Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Nov 9, 2011 08:14 AM

pastry dough help (beef wellington)

Any pastry experts out there?

I made beef wellington for the first time this weekend. All the components were working out nicely, except the pastry dough. It was goop, and I couldn't even roll lit. Please tell me what I did wrong. I was following the Joy of Cooking recipe for beef wellington, which suggested, for the pastry, to use the Joy of Cooking recipe for Brioche. I will list the ingredients here, and what I did (following the recipe). I have made bread before, successfully, so I'm not a complete novice when it comes to yeast.

1/2 c warm (105 - 115) milk (I did this right, I have a thermometer)
1 package active dry yeast

1 c all purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 T sugar
1 t salt

mix, then stir in
1 c all purpose flour

knead, I followed all directions here, knead for 10 min in mixer. And here the recipe does say, it's a "rather sticky dough".
add 3/4 c unsalted butter, softened.
knead in mixer until butter is incorporated.,

At this point, this dough is really goopy. ok put it in a bowl, cover, in warm place ( I have an oven with a Proof setting) 1 1/2 hours.
punch dough, knead briefly, refrigerate, covered, for 4 to 12 hours. I wanted to use this that day, so I only had it in the frig for 4 hours.
Then recipe says, "if it has not yet doubled, let it finish rising in a warm place, then punch it down, refrigerate for 30 minutes, and shape." I did not do this. When I took it out of the frig after 4 hours, it had risen, maybe not doubled, but it was close.

At this point, I took it out of the bowl, and it held together at first. But when I started rolling it out, immediately after taking it out of the frig, it turned to goop. I couldn't even get it off the counter or the parchment paper.

Should I have let it risen more? It was so goopy, I can't imagine that's what I did wrong, but maybe that's all it takes for dough to be useless.

Or perhaps you have tips for me to roll out brioche dough, if you've worked with pastry dough a lot.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I go by feel. Depending on the current moisture content of the flour, and humidity in your kitchen, the results will differ. Many folks weigh their ingredients. I just add more flour if it's goopy.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wyogal

      at which point should I have added more flour? at the end when I was about to try to roll it out?
      I did weigh my ingredients.

    2. The factor that I find most disturbing about the recipe you posted is that it uses bulk measurements for ingredients rather than weights. A "cup" of flour can vary quite dramatically depending on what type of measuring device is used, how the device itself is used, etc. I've seen variations as wide at 25% using bulk measurement. I'd recommend that you gGet yourself a scale and a recipe that relies on weights and bakers percentages (example: as a means of solving your problem.
      I realize that preparing a dough for beef wellington garners a broader range of compliments, but IMO it's not worth the time and effort. A package of commercial puff pastry dough does the job.

      1 Reply
      1. re: todao

        agreed. That's what I would do. Unless I have the beef, not the dough and don't want to run back out to the store.
        I would use a non-yeast, pastry dough, puff pastry. It's not hard, if you have the time to chill, fold, roll throughout the day. I've even done it with some rolled up pie crusts I got on sale. I unrolled them, put some softened butter on one, topped with the other. Did a couple of folds, refrigerated it. Roll it out, repeat folding, chilling. Roll out and use as a purchased puff pastry sheet.

        Adding flour to a dough- pretty much any point along the way when you find your dough too gloppy. Or when rolling out.

      2. Sounds like the dough needed more flour as already stated.
        The best time to incorporate the flour is in the first mixing.
        You can also be quite generous with the flour when you are rolling out your dough and keep it cold, especially with such a rich dough. I often chill it in the freezer till quite cold and always before wrapping anything in it.
        When making Wellington I make large Crepes and lay them over the dough(especially when using puff) which protects the dough from becoming soggy from the Duxelles while baking.

        1. I'm confused. Isn't beef wellington traditionally made w/ puff pastry? Why would you use a brioche dough?

          7 Replies
          1. re: danna

            That's what I was thinking, too. I'd go w/ todao's suggestion of buying puff pastry.

            As brioche goes, as chefj said, it seems high in eggs and water for two cups of flour. The dough should be sticky but not gloppy. It should hold its form.

            1. re: danna

              The Joy of Cooking recipe for beef wellington gave 3 choices for the pastry part. Brioche dough (they have a recipe), or food processor puff pastry dough (the book had a recipe for this too), or a 14 x 10 inch sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed and softened.

              I just picked Brioche, for no reason, just because. I had no idea what I was in for.

              1. re: tazochai

                Well, at least you got the experience. There are typically three varieties of Brioche (rich mans, middle class and poor man's. It appears you got hold of the middle class version. If you still want to work with that recipe, you might want to try reducing the butter to 1/4 to 1/3 cup.

                1. re: tazochai

                  If you live near a Trader Joe's, they carry an artisan puff pastry (this time of year only) that works well and is fairly inexpensive. The ingredients in it are flour, butter, yeast, sugar and water, iirc, so similar to what you'd use at home.

                  1. re: tazochai

                    Hmmm. I'm no beef wellington scholar, minc you. I made it once...that was enough for this lifetime, but it was wonderful. I don't know how familiar you are w/ brioche, but it's like a buttery, eggy cross between bread and cake. I have a hard time picturing beef enveloped in a muffin, although it sounds tasty if you could pull it off. I'm sure the Jof C people are so much more advanced...maybe too advanced for us mortals.

                    I made my puff pastry from scratch, I'm glad I did it because it was a learning experience, but I have never made it again either.

                    What did you wind up doing? was the bw a success anyway?

                    1. re: danna

                      Here's a pic of it in the oven when it went in. I was too distraught to bother taking it back out of the oven to get a picture when I realized I hadn't taken one yet... I just slopped the duxelles/chicken liver mousse combo on, and then piled the goop on top.

                      The good news is I cooked the meat perfectly. The gravy wasn't very good though. I don't think I boiled off enough of the wine. (Made the red wine and marrow recipe from JofC too). So the only good products at the end of the day were a chicken liver mousse my boyfriend loves on crackers (ick) and the meat.

                      I will add more flour next time. Thank you for all the replies. Actually, next time, I'll just use a frozen puff pastry product

                      1. re: tazochai

                        that's a pretty funny pic, but it looks like it would come out of the oven a delicious, decadent mess ! if the meat cooked perfectly, and the duxelles /chicken liver was's a home run in my book.

                        You've made me tempted to try another one. husband claims not to like chicken liver, but I might test him. Cheers!

                2. Any time dough is too wet, add more flour.