Home made Puff Pastry From Scratch

Puff pastry has a reputation of being difficult and a lot of work to make from scratch. I had never attempted it before, but now that I have I thought it wasn’t so hard at all. The main point is temperature control, which is easier right now because it is winter and thus not warm in the house. Puff pastry puffs up because it has a lot of layers of flour and butter. In this recipe, there will be 256 layers! Temperature control is so important because the butter should be soft enough to be able to handle the dough, but not melted to keep the layers intact. This means that a cool room temperature of 18ºC/65ºF is ideal in your kitchen when you make this.

There are several reasons for making your own puff pastry rather than running to the store:

  1. Your own puff pastry will only contain flour, butter, water, and salt. Nothing else.
  2. You will have bragging rights.
  3. It will probably taste better (depending on the quality of the store-bought pastry).
  4. It is cheaper than store-bought.

Running to the store is faster (depending on where the store is), as making your own puff pastry does take about 4 hours. However, most of that time is inactive time with the dough resting in the fridge.
The keys to successful puff pastry are:

  • Use pastry flour (cake flour) with a low amount of gluten so the dough won’t be very elastic. This will make it easier to roll out the dough. Allowing the dough to rest also helps for this;
  • Wrap the dough well when you chill it in the refrigerator so it won’t dry out;
  • Don’t chill it too long between folds as that will make it difficult to roll out the dough.

Ingredients

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425 grams (2 2/3 cups) pastry flour

250 grams (2 1/4 stick) unsalted butter

250 ml (1 cup) cold water

8 grams (1 1/2 tsp) salt

Preparation

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Dissolve the salt in the water.

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Sift 350 grams of the flour (all but 1/2 cup) and put it in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Put it on low speed and slowly add the water.

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Process until the dough detaches from the sides of the bowl. Do not mix longer than necessary.

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Put the dough on a work surface sprinkled with flour. 

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Cover the dough with a dish towel and allow to rest in a cool place for half an hour.

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Meanwhile, cut the butter into cubes and put it in the bowl of the stand mixer with the remaining 75 grams (1/2 cup) flour.

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Process until mixed.

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Dust your hands and a piece of parchment paper with flour. Put the dough on the paper and shape it into a rectangle of about 1 cm (1/3 inch) thick with your hands. Wrap the dough in the parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up.

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After the first dough has rested for half an hour under the kitchen towel, transfer it to a wooden work surface that you sprinkled with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough.

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Roll out the dough into a rectangular shape of 50 cm (20 inches) long and 30 cm(12 inches) wide. Use the rolling pin also in a diagonal direction towards the corners to avoid ending up with a circle rather than a rectangle.

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Take the buttery dough out of the refrigerator, unwrap it and put it on the center of the dough you just rolled out.

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Fold the dough such that the buttery dough is completely wrapped.

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Lightly beat the wrapped butter with the rolling pin to loosen it up a little.

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Roll out to a rectangle of 50 cm (20 inches) by 30 cm (12 inches), again also using diagonal movements.

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Fold 1/4 of the dough from the left to the center, and 1/4 of the dough from the right to the center, leaving about 1 cm (1/2 inch) empty in between.

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Fold over the two halves. You have now completed the first fold.

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Wrap the dough in parchment paper or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

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After 30 minutes, unwrap the dough and put it on the floured work surface with the folds towards you.

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Roll it out again to a rectangle of 50 cm (20 inches) by 30 cm (12 inches).

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Fold it again in the same fashion, this is the second fold. Wrap carefully and refrigerate. Repeat for a third fold and a fourth fold.

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After the fourth fold, wrap again tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before using.

The puff pastry can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days, or in the freezer for months.

To use it, cut off what you need and roll it out until it is about 2 mm (1/12 inch) thick. Remember that it will become difficult to work with when it warms up above 16ºC/60ºF.

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22 thoughts on “Home made Puff Pastry From Scratch

  1. Very nice. Puff pastry needs 6 turns. You can put it in the freezer after 4 turns and when ready to use bring back to room temperature and make 2 more turns. It is a different way of making a classic puff pastry with butter but very nice. Cheers and enjoy you holidays with your family

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  2. I have actually had a few successful ‘go’s at this way back when I did more baking ~ found it quite a therapeutic exercise!! According to Jamie Oliver of course anyone going to all that trouble at home has too much time 😉 ! Don’t know about that!!!

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  3. I’m so glad you made this and that it went well! it isn’t that hard, but it does require patience and some careful handling of the dough to avoid ruptures. Can’t wait to see how you end up using the puff pastry. Hopefully you’ll blog about it!

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  4. Bravo, Stefan! This was on my to-do list for 2013. Looks like I missed that boat. Still, I will get to it. You seemingly have much better rolling skills than do I. My attempts at rolling out a pie crust, for example, would be laughable if they weren’t so frustrating. Even so, the only way to improve is with practice. i will give this a try and you’ll be the first to know when I do. Just don’t expect any news real soon. Remember, I’m already a year late. 🙂

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    1. It was also on my to-do list, so this was just in time!
      I was surprised how easy it was to roll this pastry as compared to pie crust pastry — that always tears or keeps bouncing back or doesn’t take the shape I want it to. That is why I was so surprised that this was so much easier. Now I want to try croissants as well 🙂

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  5. Brilliant instructions as always, thank you. I made some during a cooking class … way back in 2002! and only once after that. But we didn’t use a mixer, it was all done by hand. I remember being given the advice to start with about 1kg of flour … if you are going to go to the trouble of making puff pastry … you may as well make lots of it!

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    1. The mixer helps because it keeps the dough cooler, and because you don’t get frustrated from dough sticking to your hands 😉
      Now that I know I can do it, I will probably make more next time.

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  6. Many, many years ago I made puff pastry. I will never do it again. It was a righteous pain and I have what bakers call “hot hands.” As such, anything with lots of butter, lard, etc. that requires hand working and relatively cool temps is very difficult for me. I have to use a pastry cutter instead of my hands to do pie crusts, shortbreads and other cookies and pastries. This is one of the reasons I don’t do a lot of pastries on the blog or real life. When I need puff pastry, I just spend the extra money and buy it. I am impressed, however, that you undertook this challenge and it looked beautiful with the beef wellington. Kudos to you. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Richard. I don’t like dealing with any type of dough with my hands because it always sticks and I get very frustrated (especially when trying to take photos of the proceedings as well). The beauty of using the stand mixer and rolling pin is that in this method I hardly had to touch the dough at all, so hot hands are not an issue.

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