Easy Pastry Dough

This year I took it on myself to create the best and easiest pastry dough. After several attempts that yielded mediocre to disastrous results, I finally reach a recipe that I'm very happy with. I managed to create a soft, airy, and aromatic dough, which is low-fat and versatile: you can use it to make cinnamon rolls, babka cake, doughnuts, dinner rolls, challa bread, and pizza* without messing up your kitchen too much. In this post I will demonstrate how to use this dough to make my favorite chocolate rolls.

Before I get to the recipe I would like to share here a word of advice: Make pastry dough only if you are really in to it. If you are looking for a quicky this baby is not for you! This dough needs to feel a lot of love and to be given all the time it needs to get to its peak ;) It is very sensitive to emotions. Over the years I have found that I can cook and bake different cakes and cookies  with reasonable results, whether I felt like being in the kitchen or not. Pastry dough, on the other hand, absorbs energies and reacts accordingly. There is a local bakery where we love to get our pastries from, and when the baker is not in a good mood - her pastries reflect it. Such was the case with the pastries we bought on the Friday that followed Thanksgiving. It was obvious that the baker was not happy to be back at work after the holiday. 

This concept of food absorbing the energy and emotions of the maker is not a new concept. In some cultures women refrain from baking during their menstruation time, in other cultures people check with the moon for the right days to bake. The movie Like Water for Chocolate used this concept to create a beautiful and sensual story about food and passion. In this movie the heroine, Tita, transfers the feelings she has while cooking, to the people who eat her food. 

Pastry Dough Recipe

4 cups flour
1 tbsp dry yeast
½ tsp salt*
2 eggs
½ cup oil**
¼ cup maple syrup*
1 tsp vanilla extract*
2 cups lukewarm water

*If you intend to make pizza from this dough omit vanilla extract from the recipe, reduce maple syrup to 1 tbsp, and add another 1 tsp of salt.
** Avoid using olive or sesame oil if you intend to make sweet pastries from this dough. Olive oil and sesame oil have a strong dominate flavor, howeer, they are ok to use if you make a pizza dough. For  sweet pastries use oils such as  almond, walnut, or canola if you insist. 

Place all ingredients in a blender with a pastry hook and mix just until all ingredients are blended.  The mixture is going to be very liquidy.  

Remove the pastry hook from the blender, clean it, and leave on the counter for the second blending.
Leave the dough in the blender bowl and cover the top with plastic wrap. 

Let dough rest for about 2 hours at room temperature. If you live in a hot climate, one hour might be enough for the dough to rise and double its volume. 

After 2 hours remove plastic wrap from the dough. At this stage the dough is still very sticky. Place pastry hook back in the blender and mix the dough for 5 minutes on medium speed. During this process, the released gluten will create a smooth and manageable dough. 

When done, remove the hook from the blender and cover the dough with a clean plastic wrap. Let sit for another 2 hours. 

By now the dough is ready for you to do whatever you wish to do with it. 

To process the dough you will need some flour, in order to avoid stickiness, or use oil if you want to make smooth doughnuts (raw flour will burn in the oil). 

Whatever you choose to make with this dough, once you have created the shape with your desired  filling or topping, let the dough rise again for 20 minutes before you place it in the oven or in a deep frying pan.

Chocolate rolls

Pastry dough
 20oz/600gr jam or fruit spread (2 jars)
1 cup cocoa mix, or mix together  ½ cup cocoa mixed + ½ cup sugar.
1 egg
2 tbsp maple sugar/ sesame seeds/ poppy seeds for d├ęcor (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F/180c

Use half of the dough, flour it and flatten in to a ½”/1cm thick rectangular sheet. Too thin of a layer will tear in the oven (as you will see in my photo at the bottom of the post).

Spread the content of 1 jar of jam or fruit spread on the dough (I used blueberry spread).

Use a small colander to sprinkle  ½ cup cocoa mix on top.

Roll the dough, folding the longer side in.

Place in a long baking sheet, cover with egg wash, sprinkle desired topping, and create a few slits along the width of the roll.

Repeat the process with the second half of the dough. 

Let rolls sit in room temperature for 20 minutes before baking.
Bake at 350F/180c for 25 minutes. 

Let cool for 20 minutes before cutting.

When the rolls are cooler, you can freeze parts of them; Just wrap with aluminum foil and place in a freezer Ziploc bag. This way you will have fresh chocolate pastry anytime you wish, just warm up and serve.