Ever wondered what puts the "puff" into puff pastry? It's the hundreds of layers of butter-- 729, to be exact. Though this recipe is a bit time consuming, it's worth your time; you'll never want to go back to frozen puff pastry again!
For one large sheet, you'll need:
+ flour, 1/2 cup & 1 1/2 cups, divided, plus extra for dusting
+ butter, 4 sticks, softened*
+ heavy cream, 1 cup
+ salt, 1 large pinch
First, whip the butter in a food processor or with an electric mixer. Slowly incorporate the 1/2 cup of flour. When thick and fluffy, place the butter mixture on a piece of flour-dusted plastic wrap. Roughly shape the butter mixture into a square (about 1" x 4" x 4"), secure with plastic wrap, and pop in the freezer.
While the butter is hardening, put the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour into the food processor with the salt. Slowly drizzle in cold heavy cream, until the mixture forms a dough. On a floured board, roll the dough into a rectangle, approximately 4" wide and 8" long. Deposit the butter mixture at one end of the dough, and fold the dough, basically creating a butter "sandwich." Wrap in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
On a floured board, roll the dough to double its length. Fold the dough on itself three times (as if you were folding a letter), lightly roll to smooth, and return to refrigerator for another 30 minutes. This is the first of six turns; now, your dough contains three layers of butter. Repeat this step five more times.
Roll the finished product into a thin square, and use a paring knife to trim any rough edges away. Refrigerate for up to 2 days, or freeze for several months. Always thaw before using!
* Many recipes call for cold, minced pieces of butter, as is common in pie dough. However, by softening the butter, you make the flour easier to incorporate into the butter, allowing for a smoother, easier-to-handle final product.