Discover how to craft French puff pastry from scratch, a skill treasured by pastry chefs. This homemade classic offers incredibly light and crispy flakiness, elevating your sweet and savory creations far beyond the commercial alternatives.
As a French baker, homemade puff pastry is one of those recipes we aspire to master, and the recipe I'm sharing with you today is a classic French recipe that I've made and successfully mastered numerous times.
What is pâte feuilletée?
French puff pastry, or "pâte feuilletée," is a versatile pastry dough known for its flaky, buttery layers, often used in both sweet and savory recipes. It is created by folding layers of dough and butter to create a light and airy texture.
Certainly, it may sound technical, but the secret lies in the French "tourage" method, where layers of butter and dough are alternated through folding. This process results in the incredible flaky texture, known as "feuilletage," once the pastry is baked.
More Pastry Dough Recipes
Compared to simpler recipes like shortcrust pastry or pie crust, puff pastry may seem technical and time-consuming, which can be intimidating for beginners. However, in reality, it's quite simple to make and offers remarkable differences from store-bought versions.
Traditional puff pastry is exceptionally crispy, lighter, and more digestible. Achieving this involves a folding technique, alternately layering the dough and butter in successive "turns."
In a classic homemade puff pastry recipe, there are two types of turns: the single turn and the double turn.
- Single Turn: This involves rolling out the dough into a large rectangle and folding it into three parts. It counts as 1 turn.
- Double Turn: Also known as the "wallet fold," this requires rolling out the dough into a large rectangle and folding it into four parts. It counts as 1.5 turns.
This number of turns can be expected from various methods, but here's the one I use most often:
Method: Perform 2 double turns (1.5 each) followed by 1 single turn (1) and finish with another single turn (1) for a total of 6 turns (1.5 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 6).
How to make Traditional French puff pastry
Make the Dough
- Place all ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the dough hook and knead for 3-5 minutes until you have a soft dough.
- Form the dough into a ball.
- Incise crosswise with a knife, then wrap it in plastic and place in the fridge for about 2 hours.
Stir in the butter block
- Roll out the dough into a square with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface.
- Place the butter block in the center (see picture), the dough should be a little larger than the size of the butter.
- Fold the corners over the butter to cover it completely.
Make a simple turn
- Roll out the dough into a large rectangle at least 30-40 cm long.
- Fold in 3, fold the top edge first and then cover with the bottom edge (see picture).
Make a double turn
- Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to a length of about 40 cm.
- Fold in 4, first folding the top edge over ¼ of the length of the dough.
- Fold over the remaining ¾ without covering the top edge.
- Finish by folding the whole again in 2.
Recipe ideas using this dough
- French desserts: mille-feuilles, croissants, pains au chocolat, French king cake, St honoré,
- Fruit Tarts: Create delectable fruit tarts with a layer of pastry cream or sweetened cream cheese and top with fresh fruits like berries, kiwi, and peaches.
- Palmiers: Make sweet and crispy palmiers by sprinkling sugar on rolled-out puff pastry, folding, and slicing before baking.
- Turnovers: Fill puff pastry with fruit preserves, chocolate, or savory ingredients like spinach and feta for quick and delicious turnovers.
- Quiches: Line a pie dish with puff pastry to make a savory quiche with your choice of fillings like bacon, cheese, and vegetables.
- Vol-au-Vent: Create elegant puff pastry cases filled with creamy seafood or mushroom fillings for a classic French dish.
- Pot Pies: Make hearty chicken or vegetable pot pies by lining individual ramekins or a larger dish with puff pastry.
- Pinwheels: Roll out puff pastry, spread it with pesto, tomato sauce, or cheese, then roll it up and slice into pinwheels for savory appetizers.
- Baked Brie: Wrap a wheel of Brie cheese in puff pastry, add toppings like nuts and jam, and bake until golden for an impressive appetizer.
- Sausage Rolls: Wrap sausages in puff pastry and bake for a savory snack or appetizer.
Storage and Freeze
Refrigeration: Store unused puff pastry in the refrigerator. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out. It can be refrigerated for up to 2-3 days.
Freezing: If you want to store puff pastry for a longer period, freezing is a great option. Wrap it in plastic wrap, parchment paper, or foil, ensuring it's well-sealed. Then, place it in a freezer-safe bag or container.
- Proper Sealing: When wrapping or sealing the pastry, ensure that the edges are well sealed to prevent any leakage during baking.
- Flour Lightly: Use a minimal amount of flour when rolling out the pastry to avoid making it too dry. Too much flour can affect the texture.
- Keep It Cold: To achieve a flaky texture and prevent the butter from leaking out, ensure the puff pastry dough remains cold throughout the process.
- Shape as Desired: Once firm, cut the dough into your desired shapes using cutters or use it to wrap ingredients, such as in a baked brie recipe.
- Allow Resting: Allow the shaped dough to rest in a cool place while preheating the oven to at least 355°F / 180°C. Bake until the pastry turns golden brown and becomes crispy.
- Refrigeration Between Turns: Ensure that the dough rests in the fridge for a minimum amount of time between each series of turns to maintain the flaky texture. Overhandling can cause the butter to soften.
- Freezer Shortcut: To save time during preparation, let the dough sit in the freezer for 30 minutes between rounds of rolling and folding.
- Practice Makes Perfect: Puff pastry can be challenging for beginners. Don't be discouraged if your first attempt isn't perfect. With practice, you'll become more skilled at handling it.
Use a dry butter with at least 80% fat content.
For a lighter dough, reduce the amount of kneading butter and make at least 6 turns.
Finish baking the dough at 230°C for 5 minutes for more crispness.
Apply a layer of sugar syrup on top of the dough after baking.
Recipes with puff pastry
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