I have a long and painful history with pastry. I really do. Things are peachier now, but every so often, I’ll still find myself staring down a too thin, too thick, too soft, too firm ball of dough wondering why I do these things to myself.
So I decided there’s no way I’m attempting puff pastry at home. Not yet, anyway. Apparently, even when I’m not the one who made the pastry, it still gives me a workout. I present to you, puff pastry that arrived not in sheets, but in a sort of block, that I somehow sliced through as it softened in my hands, then sliced up further, then rolled out, then stuffed with the world’s most delicious filling and somehow got them in the oven.
What I ended up with was supremely flaky little pies oozing a sweet-sour filling of all sorts of wondrous frozen berries and creamy ricotta. The pastry was buttery (which was surprising since I ended up buying a vegan brand without meaning to) but not in a gross greasy way. Yes, I overstuffed a couple of them and rolled a couple of pieces of the pastry too thin, but given what I started with, these were incredible 🙂
Glazed with cream and finished off with granulated sugar, these taste incredible with coffee, as a fairly acceptable breakfast.
Frozen berries are available at Regal Plus, Pali Naka, Bandra. They have all sorts of varieties and are priced fairly well. That is also where I found the ricotta by Mooz, another Indian, affordable brand of gourmet cheeses. The puff pastry is at Food Hall and Nature’s Basket, though I do wish I’d been able to find an already sliced version. I’ll explain more below. But, it is time to add to my list here!
So, Sally’s Baking Addiction has an easy way to make these individual pies if you have puff pastry that comes in sheets (let me know where you find it!). This involves cutting out two pieces per pie, so 16 pieces in all, and then sandwiching the filling between them. Easy peezy.
If you are in for a weird surprise like me, and find a block of pastry instead of sheets, here’s what you do:
Slice the block in half to a workable thickness (mine wasn’t very neatly done) and cut out one piece per pie. This way you can roll it out and stuff without having to struggle with cutting another piece.
Each piece I cut was rectangular, about 2 cms thick and 3 inches long. I rolled it out to about double the length, stuffed, sealed, crimped and baked.
All of this means it’s hard to determine just how much pastry you should buy. But a 500gms pack is more than enough, you will have about 1/4th of it leftover. I made 7 pies in all, but I think I could have easily made 8 without overstuffing a couple of them.
Make sure you’re not rolling too thin or the tops won’t brown because the filling is quite wet and will make the tops soggy. Spillage is a given, but to avoid too much of it, be a little restrained while filling it.
Here are some photos to help you along in my terribly dark, gloomy monsoon kitchen. The slits cut on top of the sealed pies are critical because some air might get trapped inside as you seal them and will make the pies burst. They are also important as ‘vents’ for the steam to escape so you don’t wind up with a goopy mess.
Aaaaand now the easy part, the filling. All you need to do is mix up some frozen berries of your choice, add in some creamy ricotta, a little sugar and start filling. Make sure once your pastry is cut up, it goes in the fridge while you roll and fill each piece one at a time. This does involve a bit of back and forth, but working in a hot kitchen means you run the risk of pastry softening too fast and therefore the pies getting soggy.
This is really not complicated, I know it looks and sounds like it, but that’s only because the pastry I bought wasn’t ideal. The great thing is you can be as flexible as you want to with this recipe. Roll your pastry out smaller or bigger, thinner or thicker, it doesn’t matter as long as you fill it up proportionately.
The filling goes perfectly with the flakey pastry and if after baking, you find the filling a bit sour, dust with powdered sugar to sort it out 🙂
Go get baking!
- 8 pieces puff pastry, each 3" long (cut from a block of pastry ; if using puff pastry sheets, cut 16 equal pieces ; details in the post above)
- Flour, for rolling
- ½ cup frozen raspberries
- ½ cup frozen blackberries
- ¾ cup frozen blueberries
- ½ cup soft ricotta cheese
- 3 to 4 tbsps caster sugar
- 2 tsps cream
- Granulated or coarse sugar for sprinkling on top, optional
- *See notes before beginning
- Place the pieces of puff pastry on a large plate or tray and chill in the fridge.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the frozen berries, ricotta and sugar. Set aside.
- If using puff pastry cut from a sheet, place about 2 tbsps of filling in the center of one piece, top with the second piece, press down lightly on the edges to seal and crimp with a fork to create a pattern and close the pie completely. Repeat with the other pieces, making sure the pies go back in the fridge as you assemble them.
- If using puff pastry cut from a block like I did, place each piece on a well-floured surface and roll it out to approximately double the length, ensuring it doesn't become too thin. Place 2 tbsps of filling in the center, then fold one side over the filling and on to the other side. Using the tips of your fingers, gently push the filling so it doesn't spill out of the sides and fills only the center. Seal the edges, trim them with a sharp knife if needed, and crimp with a fork to create a pattern and close the pie completely. Repeat with the other pieces, making sure the pies go back in the fridge as you assemble them.
- Keep the prepared pies chilled for 30 minutes. In the last few minutes, preheat the oven to 190 C and line a baking tray with a silicone sheet. Because of the inevitable oozing while baking, I highly recommend a silicone sheet here for the easiest clean-up. Otherwise, a lightly greased baking tray is the next best option.
- Mix the cream with a splash of water to thin it out, then brush evenly over the pies for a nice golden-brown sheen. You can also use egg-wash. Sprinkle with some granulated sugar for crunch and a bit more sweetness.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the pies are golden brown on top and the filling is bubbling. Some of it might have oozed out, no harm done.
- Allow the pies to cool at room temperature for at least 15 minutes so that the filling doesn't set your mouth on fire. Enjoy slightly warm although they taste just as good the next day, cold from the refrigerator :)
*An all-butter or vegan margarine puff pastry will both work well
*Do not thaw the frozen berries
*Fresh berries can also be used but might release more juices