Puff pastry ventagli are a typical Italian tea pastry that I have loved since I was a kid.
Ventagli in Italian means fans, and they are called fans because of their shape…even though they look like a heart in my eyes. ;P
Whether you see them as hearts or fans, one thing is certain: these ventagli are addictive because of their sweet taste and their crunchiness. I’m sure that the girl in the pictures is looking for some of them in that bakery window!
This kind of pastry is really popular in Italy and you can find it in bakeries, pastry shops and even supermarkets. Believe me, I can eat a whole pack in one go. I can see the scene: me – sofa – tea – magazine – puff pastry ventagli and… goodbye World, don’t speak to me, I’m not here for anyone!
I could start an endless discussion with other Italians about what’s the best moment of the day to have one: breakfast? (yes, probably it’s weird for you, but we love pastries for breakfast) Or with a nice espresso after a meal? In the afternoon with a tea (hot in winter and iced in summer)? With a friend just dropped in? For a picnic? Or maybe after dinner, when you have a craving for something sweet? Stop me, because I can go on forever!
Here in Manchester I’ve never seen puff pastry ventagli in a shop, and maybe that’s a good thing because of my obsession for them… Ehm, maybe… but… because it’s been a while since I have had one and so I decided to make them at home! I promise, this time I’m gonna share them, scout’s honour!
The directions are really easy, you just need 2 ingredients: puff pastry and sugar. That’s it!
But (there is always a “but”), because I love everything homemade, I want to show you how to make a healthy homemade puff pastry, even if it’s a quick version. Obviously, if you don’t want to make it, skip this part and use a pre-made one.
Making puff pastry at home is not hard. To be honest, it’s just long because of the resting time. Following the traditional recipe you need to make 2 doughs. For the first one: mix flour, water and salt until combined, then let it set for 30 minutes in the fridge. While you wait, make the second one mixing butter and flour and let it set in the fridge for 1 hour. Roll the first dough with a rolling pin and put the second one in its centre. Fold it inside the first (like a package) and roll it again. Then fold the dough a few times. Maybe in the future I will show you the classic recipe step by step, but I don’t want to go into any more detail right now. I just wanted to show you that it is definitely longer that the fast easier version. There is only one really important thing in both versions: the folding. Because of the folding process, the puff pastry will have those amazing layers that everybody loves.
Let me show you how to make the easy puff pastry:
- 250 gr of plain flour
- 250 gr of cold butter
- A pinch of salt
- 100 ml of ice water (more or less)
- Grate the cold butter (don’t use an electric mixer, it will melt the butter) or cut it in to small cubes.
- Put the flour on the table making a small heap, add the salt. Make a hole in the centre and add the cold butter. The butter has to be cold, usually I grate it before and then leave it in the fridge until the last minute.
- Incorporate the butter loosely with the flour using your fingers (see picture).
- Add part of the water and combine until you have a dough. You could need to add more water to obtain the same consistency as mine in the picture. As you can see it’s not pretty or neat, which is absolutely normal at the beginning.
- Lightly dust your surface and roll the dough until it’s 20×40 cm. The shorter part has to be in front of you.
- Fold the bottom third of your pastry up to cover the middle third and the top third down. Seal the dough gently by pressing down on the edges with your rolling pin. Give the dough a quarter turn. The shortest part is again in front of you. Roll the pastry and fold it twice another two times. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Roll the pastry again, starting the process we just finished. Roll – fold –repeat, for 3 times in total. Cover and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Repeat again. Roll – fold –repeat. 3 times. Now your pastry is ready: silky, beautiful and smooth. The butter is completely absorbed and you can’t see it anymore. Cover with cling film and leave it in the fridge for 1 hour before using it (I prefer let it set half day or use it the next day). You can also freeze it and for a later use.
I know it looks a bit complex, but with some practice it will become easier, don’t worry.
Sugar (caster sugar or brown)
*cinnamon or lemon or orange zest (it’s optional, if you like to give it a different flavour)
– Pre-heat the oven to 200° C.
– Roll the pastry in a 5 mm thick rectangle. (If you use pre-made puff pastry just open it and remove the baking paper inside).
– Dust your surface generously with sugar. Lay the pastry on it and press gently.
– Dust more sugar on top and add cinnamon or zest, if desired.
– Now both sides are covered with sugar. Find the centre and roll both sides towards the inside. (see picture).
– Cut each indiviual ventaglio 1.5 thick.
– Move to a baking tray covered with baking paper. Bake for 12/15 minutes until golden.
NOTE: – This puff pastry is perfect for every sweet or savoury recipe as you wish (in Italy we also make small pizzas for parties with it, so yummy!).