[pinit] Oh stop it. They’re gluten free puff pastry cheese straws, and they’re so worth it! Look how pretty! And the gluten free puff pastry can be made ages ahead of time, so it’s just time it takes to transform it into these golden, cheesy, salty straws of love. No biggie! I want you to know that I nearly had a whole series of recipes in The New Bread Book on puff pastry, but I just couldn’t afford to pay for the days and days of photography and food styling necessary to walk you through the puff pastry step by step. Especially since we’ve already done that here on the blog. So … you get it here. Instead of there. But be sure to click through this puff pastry link, as all the step by step photos to make the pastry itself are there, and they’re really clear. I promise!
Just look! Light, flaky and airy, gluten free puff pastry cheese straws are exactly as good as you remember them from your free-wheeling gluteny days.
A word about the instructions. I give you length and width specs for the pastry as you work with it, but the most important detail, by far, is the thickness of the dough. You don’t need perfect rectangles, and they don’t need to be the dimensions I specify. Those are just a guide, and I hope that they give you the visual cues you need to make it all happen confidently. But really? The goal is to have puff pastry that is about 1/8-inch thick. That’s about the thickness of a nickel. And even though my rectangles look perfect in the photos, that’s because I write this blog. When I’m making these straws and it’s just for entertaining and no one is looking over my shoulder, my rectangles are FAR from perfecto. Okay? The instructions are specific, but that is just to hold your hand. They’re really just a framework. Working with puff pastry is all about architecture. Thickness matters the very mostest.
And these are the most gorgeous of my twists. Some of my twists were not nearly as twisty. And sometimes, they broke. Want to make your life a lot easier? Make the strips shorter by half before you twist them. They won’t break and you will keep your sanity. By the way, if you happen across my sanity, send it over to me. Deal? In exchange, ask all your puff pastry questions in the comments. I’ll answer them all to the best of my ability, and we’ll walk through this together.
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line large rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set them aside.
Divide the puff pastry in half, and reserve half for another use (wrap tightly and freeze, or refrigerate if plan to use it within the week). Divide the remaining half into three equal parts, about 4 ounces each. Place two of the three pieces of puff pastry in the refrigerator. Place the third piece of puff pastry on a well-floured flat and portable surface, and, flouring it as necessary to keep it from sticking, roll it into a rectangle that is about 1/8-inch thick (about the thickness of a nickel). The rectangle should be about 12-inches x 14-inches, but the thickness is much more important than the length and width. If the puff pastry becomes so soft that it begins to stick quite a lot, place it in the freezer for about 5 minutes before you continue working with it. Use a bench scraper to ensure that the bottom of the puff pastry is not sticking to the floured surface.
Using a pastry brush, brush about half of the puff pastry rectangle along the length with the egg wash very lightly. Sprinkle about 1/4 of the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on the other, bare half of the rectangle. Carefully fold the half with the egg wash up and over the half with the grated cheese, and press down gently to seal. You will now have a rectangle that is at least 1/4-inch thick, and about 6-inches x 14-inches. Sprinkle the rectangle lightly with more flour. Pressing very, very gently with the rolling pin, roll out the rectangle until it is a bit more than 1/8-inch thick, and approximately 9-inches wide. Again, if the puff pastry becomes so soft that it begins to stick quite a lot, place it in the freezer for about 5 minutes before you continue working with it.
Using a pastry brush, brush the entire top of the puff pastry rectangle with the egg wash very lightly. Sprinkle with an even but spare layer of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, coarse salt and poppy seeds. Cover with a sheet of unbleached parchment paper, and press down evenly but gently to help the toppings adhere to the pastry. Remove the parchment paper, and slice the pastry along the length with a pastry wheel or sharp knife (or even a pizza cutter) into 10 strips, each about 3/4-inch wide. Separate the strips and place, about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Again, if necessary, place the baking sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes until the pastry is firm enough to handle (but not brittle).
Holding the strips of pastry at each end, gently and carefully twist the strips into spirals. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the twists are very firm (between 5 and 10 minutes).* Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake (rotating once) until the straws are crisp, puffed and lightly brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of puff pastry.
*At this point, the straws can be wrapped and kept in the freezer for at least a month before baking directly from the frozen.