Editor’s Note: This recipe comes from author Julie Jones from her book The Pastry School, which she provided to us for our Virtual Baking Summit. It’s not often you find a recipe for sheet pastry, and you might be wondering how to use it. Think of it being a great replacement for store-bought phyllo or traditional strudel dough. It works well for both sweet and savory applications, since it has a neutral flavor, so think a twist on baklava or pot pie topping. Here she provides further explanation along with a recipe:
Making sheet pastry is simpler than you may think, and it is easier to achieve than filo, in the respect that it is stretched rather than rolled to paper-thin transparency. I’m not saying this pastry is a doddle, but it is something you’ll get better at with practice, and believe me, I say this from experience. The trick is to stretch the dough little by little, resting between each stretch until eventually an incredible sheet of see-through pastry lies before you. It is very satisfying once you have the knack, and totally worth the effort. You will need a lint-free cloth laid smoothly over a small table or similar, measuring approximately 100 x 50cm (3ft x 20in). I use my coffee table, which has proven to be the perfect size for one quantity of dough.
Makes 1 batch, suitable for most standard recipes
- 1 3⁄4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (250 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 large egg
- Scant ½ cup (100 grams) warm water, around 50°C/120°F
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, plus extra for rubbing
- Place the flour, salt, egg, water and oil into a bowl and mix together using a fork.
- When the dough is mostly cohesive, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 3 minutes, stretching and pulling, rolling beneath hands.
- When smooth, shape into a ball and rub all over with a little more oil, then wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. It is important to start the next process precisely after the 30-minute resting. I have found this to be the optimum time for the dough to be stretched. I don’t know why, no doubt there will be a scientific reason behind it! I recommend setting a timer after placing it in the fridge, so you don’t forget.
- Lightly yet evenly dust the tablecloth with flour and rub in well. Place the ball of dough in the center of the table, dust with flour and start to roll out, trying to keep the shape rectangular. As the dough stretches it is important to rest occasionally for 30-second intervals, to allow the dough to relax – which makes rolling easier. Continue to roll until the surface area has at least doubled, after which time all further stretching must be done by hand.
- Snag-free hands are essential here, so if needed do remove any of your rings and clip sharp nails to prevent tearing. Start the stretching by lifting an edge of the dough and gently and slowly pull the dough outwards, until it stretches. Move around to another area and do the same continuing around the table until the pastry has stretched out towards its edges. Do be patient, only returning to a previously stretched area after 30 seconds or more. Small holes or tears may appear, but worry not – a perfect stretch only comes with practice and usually these snags won’t be noticed when the pastry is used later.
- Continue to stretch until the dough hangs over the table’s edges, to secure it in place. Allow the pastry to dry for 5 minutes before trimming all around the outer edge using a pizza wheel. Discard the excess. Some recipes will call for the pastry to be rubbed with cornstarch or cut into sheets. Some will call for a lengthy drying time and others may need to be generously brushed with butter.