Wonderfully flaky, buttery, tender pastries, turnovers, cheese straws, elephant ears (palmiers), shells for savory fillings, and more can be yours with a minimum of effort.
Since this pastry uses only a few ingredients, it’s important to make those ingredients top-quality. We recommend Vermont’s Cabot unsalted butter and sour cream, both of which are available nationally.
The trick to the recipe is to leave your butter in very large chunks. You should have some dry spots and some large pieces of butter. They’ll likely look too big the first time you try it, but these chunks get distributed as you fold the dough, giving the final pastry a layered puff. The recipe also relies on the help of baking powder to add to the rise.
Classic puff pastry relies on many more layers to create an ethereal flakiness to the dough. By cutting corners and making fewer layers, you’ll get close to the same result. It’s not quite as flaky as classic puff pastry, but it’s pretty darn close.
Be sure to use very cold butter. Chilling ensures that the butter won’t soften and melt, making a homogeneous (and therefore dense) dough.
Once you master this simple recipe, the (party) possibilities are endless. I suggest making a double batch and keeping some on hand in the freezer for last-minute entertaining.
- 241g King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt*
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 227g cold unsalted butter,* cut in pats
- 113g sour cream
*If you use salted butter, reduce the amount of salt to 1/4 teaspoon
- Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
- Add the butter, working it in to make a coarse/crumbly mixture. Leave most of the butter in large, pea-sized pieces.
- Stir in the sour cream; the dough won’t be cohesive. Turn it out onto a floured work surface, and bring it together with a few quick kneads.
- Pat the dough into a rough log, and roll it into an 8″ x 10″ rectangle.
- Dust both sides of the dough with flour, and starting with a shorter end, fold it in three like a business letter.
- Flip the dough over, give it a 90° turn on your work surface, and roll it into an 8″ x 10″ rectangle. Fold it in three again.
- Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before using.
- To make pastry, roll into desired size.
- Freeze dough for prolonged storage, up to 2 months. To use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.