French

How to Make Puff Pastry, Step by Step

February 10, 2014

Once you've perfected basic techniques like frying an egg and cooking rice, it's time to move on to those things that may have initially scared you off. Every other Monday, chef and stylist Camille Becerra is going beyond the basics to help us tackle even the scariest cooking techniques.

Today: Master puff pastry -- it's easier than you think! Then stash some in the freezer, and effortless, last-minute pastries and tarts will be at your fingertips.  

How to Make Puff Pastry on Food52

Nothing gives me more gratification than something that grows 5 times its size in the oven -- like puff pastry. This French pastry dough requires a bit of patience, but it is essentially foolproof, and it's a lovely weekend project to take on. 

This method uses a block of dough and a block of butter -- along with a series of rolls and folds -- to create layers upon layers of pastry. When baked, the butter melts and creates steam, which is then encased and trapped between layers of dough, causing them to separate into dozens of flaky layers.    

How to Make Puff Pastry on Food52

The uses for puff pastry are expansive. Start with savory or sweet turnovers, pinwheels, the lid to a pot pie, free-form tarts, and elephant ear cookies. Puff pastry stays well in the freezer, rolled flat and stored in a large Ziploc bag -- so you can make last-minute pastries and effortlessly impress all your guests.  

More: Use puff pastry in this honey-sweetened Quince Tarte Tatin.

To start, you want to make your two different packages: the butter and the dough.

How to Make Puff Pastry on Food52

For the dough:

1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups pastry flour
2 teaspoons salt

Add the yeast and sugar to the milk and give it a quick stir. Allow 5 minutes for the yeast to bloom.  

How to Make Puff Pastry on Food52 

Mix the flour and salt. On a clean surface, make a well with the flour and pour the milk into the well, gradually incorporating the flour into the milk until they are both well combined. Knead your dough by hand for 15 minutes. 

How to Make Puff Pastry on Food52

Chill the dough and allow it to rest for an hour. In the meantime, make the butter packet. 

For the butter mixture:

2 cups butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

How to Make Puff Pastry on Food52  How to Make Puff Pastry on Food52

Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes and knead the flour into it. Once everything is well combined, shape it into a 5-inch square -- flour your hands beforehand so that they won’t stick to the butter. Chill the square for 30 minutes.

How to Make Puff Pastry on Food52  Hot to Make Puff Pastry on Food52

Take your dough and roll it into a 6 x 12-inch rectangle. 

How to Make Puff Pastry on Food52  How to Make Puff Pastry on Food52

Place your butter square over one half of the dough, then dip a pastry brush into water and brush around the edges. Encase the butter in the dough and press edges to seal. You can use parchment here if you like. Chill for 20 minutes. 

How to Make Puff Pastry on Food52  How to Make Puff Pastry on Food52

Using a small dusting of flour, roll out the rectangle to 9 x 20 inches. Using a dry pastry brush, brush off any excess flour -- otherwise it will get trapped and start to brown, eventually discoloring your dough.  

How to Make Puff Pastry on Food52

Fold your dough into thirds, like you're folding a letter, and repeat: Roll to 9 x 20 inches, brush off excess flour, and fold into thirds. Chill for an hour. You will repeat this whole process (roll, fold, roll, fold, chill) two more times, each time chilling the dough for 1 hour, for a total of six folds. 

How to Make Puff Pastry on Food52  How to Make Puff Pastry on Food52

It is helpful to make indentations with your finger on the dough to keep track of were you are at with your folds. (One indentation for the first fold, two for the second, and so on.)

How to Make Puff Pastry on Food52  How to Make Puff Pastry on Food52 

When you're ready to use your pastry, proof the dough in a warm place for an hour, then bake in a 425° F oven.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Sharon Radisch

24 Comments

James S. August 28, 2016
Been making "puff pastry" for 40+ years and have never used yeast. I've tried using butter at room temperature and although it works, I was taught to use frozen butter and use a grater to shred it, puffs higher than using the softer butter or larger pieces of butter. Bottom line though is to use the method that works for you.
 
zenith5 September 14, 2015
I made this over the long Labor Day weekend. I have used it in several recipes but the pastry hasn't puffed at all. Even if my yeast was bad shouldn't the layers of butter have done its jobs to release steam and puff the pastry? Any suggestions as to what my have caused this? Thank you!
 
Joyce August 23, 2015
Why does it show Flour and "Pastry flour in the ingredients? What is pastry flour? For the dough:<br /><br />1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk<br /> 2 tablespoons active dry yeast<br /> 2 tablespoons sugar<br /> 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour<br /> 3 cups pastry flour<br />2 teaspoons salt<br />
 
zenith5 September 6, 2015
Was this ever answered?
 
Ellen December 1, 2017
I wish questions would be answered in a timely manner, as some questions on these posts haven't been answered in over a year, and the questions are meant for the person that posted the recipe to begin with and their blog. Gee. I also wish there was a like button so we could like a lot of these questions that more than one person wants answered, and to like responses that we receive.
 
Ellen December 1, 2017
Thanks Joyce, I don't understand the use of two different flours either.
 
Melanie R. August 23, 2015
Very thin layers of dough and the steam that builds up within. Puff pastry or pâte feuilletée starts with nothing but water and flour. You work it, roll it, stretch it and give it several "turns" enclosed with a beautiful amount of butter/little flour mix until all of those layers are formed the way you want to. Some more info can also be found here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puff_pastry<br />explained in detail. In general my attitude is..if something comes out the way you want it to....then by all means go for it...yeast or no yeast...
 
zenith5 August 23, 2015
It's called PUFF pastry. How is it supposed to puff without yeast!?! . . .For all those who question the use of yeast.
 
Annie F. August 23, 2015
See comment above yours - it has nothing to do with yeast, but the steam that builds up between the layers when it bakes.
 
zenith5 August 23, 2015
I wish there was more of a dialogue with Food52 recipe creators. It would be nice to actually receive a response as to why yeast was used. Hopefully this message is read by the powers that be.
 
Lia M. January 7, 2017
I'm sure this is a great recipe, but classic puff pastry doesn't usually have yeast in it. it puffs because of the butter and flour layers and steam.
 
Melanie R. August 23, 2015
hm...yeast for puff pastry?<br />
 
Paolo L. August 23, 2015
I join the "what's yeast got to do with it ?" cause.<br />Unless you meant to provide a 'croissant dough" tutorial .<br /><br />and at very least with pastry, can you food-writing/blogging/tutoring people get over the cups and spoons already ?!?<br />If you find the metric system so repulsive, fine, use pounds and ounces, but give accurate measures, PLEEEASE. !
 
Charlie S. August 23, 2015
Puff pastry is also much more successful when the ingredients are weighed in grams. A side benefit is that one can then start to understand the proportions for puff, pate brisee, etc.
 
Charlie S. August 23, 2015
Yeast? Don't think so.
 
vimalalakshmi July 10, 2015
well explained tutorial........but camila I have a doubt may of the puffpastry recipes dont use yeast.Why do u suggest an yeasted dough?
 
lena16 March 26, 2014
Thanks for the tutorial. But despite all the visual detail and a rather complicated subject, the flour measurements are STILL in cups, rather than grams/ounces. <br /><br />Also, would be great to have a SMALL-BATCH version of this yeasted puff pastry.
 
Gretchen February 19, 2014
I am gluten intolerant what flour can I use to make puff pastry?
 
Printz February 17, 2014
Is it possible to make baklava using this recipe? Would I need to make 2 batches of dough possibly? This looks awesome!
 
Peter J. February 18, 2014
Baklava is made with phyllo, not puff pastry. Two totally different things.
 
tnypow February 16, 2014
Oh, how I yearn to learn to make/bake stuff like this...but NYC kitchens and 2 sq ft of counter space says no...(re-arranging the kitchen for a "quick" recipe is (lol) counter-productive in my book)
 
Melina H. February 15, 2014
You've made this accessible and seemingly simple. Great step-by-step photos to boost confidence! Mayyyybe I'm gonna finally do it... ;)
 
Lauren's P. February 11, 2014
Do I dare say Cronut?
 
Author Comment
Camille B. February 11, 2014
:) fry her up!