Classic French palmiers are among my favorite cookies not only because they are buttery and flakey and have perfectly caramelized edges, but they also happen to be very easy to make. This is particularly true if you use prepared puff pastry, which I suggest if you are short on time. But if you’ve never made your own puff pastry, I highly recommend you give it a go – you will be surprised by how easy it is, especially using my quick method below. Freeze-dried strawberries can be found in the dried fruit section of most supermarkets or through the link below.
Makes about 36 cookies
Really Rapid Puff Pastry
- 1 3/4 cups (235 grams) bread flour
- 1 1/3 cups (151 grams) cake flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 32 tablespoons (454 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (133 grams) ice cold water
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup (14 grams) freeze-dried strawberries (available here)
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- Small pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 large (50 grams) egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 to 2 tablespoons (12-25 grams) granulated sugar
Make the puff pastry
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment or beaters, combine the bread flour, cake flour, and salt at low speed. If your mixer has a splatter shield attachment, attach it now. Add the butter pieces, one-third at a time, and mix for just a few seconds. The mixture will be very crumbly, with large pieces of butter in it. While continuing to mix at low speed, add the ice-cold water, and mix just until the dough starts to come together (large pieces of butter should remain).
- Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface and pound and pat it into a rough rectangle with a rolling pin. Roll the dough into an 8-by-16-inch rectangle, dusting the dough with flour as needed. Arrange the dough with a short side closest to you. Brush off any excess flour on the dough with a pastry brush. Fold the bottom third up over the center, and then the top third over the bottom, as if you were folding a business letter. The dough now has three layers. Rotate the dough 90 degrees, so that the open folded sides are at the top and bottom. Roll the dough out again to an 8-by-16-inch rectangle. Fold it again to make three layers. The dough has now been “turned” twice. Wrap the dough well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it so that the open ends are on the top and bottom. Roll and fold the dough as before, to make two more turns. Cover the dough and refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the palmiers
- Put the freeze-dried strawberries, 1/3 cup of the sugar, the lemon zest and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until the strawberries are finely ground.
- Cut the puff pastry dough in half to make 2 rectangles. Wrap 1 of the rectangles in plastic wrap and return it to the refrigerator. Sprinkle a work surface evenly with 1/3 cup of the sugar. Dredge both sides of the other dough rectangle in the sugar. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a 12-by-13-inch rectangle, turning the dough over frequently so that both sides of the dough absorb as much of the sugar as possible while being rolled out. Using a pastry wheel or chef’s knife, trim the edges to make them even, if necessary. Sprinkle half of the strawberry mixture evenly on top of the dough. Fold each 13-inch side half of the way in towards the center. Fold each side in again so that the folded edges meet at the center point. Fold the dough over again from the center forming 6 layers of dough. Cut the folded dough in half crosswise, to make two 6 1/2-inch long strips. Wrap each strip well in plastic wrap. Place the dough on a tray and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until firm. Repeat with the remaining rectangle of dough.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425˚F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove 1 strip of the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap it. Trim off the ends, if uneven. Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut the dough into 1/3-inch slices. Arrange the slices cut side down on the baking sheet, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart. Cut only as many slices as will fit on the baking sheet. Rewrap the uncut portion of dough and refrigerate until needed. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water until smooth. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg mixture over the top of each cookie. Sprinkle the cookies with sugar. Bake the cookies for 9 minutes, until the bottoms are just beginning to brown. Remove the sheet from the oven and let the cookies stand for a minute to allow the filling to set. After a minute, turn each palmier over and bake them for another 3 to 5 minutes, until they are golden brown. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely. Repeat the slicing and sugaring process with the remaining dough strips.