This classic gets a whole lot better with homemade puff pastry.
December 30, 2020
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I'm a self-taught baker, recipe developer, and food photographer who works as a digital strategist by day in the concrete jungle of New York City. Aside from a never ending supply of baked goods, my Brooklyn apartment also houses two cats and my personal taste-tester (boyfriend).
Pigs in a Blanket
There’s never been any other food that screams “New Yeas Eve” quite like pigs in a blanket. My mom made them every year, served alongside sparkling apple cider of course, and we truly never got tired of eating them. Now well into my adulthood, these little cocktail weenies still get a seat at my NYE table and I feel zero shame about saying that.
What DOES make me feel bad, is using that store bought crescent roll dough to make these. I know, it’s classic. It’s traditional. But it’s also not that good. I’m aware some of you guys may be scared about making your own puff pastry from scratch. For some reason “puff pastry” evokes this nervous feeling in bakers who have never tried it, thinking it’s just too difficult for beginners. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! Now, let me preface with saying this isn’t a traditional puff pastry. It’s a “rough puff”, a bit easier and a whole lot faster, but you’ll still get amazing flaky layers of buttery dough.
How to Make Rough Puff Pastry
I’ll let you in on a little secret, making dough is really easy as long as you keep two things in mind:
Keep everything ice cold. The only ingredients that go into puff pastry are butter, flour, salt, and water. Keeping your butter cold during the process ensures that you get super flaky pastry, and that’s why we keep it in the fridge or freezer before using it, and why we chill our dough so many times in between rolling it out.
Use a gentle hand. With such a short and simple ingredient list, making puff pastry really comes down to the right technique. If you can master using a light and gentle touch, you’ll be able to make just about any kind of dough or pastry. There’s this impulse with beginner bakers to knead the shit out of dough, or crank their mixers to the highest speeds and mix for ages. For pastry doughs, you literally want to do as little as possible because overworking dough leads to tough pastry with no flakes.
And that’s literally it! Just two things to keep in mind and I promise you’ll have the best puff pastry of your life and never go back to those crescent rolls. Or, hey, just buy puff pastry from the store and ignore everything I just said. You do you!
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
One 12–14 oz package mini hot dogs
One egg, beaten
In a large mixing bowl, add the flour and salt, give it a stir to combine.
Take out the butter from the fridge and place half of it into the freezer (one and a half sticks). With the remaining half, slice the butter into thin slices and toss in the flour to coat.
Take the rest of the butter out of the freezer and shred, using a large cheese shredder, into the flour. If the butter starts to stick to the shredder, dip in the flour as you go and continue shredding. Toss all the butter in the flour to make sure it’s evenly coated.
Add ice cold water, one tablespoon at a time, while fluffing the mixture with your hands to evenly distribute. Once the mixture just holds together when you squeeze it in your hand, turn out the dough onto a large piece of parchment and gently knead together to form a tight square. If there are any dry bits of dough at this point, they’ll hydrate as the dough sits in the fridge.
Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to rest for two hours.
Take the dough out of the fridge, unwrap, and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a long rectangle, about two to three times the length of when you started.
Fold the dough like a letter, bringing the bottom end up toward the center, and the top end over that to seal.
Turn the dough 90 degrees so the rough ends are facing you, and repeat the same steps as above: rolling the dough out again, folding the ends up like a letter. If the dough sticks at any points during these steps, throw down more flour on the top and bottom of the dough. It’s important to try to work quickly here so the butter won’t melt.
Rewrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for a final hour. If you’re making this ahead of time, you can do this a day in advance and chill in the fridge overnight.
When ready to use, slice the dough in half and place one half in the freezer, wrapped. This will keep for about two months. Take the remaining half of dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to a rough square about an eighth of an inch thick.
Take your mini hot dogs and, using them length as a guide, cut the dough into strips about one inch wide and three inches long. The dough strips should cover the length of the hot dog and fully wrap them with some overlap at the seam. Repeat this step with the dough until you’ve used it all.
Wrap each hot dog in a strip of dough, and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet making sure that the hot dogs are placed with the dough seam down. This will prevent them from unwrapping as they bake.
Brush each wrapped hot dog with egg wash (one beaten egg) or a bit of melted butter. Place in the fridge to chill while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the pigs in a blanket for about 20-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and puffed.