The Butter Block
1 lb + 3 1/2 T cold unsalted Butter
2 t Lemon Juice
Dash of Salt
1 c Bread Flour
3 c Bread Flour
3 1/2 T soft unsalted Butter
2 t Salt
1 c cold Water
Start the Butter Block
In a mixer w/ paddle attachment, work the butter lemon juice, salt, and flour into a smooth paste.
On a sheet of wax paper, roughly form a 6″ square with the butter block mixture. Lay another piece of wax paper on top and smooth out the square & straighten the sides. Keep a smooth, even surface of wax paper for it will wrinkle (peal and replace when necessary). After block’s thickness & sides are even, refrigerate until firm but not rock solid.
Start on the dough
Sift flour onto your work surface (ice on a countertop for 20 to 30 minutes can help) Pinch butter into chunks and place on top of flour. Continue pinching butter into flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Now shape it into a mound, then make a well in the center of the mound. Add the salt & cold water into the well, then with a fork, use a whisking motion to gradually incorporate the well’s sides into the water. When it starts to form a solid mass, finish incorporating the flour by kneading. Incorporate just until it is still sticky and has a rough texture. Adjust the water & flour as needed. Try to knead as little as possible.
Form dough into a ball, remember-knead as little as possible. Flatten the ball a bit, then cut a cross halfway through the dough. Wrap it up & let rest in fridge for 30 minutes.
Note: you don’t want the butter block to be rock hard. Also you don’t want it to be mushy. Firm and malleable is preferred
Now put it together
Pull the corners of the cuts out of the dough ball to make a square shape. Roll the dough out to a square slightly thicker in the center than on the sides, and slightly larger than the butter block.
Place the butter block diagonally on the dough square, so that the butter corners are pointed at the middle of the dough sides. Fold the uncovered dough corners over the butter block to completely envelop the butter. Pinch the seams tightly together to seal in the butter.
Dust your work surface with flour, and roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2″ thick. Remember to keep dusting with flour whenever needed to keep the dough from sticking & tearing the layers.
Size up your rectangle visually into 3. Fold one-third over the middle, then fold the opposite third over. Just like a tri-fold brochure. Try to have everything as even as possible. All the edges should match fairly closely. Put on a plate, cover with a damp (not saturated!) clean rag, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Roll out to 1/2″ thick and repeat the fold. Don’t forget to flour as you roll. Plate, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat this for a total five roll & folds.
FINALLY, after the last fold, roll the rectangle out to about 3/4″. If it is difficult, put dough in the fridge for a bit to relax the gluten. Cover, rest in fridge for about 30 minutes, then use as needed.
Now get to baking!