Do you love the light, flaky buttery layers of puff pastry? Here is a step by step tutorial with a few shortcuts on how to recreate this versatile pastry in your own kitchen . . .
Homemade puff pastry is often avoided by novice cooks for a number of reasons, it’s time-consuming, it can be tricky, and compared to most recipes, it’s labor-intensive. The dough is much like a pie crust, except that it only contains 3 ingredients with no leavening. A true puff pastry has over 700 layers, which are created when the dough is repeatedly rolled and folded.
When it bakes, the tiny bits of butter that have been distributed through the dough melt and then boils, creating a tiny steam pocket that lifts the layers higher and higher. While it’s lifting into poofs of light buttery goodness, the flour within the layer is hardening around each of those little air pockets, creating the light, flaky pastry.
If prepared correctly, the puff pastry will expand about 6-8 times it’s (pre-baked) height.
Before you begin, here are a couple of tips to ensure your success:
- ALWAYS use COLD Butter
- Always use COLD Water
- Do Not attempt to make this in overly Warm room- if the butter melts prematurely, you will end up with a soggy dough that does not “puff”.
- a “Pulse” is 2 Seconds Long, at MOSTIf you follow those 4 little tips, chances are your pastry will be light, flaky and delicious.
How to Make Homemade Puff Pastry
2 cups Pastry Flour, sifted
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 1/2 sticks of Cold Salted Butter (NOT Margarine, actual BUTTER)
3/4 cup Ice Cold Water
Cut 2 sticks Butter into 1/4″ mini cubes.
The easiest way to do this is to slice the stick into 4 long layers, lay them down sideways and cut them again. Place the cubes in a shallow bowl and refrigerate until needed.
Now, slice the remaining half a stick of butter into 1/4″ thin slices. Measure the flour into a food processor, add the 1/2 stick butter slices and pulse briefly (2 seconds, that’s it!), then pulse again (2 seconds).
Add the remaining butter cubes from the fridge, pulse again. Pour in the water, pulse. At this point, the dough should NOT be formed into any type of shape whatsoever.
Overturn the dough onto a very lightly flour-dusted surface and knead it gently to form a ball.
Roll the dough out in 1 direction (only!) until it forms a smooth rectangle.
Fold it into thirds, much like you would a business letter. Give the dough a quarter turn and roll it out again to three times its original length. Fold into thirds, cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill for 25-30 minutes. (Do Not Skip this Step) The resting period is to give the flour time to form gluten properly.
Remove from the fridge, unwrap the dough and place the seam side away from you. Roll it out in the same manner as you did the first time. Fold it into thirds, turn the entire folded dough 1/4 turn and repeat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill for 25-30 minutes.
Repeat this process 4 more times.
The final dough can be vacuum sealed and frozen for up to 6 months until needed.
Following Freezing: the dough should be placed in the refrigerator overnight to thaw and should NOT be left on the counter to thaw.
How to Make the Pastry Without a Food Processor:
Instead of a food processor, use a pastry blender to cut in the butter by hand. Then, when adding the cold water, just make a well in the middle of the butter/flour mixture, add the water, mix by hand to make a firm dough. Ensure that the butter stays cold if the dough seems to warm, stop, cover it and refrigerate until it is cold. You don’t want the butter to melt, the dough should have a marbled appearance.
Now for the Budget101 Breakdown
- Flour – $1.84 bag (5#lb bag =20 cups)= .09 per cup = 18¢
- Salt . . . negligible 01¢
- Butter $1.99 lb (purchased on sale) = .49 stick = $1.23
Total for 1 pound of Puff Pastry = $1.42
Total Cost for a 1 lb box at the Store $4.88 (cheapest we can find locally)
In case you’re wondering, that’s a 71% Savings- Since this recipe takes time, we recommend making several batches at once and freezing them for later use.
You can literally make 3 batches of Puff Pastry for the price of 1 store-bought- 1.42 x 3 = $4.26 3x’s the amount of pastry plus money left over!
A bit about Flour Verbiage:
Cake and pastry flour = soft flour
All-purpose flour = plain flour
Bread flour = strong flour, hard flour
Self-rising flour = self-raising flour
Whole-wheat flour = wholemeal flour
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / Dream79