This week’s Short and Tweet Challenge was to make Dan Lepard’s catchily named ‘Light spelt rough puff pastry’ from “Short and Sweet” plus the associated savoury tarts (made with said pastry). I must admit my heart didn’t leap when I saw this listed on the S&T schedule. Although I like puff pastry, when I used to have my market stall I made rough puff each week by the bucket load and it was never my favourite activity. You could always tell when I was making puff pastry as all those stages of folding, rolling and chilling tended to make the kitchen look like an explosion in a flour factory and it was amazing just how many nooks and crannies that flour worked its way into.
Thus it was with some trepidation that I approached the challenge this week but I needn’t have feared. Making the pastry in such a dinky, rather than industrial type, quantity proved rather a pleasure. My previous go-to rough puff recipe was Yotam Ottolenghi’s from “Ottolenghi: The Cookbook” but this requires the rather tedious task of grating copious amounts of frozen butter. In contrast, Dan advocates just mixing fridge cold cubes of butter into the flour which was a darn sight easier. It has been a while since I have made Ottolenghi’s recipe but if memory serves me correctly, I think Dan’s pastry is also easier to roll straight from the fridge.
It may horrify the pastry purists, but Dan adds a little baking powder to his recipe to aid the aeration of the flaky layers which is a canny trick and one I had not previously heard of. Sure enough, my pastry inflated spectacularly as soon as it hit the oven, possibly even a little too much (if that can ever be a complaint of puff pastry) as my resulting tarts were certainly thicker than those pictured in “Short and Sweet”. Perhaps this was an altitudinal quirk but I would probably roll the pastry thinner than 0.5cm next time.
Something of a pattern seems to be emerging in that I am regularly finding Dan’s recommended cooking temperatures to be a little too hot for my oven. This week was no exception and after just 10 minutes at 200C fan, I could detect the ominous smell of burning. Hurriedly whipping my tarts from the oven, I found that the toppings had started to singe and that the underside of the pastry had begun to burn so I cautiously reduced the heat to 160C for the rest of the cooking time.
Possibly because I had messed with the oven temperature, I struggled to get my tarts a nice golden brown and I was kicking myself for not doing my usual thing of egg washing the edges as I think this would have helped their curb appeal somewhat. In my house, the response to the different tart toppings ranged from “meh” (‘chard, chevre and walnut’) to “quite tasty” (‘tapenade and roasted pepper’ and ‘butternut, bacon and sage’) and our favourites ‘chorizo and tomato’ (me) and ‘mozzarella, broccoli and parma ham’ (my OH’s). What was indisputable though was that the pastry was very, very good. It was airy, crispy and the addition of the spelt flour definitely added flavour. When I compared Dan’s and Yotam’s recipes I was surprised to see that the flour to butter ratio was exactly the same as whilst Yotam’s pastry is über buttery, it can sometimes verge a little towards the greasy. In contrast, Dan’s pastry is still buttery but exceptionally light.
Would I rush to make Dan’s savoury tarts again? Possibly, but I wasn’t blown away. Would I rush to make Dan’s rough puff again? By ‘eck I would and I have definitely found my new puff pastry recipe of choice. Sorry, Yotam. You have been usurped.