March 23, 2012

Quick and Easy Puff Pastry

If ever there was a Seven Wonders of the Baking World I think puff pastry, or pâte feuilletée, would have to be on the list.  It's one of the most versatile doughs you can work with for sweet and savory treats.   I grew up using the store-bought variety from Pepperidge Farm, a great product BTW, but wanted to try my hand at making it from scratch. 

Traditional puff pastry is very labor intensive and requires rolling and folding a butter block around a flour dough, similar to making croissants.  I'd heard about a quicker method where the butter is actually processed into the dough eliminating the need for lamination.  It sounded great but would the finished product really measure up?

When it doubt I always turn to the cooking and baking experts at Cook's Illustrated.  Their recipe for quickest puff pastry was supposed to deliver the multiple layers I was after in a dough that took 15 minutes to make.  Seeing is believing so off I went to test it for myself.

What can I say?  I'm definitely a believer!  The dough came together so quickly I thought it was too good to be true.  But the real test would be how the pastry performed in the oven.  I used the dough to make some French apple tarts and I couldn't believe how high they puffed.  The layers were so buttery, flaky and crispy.  All I can say is "Adios Pepperidge Farm...I've found something better."

Quickest Puff Pastry

Makes about 1 1/2 lbs of dough

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour , about 9 ounces
20 tablespoons unsalted butter (or 2-1/2 sticks) , cold, cut into 1/2-inch dice (4 tablespoons kept separate)
1 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons cold water , plus a tablespoon more, if necessary (I ended adding 2 tablespoons more)

Place flour in work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade; add the 4 tablespoons butter; pulse until butter is absorbed, about 10 to 12 pulses of 1 second each.

Add remaining butter; pulse once or twice to distribute. Dissolve salt in water and add to flour mixture; pulse 3 or 4 times, until dough just starts to form a rough ball - do not over process. If mixture remains very dry, add a teaspoon of water at a time and pulse again.

Turn dough onto floured work surface and shape into rough rectangle, then place on top of sheet of well-floured plastic wrap measuring at least 12-by-18 inches. Lightly flour top of dough and cover with another sheet of wrap. Press dough with rolling pin to flatten, then roll back and forth several times with rolling pin to make 12-by-18-inch rectangle of dough.

Peel away plastic wrap and invert dough onto floured work surface, long side facing you. Peel away second piece of wrap. Fold top third of dough down and bottom third up to make 4-by-18-inch rectangle, then roll up dough from one end (like a jelly roll). Press dough into square, cut in half and wrap each half in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.  You could also freeze the dough at this point.  For use later:  make sure to defrost the frozen dough in the fridge overnight.  

To make the French apple tarts:  Roll out the cold puff pastry dough to about 1/8-inch thickness and cut in to desired shape.  [I cut mine with a large rectangle cookie cutter.]  Slide on to a cookie sheet and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Prick dough all over with a fork.  Place a few slices of peeled, cored Granny Smith apple on top.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until dough is puffed and golden brown.  Brush with melted apple jelly to add a bit of sweetness and give the tarts a nice shine.  


  1. This looks like store bought puff pastry, I'm so impressed! Definitely trying this - thank you for being the guinea pig :)

  2. I have been looking for a quicker puff pastry recipe. Thanks for sharing this! Love it!

  3. Wow. It's fast enough to make in the morning! They look scrumptious!

  4. Just pinned and tweeted this beautiful recipe. So glad to have found your blog via TWD!


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