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Puff Pastry also known as pâte feuilletée, is a flaky light pastry made from a laminated dough composed of dough (détrempe) and butter or other solid fat (beurrage.). The butter is put inside the dough (or vice versa), making a paton which is repeatedly folded and rolled out before baking.
The gaps that form between the layers left by the fat melting are pushed (leavened) by the water turning into steam during the baking process.
Puff pastry seems to be related to the Middle Eastern phyllo, and is used in a similar manner to create layered pastries. While traditionally ascribed to the French painter and cook Claude Lorrain who lived in the 17th century (the story goes that Lorrain was making a type of very buttery bread for his sick father, and the process of rolling the butter into the bread dough created a croissant-like finished product), references to puff pastry appear before the 17th century, indicating a history that came originally through Muslim Spain and was converted from thin sheets of dough spread with olive oil to laminated dough with layers of butter.
The first known recipe of modern puff pastry (using butter or lard), appears in the Spanish recipe book Libro del arte de cozina (Book on the art of cooking) written by Domingo Hernández de Maceras and published in 1607. Maceras, the head cook in one of the colleges of the University of Salamanca, already distinguished between filled puff pastry recipes and puff pastry tarts, and even mentions leavened preparations. Thus, puff pastry appears to have had widespread use in Spain by the beginning of the 17th century. The first French recipe of puff pastry was published in François Pierre La Varenne’s “Pastissier françois” in 1653.
Source: WikipediaAdd to Favourites