'd love to hear about it!

SavvyAmy said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Sarah P & Parsley--
I am overjoyed to find this recipe and agree that the Pepperage Farm PP is both nasty and expensive. Besides which, I think their PP may be the only item they have that's vegan--their bread certainly isn't. Anyway, since I routinely make my own bread, I've discovered a good substitute for an egg wash: a cornstrach glaze. Mix 1/2 cup cold water with 1 tsp cornstarch. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and stir until it's translucent and thick. Chill. Brush on the baking item 10 minutes before it's due to come out of the oven. Can be stored in the fridge for future use.

Rainflower said... Best Blogger Tips

Hey I made the dough but it was far too sticky. The Earth Balance was slightly warm though. I put it in the fridge. That may help. Any other suggestions?

Sarah P said... Best Blogger Tips

Hey Rainflower, everything has to be very cold, so the Earth Balance should come straight from the fridge, and the ice water should sit for a minute or two to make sure it's all the same, cold temperature. The good news is that the dough is not a failure just because it's sticky--just refrigerate it longer between steps and it'll firm up to the texture you need.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Looking for a vegan puff pastry and found this...yeah..it looks not too difficult too. I also have issue with pie crusts.. LOL :)) Thanks for this post!

Jay said... Best Blogger Tips

I was also looking for a pastry recipe to make a steakless pie :) Can't wait to give this one a go!

@Parsley, For steak I used dark TVP chunks soaked in stout (when I lived in Scotland I used Black Isle Breweries stout as it's vegan and organic) so the end result is more a steak and ale pie - yum!

Joelle said... Best Blogger Tips

This looks great, and easy enough too. I was just googling for a vegan puff pastry recipe, as my dinner loaf/fake "chicken-turkey" thing for Christmas calls for puff pastry to put over the top. I hope this will work!

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Hubby & I wanted to make PETA's Almost Beef Wellington with Madiera Sauce but to our dismay couldnt find healthy vegan puff pastry options either. Will repost to tell how it turned out. I'm sure it will be yummy. :)

Sarah P said... Best Blogger Tips

@Anonymous Great! I hope it goes well--let me know!

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Try this with your puff pastry for a breakfast/brunch or coffee option, too!

Home made Cinnamon Rolls

(All ingredients vegan.)

Roll out your pastry & spread on butter. Sprinkle on brown sugar, cinnamon and quartered almonds or pecans. Roll, and slice into 3/4" slices.

In a muffin tin, place a slice of butter, a teaspoon of quaterted almonds and a teaspoon of brown sugar. Top with your slices of dough. Bake as you normally would to bake the pastry.

Allow to cool a bit, and turn the pastry out, and spoon the melted topping over it.

SOOOO GOOD. This is awesome as a sugar free version, using sugar free brown sugar alternative, too!

ParentingPoetryandPiety said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks for this awesome recipe! I hope you don't mind if I adapt it for a recipe on my kosher blog (with due credit to you of course). It's so hard to mix pastry and meat and still be kosher with all the additives these days. This recipe definitely does the trick!

Sarah P said... Best Blogger Tips

@ParentingPoetryandPiety Go for it! I'm excited to see what you do with it!

Colleen said... Best Blogger Tips

Loved/Love this post. I use to work in ag chemical PR (20 years ago) on none other than cotton - and you are 100% right. Cotton has more pests than most crops = more chemicals... many of which are pretty darn harsh! Thank you for pointing this ingredient out, as I now run a sustainable food & wine event and really care very much about what my family eats and how the earth is treated in growing the food we put in our bodies... I, too, had seen Pepperidge Farms as a suggested vegan option and thought... "well maybe it will just be easier to go buy it." Your post gave me perspective and I appreciate it! ;) Thanks!

Stephanie said... Best Blogger Tips

Wow. Thank you so much for this! I have so many recipes I am trying to "veganize" many recipes and the only thing missing was a vegan puff pastry. Can't wait to try this!

Natasha said... Best Blogger Tips

I'm so excited to try this. I can't find puff pastry without palm oil and I thought it would very difficult to make myself.

laurel said... Best Blogger Tips

Any ideas for making this puff pastry gluten free?

Sarah P said... Best Blogger Tips

@laurel I have not tried it gluten free, but you may be able to just use all-purpose gluten-free flour. Since this doesn't really rely on the gluten in the flour the way bread or pie crusts do, it might work. As I advise above, though, make sure all your ingredients are very cold, since gluten-free doughs tend to be especially sticky.

Kiwi said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks for posting this recipe. Have not been able to find palm oil free puff pastry and always thought it was super tricky to make.

Just one question, is a blender essential for this? I have a vitamix but not sure if the ingredients will be too dry for it to blend properly, worried the blade might get stuck.

Sarah P said... Best Blogger Tips

@KiwiA food processor isn't necessary (although I thought the whole point of a vitamix is that it can handle anything! I don't have one though, so I don't know), but doing it by hand does eliminate the "fast" part of the recipe. Most traditional puff pastry recipes will tell you to do it by hand: you cut in the butter and flour with a pastry cutter or fork, and work it into a smooth dough. This will take a while, and the whole goal is to keep the dough as cold as possible the whole time. Good luck!

Kiwi said... Best Blogger Tips

@Sarah P Thanks Sarah, I will attempt with Vitamix then and see how I get on. I know there are different types of tub with blade for Vitamix and not sure I have the right one. Worth a try though I guess!

Alex McCarthy said... Best Blogger Tips

@parsley
A little cornstarch and water boiled up and brushed on works great!

Julia @ Full Belly, Happy Heart Blog said... Best Blogger Tips

This is awesome! I've been using the same puff pastry brands you mentioned, with guilt over the ingredient list. I'm excited to get away from store-bought, and my pot pie recipe will be even better with homemade puff pastry. Thank you!!

Pot pie recipe: http://fullbelly-happyheart.com/veggie-pot-pie/

Sarah P said... Best Blogger Tips

@Julia @ Full Belly, Happy Heart Blog That looks delicious! I've recently discovered two brands of crescent rolls (Immaculate Baking Company and Annie's) that are vegan and made from good ingredients; I often cheat and use those as puff pastry by pinching together the seams if I don't have time to make this puff pastry.

Dana said... Best Blogger Tips

You can also use the pastry for "Tarte Tatin", if you like caramel apples.