Half a pound and two ounces of sifted flour. Half pound of best fresh butter, washed. A little cold water.
This will make puff-paste for two Puddings, or for one soup-plate Pie, or for four small Shells.
Weigh half a pound and two ounces of flour, and sift it through a hair-sieve into a large deep dish. Take out about one fourth of the flour, and lay it aside on one corner of your paste-board, to roll and sprinkle with.
Wash, in cold water, half a pound of the best fresh butter. Squeeze it hard with your hands, and make it up into a round lump. Divide' it in four equal parts; lay them on one side of your paste-board, and have ready a glass of cold water.
Cut one of the four pieces of butter into the pan of flour. Cut it as small as possible. Wet it gradually with a very little water (too much water will make it tough) and mix it well with the point of a large case-knife. Do not touch it with your hands. When the dough gets into a lump, sprinkle on the middle of the board some of the flour that you laid aside, and lay the dough upon it, turning it out of the pan with the knife.
Rub the rolling-pin with flour, and sprinkle a little on the lump of paste. Roll it out thin, quickly, and evenly, pressing on the rolling-pin very lightly. Then take the second of the four pieces of butter, and, with the point of your knife, stick it in little bits at equal distances all over the sheet of paste. Sprinkle on some flour, and fold up the dough. Flour the pasteboard and rolling-pin again; throw a little flour on the paste and roll it out a second time. Stick the third piece of butter all over it in little bits. Throw on some flour, fold up the paste, sprinkle a little more flour on the dough, and on the rolling-pin, and roll it out a third time, always pressing on it lightly Stick it over with the fourth and last piece of butter. Throw on a little more flour, fold up the paste and then roll it out in a large round sheet. Cut off the sides, so as to make the sheet of a square form, and lay the slips of dough upon the square sheet. Fold it up with the small pieces of trimmings, in the inside. Score or notch it a little with the knife; lay it on a plate and set it away in a cool place, but not where it can freeze, as that will make it heavy.
Having made the paste, prepare and mix your pudding or pie. When the mixture is finished, bring out your paste, flour the board and rolling-pin, and roll it out with a short quick stroke, and pressing the rolling-pin rather harder than while you were putting the butter in. If the paste rises in blisters, it will be light, unless spoiled in baking.
Then cut the sheet in half, fold up each piece and roll them out once more, separately, in round sheets the size of your plate Press on rather harder, but not too hard Roll the sheets thinnest in the middle and thickest at the edges. If intended for puddings, lay them in buttered soup-plates, and trim them evenly round the edges. If the edges do not appear thick enough, you may take the trimmings, put them all together, roll them out, and having cut them in slips the breadth of the rim of the plate, lay them all round to make the paste thicker at the edges, joining them nicely and evenly, as every patch or crack will appear distinctly when baked. Notch the rim handsomely with a very sharp knife. Fill the dish with the mixture of the pudding, and bake it in a moderate oven. The paste should be of a light brown color. If the oven is too slow, it will be soft and clammy; if too quick, it will not have time to rise as high as it ought to do.
In making the best puff-paste, try to avoid using more flour to sprinkle and roll with, than the small portion which you have laid aside for that purpose at the beginning. If you make the dough too soft at first, by using too much water, it will be sticky, and require more flour, and will eventually be tough when baked. Do not put your hands to it, as their warmth will injure it. Use the knife instead. Always roll from you rather than to you, and press lightly on the rolling-pin, except at the last.
It is difficult to make puff-paste in the summer, unless in a cellar, or very cool room, and on a marble table. The butter should, if possible, be washed the night before, and kept covered with ice till you use it next day. The water should have ice in it, and the butter should be iced as it sets on the paste-board. After the paste is mixed, it should be put in a covered dish, and set in cold water till you are ready to give it the last rolling.
With all these precautions to prevent its being heavy, it will not rise as well, or be in any respect as good as in cold weather.
The handsomest way of ornamenting the edge of a pie or pudding is to cut the rim in large square notches, and then fold over triangularly one corner of every notch.