Fast and Easy Puff Pastry


FAST AND EASY PUFF PASTRY Read 38 reviews
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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Preparation

  1. Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  2. Add the butter, working it in to make a coarse/crumbly mixture. Leave most of the butter in large, pea-sized pieces.
  3. 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.
  4. Pat the dough into a rough log, and roll it into an 8″ x 10″ rectangle.
  5. Dust both sides of the dough with flour, and starting with a shorter end, fold it in three like a business letter.
  6. 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.
  7. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before using.
  8. To make pastry, roll into desired size.
  9. Freeze dough for prolonged storage, up to 2 months. To use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
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Food Processor Quick Puff Pastry


Leave the frozen stuff on the shelf — chef Nick Malgieri’s fresh puff pastry pastry recipe is tasty and easy to make in your food processor. It appears in his cookbook “Bake! Essential Techniques for Perfect Baking.”  Watch the video.

  • 1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup cold water
  1. Cut 1 cup (2 sticks) butter into ¼-inch cubes. Place in an even layer on a plate and transfer to refrigerator to chill.
  2. Place flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Cut remaining ¼ cup (½ stick) butter into thin slices and add to food processor; pulse to combine. Add 1 cup chilled butter; pulse 3 times, 1 second each pulse. Add half of the water and pulse once; add remaining water and pulse twice. Dough will not form a ball.
  3. Remove blade from processor by lifting up with the handle. Scrape dough from bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour dough and, using your hands, squeeze and shape dough into a cylinder. Press down to flatten into a rectangle.
  4. Starting at the narrow end furthest away from you, use a rolling pin to press the dough firmly in parallel strokes close to one another. If there are sticky pieces of butter on the surface, cover with a large pinch of flour and press with the rolling pin to combine. Clean off the rolling pin as you go to make sure nothing sticks to the dough. Continue pressing with the rolling pin, working towards the narrow end closest to you.
  5. Roll dough into a 10-inch-by-20-inch rectangle. Fold the 10-inch ends over the middle (like a letter) to make three layers. Position one of the (about) 6-inch ends to face you and roll up dough like a jelly roll. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface, seam-side down. Sprinkle top of dough lightly with flour and press down using your hand to form a rectangle.
  6. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days before using.

Makes about 1½ pounds dough.

Quick Puff Pastry


Use pastry chef Nick Malgieri’s easy puff pastry recipe  from his cookbook “Bake! Essential Techniques for Perfect Baking.”

  • 1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup cold water
  1. Cut 1 cup (2 sticks) butter into ¼-inch cubes. Place in an even layer on a plate and transfer to refrigerator to chill.
  2. Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl. Cut remaining ¼ cup (½ stick) butter into thin slices and add to bowl. Rub in the butter, squeezing it with your fingertips, rubbing the butter and flour mixture between the palms of your hands and reaching down to the bottom of the bowl. Repeat process until flour and butter are evenly mixed; this should only take a couple of minutes and the mixture should remaining cool and powdery. Alternatively, pulse flour, salt, and ¼ cup (½ stick) butter in the bowl of a food processor until no visible pieces of butter remain; transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Add chilled butter cubes to bowl and using a rubber spatula, fold them into flour mixture.
  4. Reserving 2 tablespoons of the cold water, pour remaining water into bowl. Using a spatula, fold water into flour mixture, scraping from the bottom of the bowl upward. If the mixture still has a lot of dry, unmoistened flour, add reserved water, 1 tablespoon at a time, repeating folding process.
  5. Scrape dough from bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour dough and, using your hands, squeeze and shape dough into a cylinder. Press down to flatten into a rectangle.
  6. Starting at the narrow end furthest away from you, use a rolling pin to press the dough firmly in parallel strokes close to one another. If there are sticky pieces of butter on the surface, cover with a large pinch of flour and press with the rolling pin to combine. Clean off the rolling pin as you go to make sure nothing sticks to the dough. Continue pressing with the rolling pin, working towards the narrow end closest to you.
  7. Press the dough once along the width; it should now be a rectangle about ½ inch thick. Flour under and on top of the dough and roll dough away and back toward you in the length and once in the width, without rolling over the ends, to make a rectangle about 18 inches long and 8 inches wide.
  8. Fold the two 8-inch ends in toward the middle of the rectangle, leaving a 1-inch space in the middle. Fold the bottom up to the top to form 4 layers of dough. Turn the dough so that the folded edge, which should resemble the spine on a book, is on your left.
  9. Repeat rolling and folding process [steps 6, 7, and 8] two more times. Wrap dough and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, and up to 3 days, before using.

Makes about 1½ pounds dough.

Rough Puff Pastry


Use this great recipe for rough puff pastry to make Olive Straws.

  • 1 pound 2 ounces all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1 pound 2 ounces very cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup ice-cold water
  1. Mound flour in center of a large work surface, and make a well in the middle; place butter and salt in well.
  2. Using your fingertips, mix ingredients together in the well. Using the fingertips of your other hand, slowly incorporate flour, beginning with inner rim of well. When cubes of butter have become small pieces and dough is grainy, gradually add ice water until fully incorporated, taking care not to overwork the dough. Roll dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough into a 16-by-8-inch rectangle. Fold the short ends over the middle (like a letter) to make three layers. This is called the first turn.
  4. Give the dough a quarter turn and roll away from you into another 16-by-8-inch rectangle. Fold again into 3 layers; this is called the second turn. Wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Repeat process in steps 3 and 4 to create the third and fourth turns. Wrap dough in plastic; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up to 3 days, before using. Dough may also be kept, frozen, for up to 4 months.

Makes 2 pounds, 10 ounces.

Fast and Easy Puff Pastry


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.

  • 1½ cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt*
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter,* cut in pats
  • ½ cup sour cream

*If you use salted butter, reduce the amount of salt to ¼ teaspoon

you use salted butter, reduce the amount of salt to ¼ teaspoon

  1. Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  2. Add the butter, working it in to make a coarse/crumbly mixture. Leave most of the butter in large, pea-sized pieces.
  3. 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.
  4. Pat the dough into a rough log, and roll it into an 8-inch-by-10-inch rectangle.
  5. Dust both sides of the dough with flour, and starting with a shorter end, fold it in three like a business letter.
  6. Flip the dough over, give it a 90° turn on your work surface, and roll it into an 8-inch-by-10-inch rectangle. Fold it in three again.
  7. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before using. To make pastry, roll into desired size.
  8. Freeze dough for prolonged storage, up to 2 months. To use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Yield: 1 generous pound puff pastry, enough to roll into a 12-inch-by-24-inch rectangle

Classic Puff Pastry Pate Feuilletee


The French call it “pate feuilletee,” which means “pastry made leaf-like.” In fact, it has so many “leaves” that it is also called “millefeuille,” meaning a thousand leaves. Each of these “leaves” consists of a layer of flour separated by a layer of butter. The expansion (puff) occurs because the butter layers create steam when exposed to the heat of an oven. This expands the space between the flour layers. Ultimately, in classic puff pastry, you want to create 729 layers of folded dough, not quite one thousand, but like the millipede which really doesn’t have a thousand legs, the effect is there.

Before you embark on this adventure, here is something to keep in mind. You want everything (including yourself) to stay cool. Your goal is to create distinct layers of butter and flour, so you don’t want the butter to melt. If you have any suspicion that the butter is too soft (oozing or breaking through the layers), refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to firm it up. Just stay relaxed, cool, and enjoy the process.

  • 4 cups (17 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour OR 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour and 1 cup unbleached pastry flour OR 3½ cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour and ½ cup cornstarch*
  • 2 cups (4 sticks, 1 pound) unsalted butter, ½ stick chilled, the rest at room temperature
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt (1 for sweet pastry, 2 for savory)
  • 1¼ cups (10 ounces) cold water (use more if necessary, a tablespoon at a time); you can also substitute 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for 1 of water if you wish to further temper the gluten in the flour

*Unlike wheat flour, cornstarch has no gluten in it. It can be used in combination with a strong (high gluten) wheat flour like King Arthur Flour to reduce the percentage of gluten in the whole. When this is made into a dough or pastry, you’ll have the integrity and strength of the original flour as well as the tenderness made possible by the cornstarch.

Making the Dough:

  1. Measure the flour(s) into a mixing bowl. Remove ½ cup and set it aside in another bowl.
  2. Take the half stick of chilled butter, cut it into small pieces and drop it into the flour. With two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips, cut or rub the butter into the flour until it resembles cornmeal.
  3. Add the salt (and optional lemon juice) to the water and add this to the flour. Mix gently with a fork until you have a rough dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If you need to add more water, do it a tablespoon at a time, until the dough holds together.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth and the gluten has been somewhat developed, about 2 or 3 minutes. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preparing The Butter:

  1. Take the remainder of the butter and the reserved flour and mix the two together until they’re well blended and smooth. You can do this with a mixer, a food processor or with a spoon, by hand.
  1. Pat this butter/flour mixture into an 8-inch square on a lightly floured piece of waxed paper. Cover it with second sheet of waxed paper and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. By mixing the butter with flour, you stabilize it somewhat so it won’t decide to “flow.”

Rolling & Folding:

  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and put it on a lightly floured surface. Gently roll it into a square about 12 inches on a side. You don’t have to be obsessive about the dimensions but be pretty close.
  2. Put the butter square in the center of the dough square but turn it so that the corners of the butter square point toward the sides of the dough square. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter until they meet in the middle. Pinch and seal the edges of the dough together.
  3. Turn the square over and tap it gently with your rolling pin or by hand into a rectangular shape. (Make sure everything is still completely, but lightly, floured.) Begin rolling the dough from the center, away from and towards you, into a larger rectangle 20 inches long and 10 inches wide.
  4. As you work, keep the dough, the table and the rolling pin well dusted with flour. Although the dough will absorb some of the flour, it is relatively soft to begin with so the dusting flour isn’t enough to worry about.
  5. Turn the dough over from time to time. As you roll you tend to expand the top layers more than the bottom. By turning it, you’ll even it out.
  6. When the dough is the right size, brush any excess flour off the top, and fold the bottom third of the dough up to the center and the top third over (like a business letter). Line the corners up as neatly as you can; dab them with a little water to help them stick together if necessary, and turn the dough package ¼ turn to the right so it looks like a book ready to be opened. If the dough is still nice and cold and still relaxed, do another rolling and turning the same way. (If it begins to feel too soft or wants to resist being rolled, cover it, put it on a small baking sheet and refrigerate it for 15 minutes to chill and relax.)
  7. If you’ve successfully rolled it out and folded it twice, you’ve completed two turns. Classic puff pastry gets six. Continue refrigerating it after each two turns (or more often if necessary) until all six turns are completed.
  8. Make a checklist somewhere so you know how many turns or layers you’ve made. Bakers commonly put fingerprints in a corner of the pastry to indicate the numbers of turns. If you try this, be careful you don’t break through with your fingernails, since the layers are very thin.
  9. An alternate way of rolling and folding, which is both more and less demanding, is to make a turn every 15 minutes. This means that you will have to be more attentive to the dough, but the dough, because it has a chance to rest after each turn, will be nice and relaxed for the next rolling.

The Big Chill:

When all six turns are done, put the dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour (and preferably overnight) before shaping. Like other pastry doughs, you can freeze puff pastry in a non-self-defrosting freezer for up to a year if it’s well wrapped. It can also be frozen at any time during the rolling, folding, turning process. Defrost it thoroughly before you use it, but just make sure it doesn’t get too soft.