Introduction: Classic French Palmiers
A palmier is a French pastry in the shape of a palm leaf or a butterfly. The name Palmier is short for feuille de palmier or palm tree leaf. Other names used for Palmiers include palm heart, elephant ear, and French hearts.
Palmiers are fairly simple cookies with only 3 ingredients:
- Puff Pastry
- Egg White
Two of those ingredients, sugar & egg, you probably have at home right now. The third, puff pastry, is probably not something you have laying around the house. Oh, sure, you could just buy some, but lets be honest, you don't come to this site because you like to buy stuff.
And, you can't talk about palmiers without talking about puff pastry. Puff pastry is a laminated dough similar to croissant dough, but without yeast. It is made by alternating layers of dough and butter by rolling and folding to create hundreds of layers.
First, we'll make puff pastry, then we'll make palmiers.
This whole process will take a few hours, so plan accordingly.
****I POST A LOT OF PICTURES, SO MAKE SURE YOU CLICK ON THEM TO GET MORE TIPS****
All ingredients needed: (exact amounts in each step)
- All Purpose Flour
- Pastry flour or Cake Flour
- Butter, Cold (European Style)
- Heavy Cream
- Cold water
- Dry and liquid measuring cups
- Scale (optional but handy)
- Sheet pans
- Parchement paper
- Pastry brus
- Rolling Pin
- Sharp knife or pizza cutter
Step 1: Puff Pastry Dough
Lets get started on the puff pastry dough.
- All Purpose Flour.......................350 grams or 12.4 oz
- Pastry flour or Cake Flour ........100 grams or 3.6 oz
- Butter, Cold..........................................45 grams or 2 oz
- Heavy Cream.............................100 grams or 3.6 oz
- Cold water..................................170 grams or 6 oz
- Salt.............................................9 grams or 2 tsp
Start by mixing the flours together. If you don't have pastry flour and want to use All Purpose, I won't tell anyone.
Next, you want to incorporate 2 oz butter into the flour. This is easiest done by hand. You want to rub the flour into the butter. You can use your fingers or put some of the flour/butter in your hand and rub it across your hand over and over. The idea here it to coat the flour in the butter. When you're done you will get something that looks like cornmeal (but doesn't feel like cornmeal). No bits of butter should remain.
Next, dissolve the salt into the water and then add the heavy cream to that.
To the flour, make a mound and create hole in the center. Pour the cream mixture into the flour and mix until the flour is moistened. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes to allow the flour to hydrate.
To the dough you are going to do several roll and folds. Once the dough comes together, roll it out with a rolling pin. Then fold that piece and roll it again. Repeat the until you get a somewhat smooth dough. On your last fold, squash the dough into a flat shape, a square would be ideal, about 9"x9".
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Step 2: Butter
While the dough is chilling, lets start the other half of the puff pastry, the butter. Puff pastry is essentially 50% butter and you don't want to use just any butter. European or European style butter is what you want. Why? Well, because it has more butterfat. More butterfat means less water. It's not always easy to find though, so if you have to use regular butter, make sure it is higher quality.
- Butter (European Style)...................450 grams or 1 lb (4 sticks)
- All Purpose Flour.............................45 grams or 2 oz
Allow the butter to come to room temp. When it warms up, cut it into smaller pieces and put it into a mixer using the paddle attachment. Mix the butter slightly to smooth it out and then add the 45 grams of flour. If you don't have a scale, that's about 1/4 cup of flour plus another 1/8 cup of flour. Or 1/6 cup, or a slightly rounded 1/3 cup, or about 6 tablespoons. Anyway...you've got lots of options.
Add the flour to the butter and continue mixing until smooth. Flour does a couple things here.
1. It absorbs some of the water in the butter, and
2. It makes the butter a little pliable when it is chilled, instead of brittle.
While the butter is mixing, get a large piece of parchment paper and cut it to 12x16 inches.
Lay the parchment flat and fold the left side to the center and press a crease. Do the same with the right side. With both sides folded in, fold the top edge to the center followed by the bottom edge, pressing each end to form a crease. When you unfold the parchment, you will have a rectangle in the center that should be 6"x8".
Using a spatula, spread the butter into the rectangle on the parchment paper. Try to keep the thickness as even as possible. When you are done, fold the parchment like you did before. If the thickness is off, you can run a rolling pin over it to even it out, after you have wrapped it.
Refrigerate the butter for 30 minutes. If you are in a hurry, you can put it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
Step 3: Lamination
Next up is the lamination. Take your cold dough and butter and let it warm up for about 5 minutes.
On a lightly floured counter, place your dough in a diamond shape, with the corners up/down. If its not quite square, stretch it until it is. Using a rolling pin, roll out the tips of the corners so they are slightly elongated, leaving the center slightly thicker.
Next, unwrap the butter and place it in the center of the dough. If the butter hangs over the edges of the dough, roll out the ends a bit more.
Next, grab the top lobe of dough and bring it down over the butter. Do the same with the bottom one.
Next, grab the left piece of dough and fold it over, followed by the right. If done right, it should now look like an envelope. Press the dough gently with your hand to level the dough.
Before rolling the dough out, use the rolling pin and press the dough in 3 sections from top to bottom. Then turn the a quarter and do the same. This helps squash the dough before rolling a thick piece. **See the pictures for examples**
Before you roll out the dough, I want to mention feathering. The dough will want to stick to the surface so to prevent that, you want to lightly flour the surface and use a technique called feathering. Feathering is done by running your hand under the dough after you roll some out. If it does start to stick, add a little more flour. **See the pics for an example of feathering**
Next you're going to roll out the dough until it is about 4 times taller than it is wide.
Roll the dough in 3 sections starting from the top. Roll down about 1/3 of the way with about 80% pressure, then roll it back up to the top with about 50% pressure. Repeat that starting about 1/3 of the way down, working your way to the bottom. When you get to the very bottom, don't roll over the bottom edge, you don't want the butter to squeeze out. Just go over it lightly.
Don't forget the feathering.
If at any time, if the dough starts to become soft and warm, refrigerate it for a while before continuing with your recipe. Sprinkle a little flour on the surface, fold it up and throw it in the fridge.
Once the dough is long enough, fold the top half down to the middle and the bottom half up to the middle. Then take the top half and fold it over the bottom half. You should now have a stack of 4 layers, this was your 1st fold.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
You've just created 12 layers, when you are done, you will have hundreds.
Once your dough is chilled, let it warm for 5 minutes and lay it out so it is the same orientation as a book, with the opening on the right.
Next, you are going to repeat the whole process again starting with pressing on the dough with the rolling pin. After each roll and fold, make sure you refrigerate the dough. The dough must stay cold.
You want to do this 4 times. On the 4th time, trim the edges of the dough so everything is square and fold it for the last time. Cut the dough into 3 equal pieces the same direction as the fold.
Congratulations! You just made puff pastry.
This is a good stopping point if you don't have time to go on.
Puff pastry has a limited refrigerator life of about three days. After that, it can turn grayish, even though it will still taste fine. The gray color occurs when the flour is in contact with air and oxidizes. You can also freeze the dough for up to 3 weeks.
Step 4: Making Palmiers
You've got your puff pastry. Now, whip up one egg white and go get that sugar out of the cupboard and you're in business. You will need 60 grams of sugar, 2.4 oz.
One note about sugar, you want to use a course sugar like demerara or granulated. DO NOT use bakers, caster, or ultra-fine sugar. These sugars will absorb moisture too fast and turn to syrup before you can finish.
Fist things first, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. If you have a convection feature on your oven, even better.
Next, grab one of the three puff pastries you made. Guess what your going to do? That's right, you're going to roll it out......again. However, let it warm up for about 10 minutes. If you are starting from frozen puff pastry, put it in the fridge to thaw the night before you want to use it.
Once your dough has warmed up, start by making those impressions in the dough again. Then begin to roll the dough out until its about 12x18 inches in size and about 1/8 inches thick. Don't forget the flour and feathering. Once you reach your size, square off the edges if necessary.
Next, on a clean surface, sprinkle some sugar about the exact shape of your dough. Then take your dough and lay it on top of the sugar. Run your rolling pin over the dough to push the sugar into the dough. Next, sprinkle sugar on the top of the dough. Run your rolling pin over the dough again to press the sugar into the dough.
With your dough fully sugared, fold the long left side of the dough to the middle followed by the right side of the dough to the middle. Don't bring the two edges together, leave a slight gap to allow for a little puff. Run your rolling pin over the dough again to press the dough together, adding a little more sugar if you think it needs it.
Next, repeat the last step by bringing the left edge to the center and the right edge to the center. Again, leave a slight gap between the two. Using a pastry brush, brush off any loose sugar on the top of the dough, as much as will come of with the brush. You want good dough to dough contact for the next step. Run your rolling pin over the top one last time.
Now, take your egg white, whisked if you already haven't, and brush a small amount on the right side if the dough, not too much. You don't want it dripping. Consider this a glue for the dough. Next, fold the left side onto the right side with the egg whites. Do one last press with the rolling pin across the top to seal everything. Square the edges if needed by slicing a small piece from the ends, don't throw that piece away though.
Step 5: Cutting the Palmiers
Next you're going to cut the palmiers. To get the most expansion and rise from the dough, use a sharp knife or pizza cutter so the dough is cleanly cut and not smashed, which would keep the layers from rising evenly.
Cut the dough into 1/2 inch pieces and place them cut side up onto a parchment covered sheet pan. Spread them about 2 inches apart. You can fit about 12 per sheet pan, don't try to fit more.
Next, you are going to press on the palmiers just slightly to spread the layers. See the pictures for how they should look.
Step 6: Baking
It's time to bake.
Place a tray of palmiers in the oven and reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F. Bake 8-10 minutes or until the bottoms become caramelized.
Flip the palmiers over and bake until the new bottoms are caramelized and the dough is baked throughout, about 10 minutes.
Allow them to cool on a rack but remove them from the sheet while still warm.
Store them in an airtight container for up to 4 days, but I'm guessing they won't last that long.
*** Also, just as a side note, pets love these cookies***
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