OK puff heads. Now that you have made your own puff pastry, it’s time for palmiers. This is a simple technique. The dough was the hard part.
Sometimes called elephant ears, these flat, crisp, cookies are loaded with buttery goodness.
You might sometimes find these pastries filled with cinnamon sugar or some other creative variant. This is all well and good, but it is not authentic and therefore I shun it. Of course what you choose to fold into your Palmiers is your own damn business.
Watch these carefully. They are thin and can burn quickly with all that sugar. Rotate the pan as necessary to promote even browning. Be sure to cool them completely before you dig in, to give them a chance to fully crisp up (and to prevent third-degree lip burns, brainiacs.)
1 sheet of puff pastry, rolled 18X24 inches, and 1/4 inch thick
3-4 cups sugar
1 cup simple syrup
Commencing BAKERY JURY …
These are ludicrously fat. These would not be crisp, but soft like a cinnamon roll. Plus they look like Jr. Bird Man spectacles, and not palm leaves. C-
Wrong and Wronger. Both are overcooked, but the one on the left could pass as chocolate. A mean trick to play on someone. D
It looks like this one tried to unfold itself and escape off the pan. Alas the temp was too hot and it perished. Improper folding has turned this into the letter “C” . Coincidentally, the same as it’s grade. C
This clever cook tried to jazz these up with a layer of Nutella. A valiant effort, but a goopy filling and inadequate oven time has rendered them undercooked, un-caramelized, and frankly, kinda gross looking. C-
BOOOOO! Not caramelized. BOOOO! D
NO! These are not biscotti. You may not dip. Also, not caramelized. A double whammie. D+
Good God! Red sugar? Shoot me now. F
Overcooked and under-folded. I think this baker was drunk. C- (Plus detention)
(For a good looking palmier, see the top of this recipe!)
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The secret to puff pastry is in the lamination. Laminated dough is dough with alternating layers, tightly compacted. In the case of puff pastry, the layers are dough and butter. Without these layers, there will be no puff. The key is in the butter.
Butter contains a large amount of water. When the butter hits the heat of the oven, the water evaporates into steam, and the steam pushes the dough layers up. It is the same principle employed in biscuits and pie dough (the cut-ins), and pâte a choux (cream puffs). Behold the power of steam!
To get those many layers, butter is encased in dough and the entire mass is rolled out into a sheet. Then through a series of rolling, folding, and refrigeration, the layers increase to several hundred. Throughout this process, known as turning, The dough and butter should remain cold, but not so cold that it becomes brittle. This determination can only be made by the cook, as refrigerators, kitchens, seasons, and parts of the world all vary in temperature.
The basic turn is called a single turn, and it is essentially a business letter fold. The dough is rolled into a large rectangle. That rectangle is divided visually into thirds, and each end folded toward the other.
For the double turn the dough is divided visually into four columns. The edges are folded in to meet in the middle, then the entire dough is folded in half, like closing a book. (It is sometimes brilliantly called a “book turn”.)
Throughout the process, remember that refrigeration and flour are your friends. Work quickly to keep the dough cold, and have patience.
Problems may arise if the rolling squeezes some butter out of the dough and onto your counter. It is not uncommon, and easily remedied. Just douse the butter with flour, tuck it back in, and pretend it didn’t happen. (“Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”) Try not to roll over that spot again, fold it inward on the next turn, and let it chill to solidify.