Yeasted puff pastry is the dough that is used to make treats like croissants and danish. If you’ve never made yeasted puff pastry, I’d recommend starting with classic (unyeasted) puff first. This allows you to get the hang of “locking” a block of butter inside the dough, then rolling out and repeatedly folding it—a process known as lamination. Yeasted puff pastry follows a very similar technique as the classic method, but with the added difficulty of working with a dough that is constantly rising throughout the process.
For this dough, we’ll perform four folds total. For each fold, the dough is rolled out to an even thickness, trying to maintain straight edges and squared corners throughout the process. I’ve developed this recipe using a half baking sheet (13 by 18 inches) as a guide—that way each time you roll out the dough, you can just use the baking sheet a guideline to show if you’ve reached the right size to perform the folds, rather than needing to bother with measurements throughout. Be sure to allow the dough enough time to rest and relax at each stage. This makes it easier to roll and also ensures that both the dough and the butter locked inside it are at the ideal temperature: chilled but pliable, which ensures even layering and a beautiful interior crumb structure.
–Adapted from The Fearless Baker. —Erin Jeanne McDowell
Test Kitchen Notes
Bake It Up a Notch is a column by Resident Baking BFF Erin Jeanne McDowell. Each month, she'll help take our baking game to the next level, teaching us all the need-to-know tips and techniques and showing us all the mistakes we might make along the way. Today, a crash course in yeasted puff pastry—the labor-of-love dough for crispy-tender croissants, danish, kouign amann, and more. —The Editors
- Prep time 15 hours
- Cook time 30 minutes
- makes 1 (13x18 inch) portion of pastry
4 3/4 cups
(570 grams) bread flour
(99 grams) granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons
(6 grams) fine salt
plus 1 teaspoon (14 grams) active dry yeast
(70 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups
(380 grams) whole milk, heated to about 85 degrees Fahrenheit
- Butter Block
(454 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
(80 grams) bread flour
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and butter on low speed until the butter is broken up and distributed somewhat throughout the dough, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the warm milk and mix the dough on low speed for 3 minutes, then on medium-high speed for 3 more minutes. Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl that’s at least twice as big as the dough (to allow room for it to rise). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 10 to 12 hours.
- When you’re ready to laminate the dough, make the butter block. In a medium bowl (or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), mix the butter and flour together until well combined. Prepare a piece of parchment roughly the size of a baking sheet.
- With one of the shorter sides of the parchment closest to you, dollop the butter on the lower half of the parchment. Use a small offset spatula to spread the butter into a rectangle 6 by 9 inches wide and about ½-inch thick. Use the blade to help you keep the edges as squared off/straight as possible. Fold the top half of the parchment down over the butter block, so it’s completely encased in paper. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill until firm but pliable (about 60 to 70°F).
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough to a rectangle about 12 by 10 inches wide. Arrange the dough so that one of the shorter sides of the dough is facing you. Peel the paper back from the top of the butter block, leaving it on the paper so you can use it to help you to guide it onto the dough. Position the butter block so there is about ½ inch margin around the base and right/left sides—with about 6 inches of dough above it.
- Gently fold the dough over the butter block, fully encasing it. Firmly pinch the excess dough around the butter block to seal, then fold the excess dough under itself to create a package of dough about 6 by 10 inches wide. If the dough or butter feels at all soft or sticky, refrigerate it for 10 to 30 minutes before continuing. Otherwise, proceed with the first fold.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 13 by 18 inches wide (about ½-inch thick). If you’re having a hard time rolling out the dough, it may be too cold—let it soften at room temperature for a few minutes before proceeding. If the dough is squishy or soft, refrigerate more before proceeding.
- Perform the first fold: a 4-fold. Position the dough so that one of the longer sides is facing you. Fold the left edge about three quarters of the way over the dough. Fold the right edge one quarter of the way over the dough so it meets the left edge. The dough will now look somewhat like an open book with an off-center spine. Fold the larger half over the smaller half. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Perform the second fold: a 3-fold. Roll out the dough to about 13 by 18 inches wide on a lightly floured surface. Position the dough so that one of the longer sides is facing you. Fold the left edge one third of the way over the dough. Then, do the same with the right edge, folding it one third of the way over the dough so that it rests on the portion you already folded. The dough will now look somewhat like a standard piece of paper folded to put into a business envelope. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Perform the third fold: Repeat steps 7 and 8.
- Perform the final fold: Repeat step 9. Cover the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before using.
For Chocolate Puff Pastry:
Reduce the flour to 4 ½ cups (540 g) and add ½ cup (40 g) cocoa powder—preferably black or dark cocoa powder—to the mixer in step 1. Reduce the butter to 3 tablespoons (43 g).