This recipe is from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine and is the classic French recipe for puff pastry dough.
A quick guide to classic French terms used in this recipe to help you throughout the process:
détrampe - a simple dough composed of flour, salt, water, and melted butter
beurrage - a block of butter
pâton - a package which results from folding the détrampe around the beurrage
Don't be intimidated by all the steps and French words! Though laborious to make, the end result is well worth it and far outshines store-bought varities in texture and mouth-feel. Once you learn to make this dough, you're poised to make a number of other French classics such as napoleans, palmiers, or tarts, not to mention a bevy of delicious appetizers, pastry items, and quiches!
To make the détrempe, sift the flour and salt together onto a clean, cool work surface. Using your fingertips, make a well in the center of the mound of flour. Run a finger through the center of the ring of flour to make a channel in the flour. Pour in the water and using your fingertips, work the water into the first ring of flour to make a paste.
And the melted butter and, using your fingertips and then a scraper, work the butter into the paste. When rough dough has formed, shape into a square block.
Using a scraper, cut an X in the top about halfway down the block. This will cut the gluten strands and help them to relax more quickly. Wrap the dough in plastic film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
The make the beurrage, remove the chilled butter from the refrigerator. Place it between two sheets of plastic film and, using a rolling pin, beat the butter to flatten it. The butter should become pliable without any lumps and should remain very cold. Form the butter into a square block.
Remove the détrampe from the refrigerator. Checks to make sure that both the détrempe and beurrage are as near the same consistency as possible. If not, return them both to the refrigerator until equal consistency is reached.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the détrempe to form a square just large enough to enclose the beurrage.
Lightly flour the work surface and, from this point, when rolling and turning the dough, make sure that the surface is coated with enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. The dough must never stick to the surface or it will not form proper layers.
Place the beurrage on top of the détrempe so that it looks like a diamond inside of a square. Fold the edges of the détrempe over the beurrage to enclose it and then pinch the dough together to lightly seal, forming a pâton.
Using a rolling pin, press the pâton about four or five times along its length or until it is about 23 centimeters (9 inches) long.
Dust the work surface with flour and roll the dough out to a piece about 56 centimeters (22 inches) long, keeping the sides even and square as you work. Roll only the length of the paton; do not roll the width.
Using a pastry brush, brush off excess flour and fold the dough into thirds. Again roll the dough to a piece about 56 centimeters (22 inches) long as above. You have rolled two turns. Using your fingertips, make two marks in the dough to indicate the two turns. Wrap the pâton in plastic film and refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes or until very cold.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap, and put in two additional turns as directed above. Using your fingertips, make four marks in the dough to indicate four turns. Again, wrap the pâton in plastic film and refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes or until very cold.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap, and put in two more turns as above. Then, either rewrap, refrigerate for 30 minutes, and proceed with your recipe, or wrap in freezer paper, date, and freeze until ready to use. Thaw before using.