American

Puff Pastry

February 20, 2020
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Making your own puff pastry is all about feel. The dough needs to remain in the ideal state of firm-but-pliable throughout the process. Adapted from my book, The Fearless Baker (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2017). —Erin McDowell

  • Prep time 18 hours
  • Makes about 3 pounds (1.36 kg) pastry
Ingredients
  • Dough
  • 3 1/3 cups (397 grams) bread flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (198 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (287 grams) cool water
  • Butter block
  • 1 pound (453 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (71 grams) bread flour
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the bread flour, all purpose flour, and salt to combine. Add the butter and mix on low speed until it is fully incorporated and the mixture looks a little crumbly, about 1 minute. Add the water and mix until the dough comes together, 4 minutes. Raise the speed to high and mix for 1 to 2 minutes more, until the dough is smooth.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and form into a rough rectangular shape. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes.
  3. Make the butter block: In the same stand mixer bowl—this time fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and flour until well combined. Scoop the mixture onto the lower third of a piece of parchment paper (cut the size of a baking sheet) and use a small offset spatula to spread it into a rectangle about ½-inch thick (about 6 by 9 inches). Fold the upper part of the parchment paper down over the butter block—you can use the paper to help you square off the edges. Transfer to the refrigerator–monitor until it is firm but pliable (about 65°F to 70°F). It should be able to gently bend without breaking.
  4. When the dough and butter block are both chilled, but flexible, it’s time to lock the butter inside the dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a rectangle slightly wider than the butter block, and twice the length (about 12 by 10 inches). If necessary, turn the rectangle so that one of the shorter ends is facing you.
  5. Peel the paper back from the top of the butter block, leaving it on the paper so that you can use it to help you guide it onto the dough. Invert it onto the bottom half of the dough, positioning it so that there is a ½-inch margin of dough around the sides and bottom of the butter block. Gently stretch the top portion of the dough to fold it down over the butter block so that it meets the opposite edge of the dough. Press the edges of the dough together firmly all the way around to seal, then fold the excess dough at the bottom and edges under itself. You should now have a firm, but pliable rectangular package of dough (about 6 by 10 inches) enveloping the butter block. If the dough feels soft, refrigerate the dough for 15 to 20 minutes before proceeding. Otherwise, proceed with Fold A.
  6. Fold A: On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a rectangle about ½-inch thick. If you’re having a hard time rolling the dough, it might be to cold—let it stand at room temperature for 5 to 15 minutes. If the dough feels soft or squishy or melty butter is breaking through, it may be too warm, and may need more time in the refrigerator to firm up.
  7. Position the dough so one of the shorter sides is facing you. The first fold is called a “four fold.” Fold the top portion of the dough about three-quarters of the way over the dough. Fold the bottom portion one quarter of the way over the dough so it meets the left edge (it should look like an open book with an off-center spine). Fold the larger side over the smaller side (essentially folding in half), then wrap and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.
  8. Fold B: On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a rectangle about ½-inch thick. The next fold is called a “three fold.” Face the dough so that one of the shorter sides of the rectangle is facing you. Fold the top portion of the dough about on third of the way over the dough. Do the same with the right edge, folding it one third of the way over, resting it on top of the other piece just folded (like the way you’d fold a standard piece of paper to fit into an envelope). Wrap and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.
  9. Fold C: Repeat steps 6 through 7 to perform another “four fold.”
  10. Fold D: Repeat step 8 to perform another “three fold.”
  11. After the final fold, the dough should be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for at least 12 hours before using (and up to 2 days). For longer storage, it can be frozen for up to 3 months (thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using).

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Review
I always carry three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's pie. My first cookbook, The Fearless Baker, is out on October 24, 2017.