“Such is the laborious nature of making puff pastry from scratch, Mary Berry admits that even she and Paul Hollywood opt for the ready-made version. But that did not stop the two Great British Bake Off judges setting it as a challenge on last night’s show – with disastrous results. Viewers saw several of the remaining contestants buckle under the pressure when asked to bake 48 filled vol-au-vents using puff pastry they had made themselves.” Many struggled to get to grips with the notoriously tricky technique, which requires rolling thin buttery layers and then having enough patience to chill the dough.”
Allow me to let you into a secret, as a former pastry chef myself (City & Guilds 706/3 thank you very much) who has worked in two top London restaurants, chefs very rarely make it either. There’s just no point, it’s a pain in the butt, and the bought stuff (presumably made by some sort of rolling and pressing machine) is more even than even the best chef can make it without a lot of time going “spare.” Time, which is needed elsewhere making mousses or syllabubs or gateaus or whatever. I’ve worked in restaurants, hotels, airline catering, pub kitchens and all sorts and I’ve never ever seen anyone make puff pastry.
However, the point of the Great British Bake Off is to set challenges for the budding bakers so yes it was a suitable “challenge.” Have I made puff pastry? Sure, in Catering college over 30 years ago, probably the one and only time and I can’t imagine bothering to make it again, too much effort for too little reward.