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Homemade puff pastry! You can too!

  • g

This all started while I was standing in front of the freezer case at the grocery store pondering the puff pastry options. Option 1: Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry, 16 oz for $5. Option 2: Classic Puff Pastry, $13 for 14 oz! WHAT THE HEY?!?!?! $13!!!!! I won't buty the Pepperidge Farm brand because it's made with hydrogenated veg oil. I mean the whole point of puff pastry is THE BUTTER, besides I haven't eaten anything with hydrogenated veg oil since my college organic chemistry class. The classic puff pastry is made with butter, but $13 just seems a bit crazy, so I'm standing there pouting and staring blankly at the freezer case, hoping maybe a third option will magically appear. Enter my most awesome SO. He has completed our grocery shopping while I'm trying to make this monumental decision and says casually, "let's just make it ourselves." What? I'm skeptical. I didn't think actual mortals made puff pastry. Isn't it super-difficult? Isn't puff pastry best left to professional pastry chefs? Can't you just tell me that it's justified to spend $13 on this packet of frozen pre-made puff pastry?

I am here to tell you that real people CAN make incredible puff pastry and if we can do it, you can too.

Sure, it's a little time-consuming, but it's a lot like making bread. Most of the time is just waiting, and the actual work/prep steps are minimal and pretty straightforward. The dough is magical - supple, smooth, just downright lovely.

It was THE BEST puff pastry I've ever had. The final cost? $5 for 2.5 pounds (using Plugra butter). Now I know that we never have to buy puff pastry again.

My culinary world just got a lot bigger!

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  1. Ok, you got me. Can you point me to the recipe you used?

    1 Reply
    1. re: chowetta

      Puff Pastry recipe from Baking with Julia. I'd be happy to post the recipe later tonight when I get home if you'd like.

    2. You just inspired me to make another batch now that the stash in my freezer is just about gone... That stuff is made for freezing.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Ida Red

        just remember to freeze it in usable size chunks - I was being lazy one time and froze a whole block. Trouble was I kept needing small quantites of the stuff afterwards.

        1. re: ali patts

          how long can you keep it frozen for and maintain peak buttery deliciousness?

          1. re: funkymonkey

            I have frozen puff pastry dough for 6 months and it handled and baked perfectly. Your freezer must be very cold (below 0 F) and the pastry should be wrapped in saran, and doubled bagged in zip bags. Fats have a incredible ability to suck weird flavors out of a freezer, and puff pastry is very much a chameleon, so any off-flavor is extremely noticeable.

            Be sure to thaw it on a tray, and in a zip-bag in the fridge, or you will create a unusable mess when the layers stick together.
            I have a classic puff pastry recipe, and a 2 hour quickie recipe that works fine for savory dishes.

            1. re: Kelli2006

              can you post the quickie recipe? thank you!

              1. re: funkymonkey

                Funkymonkey, The quickie recipe that I have is very close to what Coconutz posted below, from the Fine Cooking website.
                http://www.taunton.com/finecooking/pa...

      2. YES you CAN make your own puff pastry! I don't know why so many people are intimidated by pastry. Homemade is so much, much better than anything from a store. I don't make puff as much as others, but I usually do it in big batches because it freezes so well.

          1. I make it myself too. It's really not that hard, and I love knowing exactly what's going into it. I'll post a recipe when I get home today. :)

            1. This is one of my favorite things to make, but like you said, quite time consuming. When I learned it in culinary school, our recipe was taking around 6 hours to complete, but it was mainly a lot of waiting, since the butter melts so quickly, you have to keep putting in the fridge to re-solidify.
              You should think about trying your hand at Danish dough now. Its a little sweeter, and nothing tastes better than fresh coffee cake and danishes!

              2 Replies
              1. re: foodrocks

                After I learnt to make puff pastry I went on to croissants. IMO these are far trickier because the yeast needs warmth to grow while the rolling needs to be kept really cold. I made several batches in order to get it right. But good croissants aren't hard to find so I don't make them any more.

                1. re: cheryl_h

                  I took a class in laminated doughs at NECI. The most delicious part of the day was combining the leftover puff pastry, danish dough and croissant dough into one rolled cinnamon coffeecake. I'm unlikely to ever have all three around at once to re-create it, but oh was it good!

              2. yes yes! please post recipes, ive never made it myself but am inspired to try now! :)

                1. Just a word of warning: If you have the urge to laminate your puff pastry with sugar, the dough becomes a ticking time bomb and must be frozen or used soon after adding sugar.

                  I just made a kuign aman (French or Bretton butter cake which is really sort of a carmelized croissant in round cake format), which involves a very moist dough which you laminate with sugar and butter, adding more sugar every time you do a turn. The sugar has an osmotic pressure 300 times greater than water, which means in layman's terms that the sugar draws water out of the dough. I left my first batch in the fridge over night between turns, and it had released 1/4 cup of the original 3/4 cup of water! My second batch had a nice slow fermentation of the dough, but once I started doing turns with sugar the rests in the fridge were the minimum to resolidify the butter.

                    1. re: Kelli2006

                      The diagrams are nice too... I've read directions for puff pastry that were so difficult to understand that I can understand why people are intimidated!

                    2. For a shortcut you might like to try 'rough puff'. It's pretty quick. I'm not sure if Baking with Julia has it, but Fine Cooking ran a version before and I think that's what I made. I used it as a base for a rustic apple and pear tart, and also as a 'lid' for chicken pot pie.

                      Here are the instructions
                      http://www.taunton.com/finecooking/pa...

                      And here is the formula
                      http://www.taunton.com/finecooking/re...

                      and for a bonus, I'm linking the apple and pear tart, from the pastry chef at Jean-Georges. I often make this on holiday mornings--it is incredibly delicious and no one will believe you made it. I usually roll it in a big rectangle and slightly increase the amount of orange almond cream and stresel topping.

                      http://nymag.com/restaurants/articles...
                      This is from NY Magazine. Has anyone else checked out the recipes there? Everything I've made has been stunning. The food editor must be really on her game, it's mostly recipes from famous chefs and pastry chef's from Craft and the like, all seem to be well tested.

                      For a shortcut you might like to try 'rough puff'. It's pretty quick. I'm not sure if Baking with Julia has it, but Fine Cooking ran a version before and I think that's what I made. I used it as a base for a rustic apple and pear tart, and also as a 'lid' for chicken pot pie.

                      Here are the instructions
                      http://www.taunton.com/finecooking/pa...

                      And here is the formula
                      http://www.taunton.com/finecooking/re...

                      and for a bonus, I'm linking the apple and pear tart, from the pastry chef at Jean-Georges. I often make this on holiday mornings--it is incredibly delicious and no one will believe you made it. I usually roll it in a big rectangle and slightly increase the amount of orange almond cream and stresel topping.

                      http://nymag.com/restaurants/articles...
                      This is from NY Magazine. Has anyone else checked out the recipes there? Everything I've made has been stunning. The food editor must be really on her game, it's mostly recipes from famous chefs and pastry chef's from and the like, all seem to be well tested. I have a peach upside down cake from Karen de Masco of Craft in the oven right now (her chocolate custard tart is amazing.

                      )

                      http://nymag.com/restaurants/articles...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: coconutz

                        That rough puff looks a lot like what I know as "blitz" puff pastry. It's easy, but it doesn't have the same layers as a traditional puff. But, who cares, right?

                        1. re: bruce

                          For many applications, I definitely think a rough puff or blitz puff (I agree, they're usually at root the same thing) will do you just fine.

                      2. Dufour

                        http://www.dufourpastrykitchens.com/r...

                        Last week, I had rotting apples out the wazoo - this time of year, we get ambitious with the apples and they never get fully eaten.

                        I took the dufour out of the freezer while I was cooking dinner.

                        After dinner, I peeled the apples, cut them into quarters/cored, and squeezed lemon juice over them.

                        Added: freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon, a little salt, a small amount of splenda brown sugar mix and about 3 envelopes of stevia, some butter and some corn starch. (The less sugar and flour I put into it, the more I can eat at once...

                        )

                        Unfolded the Dufour dough into a baking dish, put in the apples, and folded the dough over, closed up with a fork and cut some vent holes in the top.

                        In about 15 minutes tops, apples to turnover, this was in the oven. We were eating dessert, cooled down a bit and with vanilla ice cream on top about an hour after dinner - just about right. This was a real treat for us, and it took so little effort.

                        If I had to make my own pastry, or even my own pie dough, those apples would have been in the garbage, and we would have had ice cream for dessert. Even if I had made pastry and put it in the freezer, if I had to roll it out, I wouldn't have done it - just the idea of the flour mess and cleaning up the marble board and pin, would have kept it from happening.

                        I'm sure you're right when you say it's easy and it just takes time. But that's true about so many things. I just elect to not take the time to make my own puff pastry dough, and I'm really happy with the Dufour product.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: applehome

                          Dufour is great! Many years ago, when I was a pastry chef, I said "someone should ---" and they did. All butter, better than I can make myself and so convenient.

                        2. The puff pastry recipe from Lindsey Shere in Chez Panisse Desserts is a good one. I was intimidated by puff pastry til I tried this recipe. Don't own the book so can't paraphrase it.

                          Has anyone tried the puff pastry recipe from the Zuni cookbook?

                          1. Has anyone tried this with a sifted whole wheat flour?

                            1. Has anyone tried this with a sifted whole wheat flour?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: FoodFuser

                                >>>echo... echo...<<< for some some reason reason when I push the "post" button, it posts double.

                              2. Classic Puff Pastry is not difficult;it is just very time consuming.

                                The recipes for the "quick" or "mock" or "demi" versions are not Puff Pastry. They are good for a crust on a Pot Pie or other things, but will not give the same finished product as the real deal.

                                Make enough to keep in your freezer. Same amount of work.

                                Great to have on hand for a quick tart: just roll out,dock with a pastry docker or fork, and bake. Fill with a creme patissier and fresh fruit.

                                OR

                                Roll out into a circle, dock as above, cover with a layer of thinly sliced apples mixed with some sugar. Bake until golden. Serve slightly warm with a bowl of sugar and a bowl of Creme Fraiche on the side.