- 250g strong plain flour
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 250g butter, at room temperature, but not soft
- about 150ml cold water
Directions to make the Puff pastry
- Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Roughly break the butter in small chunks, add them to the bowl and rub them in loosely. You need to see bits of butter.
- Make a well in the bowl and pour in about two-thirds of the cold water, mixing until you have a firm rough dough adding extra water if needed. Cover with cling film and leave to rest for 20 mins in the fridge.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured board, knead gently and form into a smooth rectangle. Roll the dough in one direction only, until 3 times the width, about 20 x 50cm. Keep edges straight and even. Don’t overwork the butter streaks; you should have a marbled effect.
- Fold the top third down to the centre, then the bottom third up and over that. Give the dough a quarter turn (to the left or right) and roll out again to three times the length. Fold as before, cover with cling film and chill for at least 20 mins before rolling to use.
Recipe from Good Food magazine, March 2005
See the video
In baking, a puff pastry is a light, flaky, leavened pastry containing several layers of fat which is in solid state at 20 °C (68 °F). In raw form, puff pastry is a dough which is spread with solid fat and repeatedly folded and rolled out (never mashed, as this will destroy layering) and used to produce the aforementioned pastries. It is sometimes called a “water dough” or détrempe.
The gaps that form between the layers are a result of the puff pastry rising as the water evaporates into steam during the baking process. Piercing the dough will prevent excessive puffing, and crimping along the sides will prevent the layers from flaking all of the way to the edges.
Spanish pastry in Madrid
Rustico leccese. Puff pastry filled with mozzarella, béchamel, tomato, pepper and nutmeg
Puff pastry seems to be a relative of the Middle Eastern phyllo, and is used in a similar manner to create layered pastries. While traditionally ascribed to the French painter and cookClaude Gelée who lived in the 17th century (the story goes that Gelée was making a type of very buttery bread for his sick father, and the process of rolling the butter into the bread dough created a croissant-like finished product), references appear before the 17th century, indicating a history that came originally through Muslim Spain and was converted from thin sheets of dough spread with olive oil to laminated dough with layers of butter, perhaps in Italy or Germany.
A palmier, or “palm leaf”, design
The production of puff pastry dough can be time-consuming, because it must be kept at a temperature of approximately 16 °C (60 °F) to keep shortening from becoming runny, and must rest in between folds to allow gluten strands time to link up and thus retain layering.
The number of layers in puff pastry is calculated with the equation:
l=(f + 1) ⁿ
where l is the number of finished layers, f the number of folds, and n the number of times the dough has been folded.
Example: twice-folding (i.e. in three) for four times gives (2 + 1)⁴ = 81 layers. Chef Julia Child recommends 73 layers for regular pâte feuilletée and 730 layers for pâte feuilletée fine (in Volume II of her Mastering the Art of French Cooking textbook).
Commercially made puff pastry is available in grocery stores. Common types of fat used include butter, vegetable shortenings, and lard. Butter is the most common type used because it provides a richer taste and superior mouthfeel. Since shortenings and lard have a higher melting point, puff pastry made with either will rise more than pastry made with butter if made correctly; however it will often have a waxy mouthfeel and a more bland flavor.
Puff pastry is not the same as phyllo (filo) pastry, although puff pastry can be substituted for phyllo in some applications. Phyllo dough is made with flour, water, and fat and is stretched to size rather than rolled. Usually when using phyllo dough, a small amount of oil or melted fat (usually butter) is brushed on one layer of phyllo dough and is topped with another layer. This process can be repeated as many times as desired. When it bakes, it becomes crispy but, since it contains somewhat less water, does not expand to the same degree as puff pastry does.
Nor is puff pastry the same as Austrian strudel dough, or Strudelteig. Strudel dough is more like the phyllo described above.
Puff pastry can also be leavened with baker’s yeast to create croissants or Danish pastry or Spanish/Portuguese milhoja and empanadilla, though such doughs are not universally known as puff pastries.
In addition, since the process of making puff pastry is generally somewhat laborious and quite time-intensive, faster recipes (known as “blitz”, “rough puff”, or “Flaky pastry”) are fairly common. Many of these recipes combine the butter into the détrempe rather than adding it in the folding process and are thus similar to a folded short crust.
Quick Puff Pastry
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/4 cup shortening, frozen and cut into small pieces
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Portion size1 lb (500 g)
1 cup (250 mL) cold unsalted butter
1-2/3 cups (400 mL) all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt
1/3 cup (75 mL) cold water
Cut butter into 1/2-inch (1 cm) cubes; set aside 3/4 cup (175 mL) in refrigerator. In food processor, blend flour with salt. Sprinkle remaining butter over top; pulse until indistinguishable, about 10 seconds. Sprinkle with reserved butter; pulse 4 or 5 times to cut into pea-size pieces.
Pour water evenly over mixture (not through feed tube). Pulse 6 to 8 times until loose ragged dough forms (do not let form ball). Transfer to floured waxed paper; gather and press into rectangle. Dust with flour; top with waxed paper. Roll out into 15- x 12-inch (38 x 30 cm) rectangle.
Remove top paper. Starting at long edge and using bottom paper to lift pastry, fold over one-third; fold opposite long edge over top, bringing flush with edge of first fold to make 15- x 4-inch (38 x 10 cm) rectangle. Starting from 1 short end, roll up firmly; flatten into 5-inch (12 cm) square. Wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.)
Additional information : Variation
Quick Herb Puff Pastry: After rolling out into 15- x 12-inch (38 x 30 cm) rectangle, sprinkle all over with 2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh parsley and 1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh thyme. Continue with recipe.