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Puff Pastry Dough

This is a follows-up from my previous two posts: "Why Chill the Dough?" and "Flaky Pastry Crust: Butter vs Shortening"

Based on many helpful suggestions, I have mixed the dough with minimal effort and chilled the dough before baking. I have also substituted shortening with butter and increased the amount of butter. My tart crust/shell is pretty flaky and light. I ate so many of my "trial-and-error" experimental products. I am starting to get sick my bake goods. :)

Now, I read there is another way to make the tart crust is to use the puff pastry method. A water dough and a short dough are to separately prepared. They are to be folded over each other and rolled out, freezed to hold and then repeat folding, rolling, freezing for a few times. This creates alternating layers of dough. In fact, I have tasted these puff pastry products and they are very awesome. No doubt this requires significantly more work.

What do you think of this approach? How many people use this? Is it easy to success? Anything to look out? Any common mistake? Thanks.

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  1. It'll work, but I don't see why you'd want to bother preparing a water dough and combining it in layers with a short dough. I don't see any advantage to using that method. Once you've rolled and folded the dough you describe you'd be disrupting the balance of alternating layers with each fold. What would that achieve?

    1. I have never heard of this technique for pastry; it doesn't sound like there's enough butter involved to end up with something like a puff pastry, and I would be concerned that using the technique you use for puff pastry, the folding and rolling, which creates the layers of flour and fat which gives you the flakiness, with regular dough you would probably overwork the gluten and end up with a tough crust.
      I've made my own puff paste, but not any more - it's just so time consuming, and it's so easy to buy pre-made. On the other hand, if you're mastering a regular pie crust recipe and feel good about it, it just gets so easy to turn one out with little fuss.

      21 Replies
      1. re: onthelam

        Thanks Todao and Onthelam,

        I have only read about this technique and have eaten products from it, but I have never made it. Consequently, I am seeking advise here. Here is a wikipedia entry of the puff dough I mentioned.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puff_pastry

        Here is another article which describe the traditional puff pastry takes half a day:

        http://www.finecooking.com/articles/h...

        Yeah. It is going to be very very very time consuming. I will have to make two dough. Fold them, roll them, freeze them again (to avoid too much mixing between the layer), then again fold, roll, freeze... fold roll freeze.

        I am just curious if anyone has much experience in the traditional puff pastry dough.

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          Ive made tons of puff pastry(laminated doughs) in my previous jobs as a baker, but Ive never used it as a pie crust. I don't think it takes long to make because the vast majority of the time involved is resting the dough, and Ive never put the dough in a freezer to rest.

          1. re: Kelli2006

            Kelli and Onthelam,

            Why rest the dough? I didn't do it last night. I understand resting the dough when I am working with something with yeast -- so to have the yeast to puff up the dough. What is happening when I am resting layers of water dough and shortening dough?

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              Chilling puff pastry is not about allowing the yeast to work but it is about chilling the dough so the butter doesn't melt and ooze out as your fold it.

              I have never used a shortening and water dough because the combination is illogical.

              1. re: Kelli2006

                Kelli,

                I thought you said you never put the dough in a freezer to rest. So how to chill the puff pastry? Is it refrigerator?

                You said you have never used a shortening dough and a water dough for laminated dough. So what are your two alternating dough layers made of?

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Puff pastry(laminated dough) is placed in the refrigerator to rest and to harden the butter so it doesn't melt and make the dough unworkable.

                  Puff pastry is made of a AP flour, yeast, eggs, milk, water, salt, sugar and vanilla and it is laminated with 1-1/4 lb of barely malleable butter that is folded many times to create 1000+ layers.

                  You can laminate pie dough if you are careful and start w/ pastry flour. Peter Reinhart does a similar technique with biscuit dough to achieve a puff pastry effect.

                  1. re: Kelli2006

                    Puff pastry should not have any yeast. Yeast is used making viennoiserie such as croissants. And I have never come across any recipes having eggs.

                    1. re: PBSF

                      You are correct, Yeast and eggs are used in danish dough but the laminating technique is identical.

                      1. re: Kelli2006

                        Thanks Kelli. The ones I have read have no yeast either. I have seen eggs on and off, but usually not. There are usually 3 folds of 2 folds, so that makes it maybe, so it creates about 27 of alternating layers.

                    2. re: Kelli2006

                      It's actually 729 layers.

                      I have made puff pastry many times, and found that I prefer it to the store-bought variety (even the ones made with butter).

                      In Pierre Hermé's book "Chocolate Desserts" I saw a recipe for chocolate puff pastry. Have you ever made such a thing? It looks great.

                      1. re: souschef

                        Hi Souschef,

                        This is probably the dumbest question of all. People keep telling me that I can buy puff pastry. Where do I buy one in store? I don't presume I can buy in supermarkets, so what stores are we talking about?

                        I think I need to make puff pastry correct once. :D

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I buy it at a supermarket; I'm in Canada. The stuff I buy is butter puff pastry; other places carry the stuff not made with butter.

                          I have seen butter puff pastry at Whole Foods in Carmel, CA, so I imagine that they all carry it.

                          Making puff pastry is a PITA the first few times. The key to it is getting the texture of the butter right before you start. You have to also not be impatient.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            It is usually in the freezer section with the frozen pie crusts and cakes. If you can get the product that is made with butter instead of margarine or shortening because you will notice the taste difference.
                            Pepperidge Farm is the most common national brand.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              The most common is Pepperidge Farm in the frozen food section but I don't care for it. Trader Joes used to carry a great artisan one, butter, flour, sugar, salt were the only ingredients. I have asked and they've found some in the back for me but I've been told most stores are discontinuing it. Dufour is good but much more expensive.

                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  Chemicalkinetics,
                  I think in that wiki description you're confusing the process of making puff pastry; actually, the way they're describing it IS confusing. You aren't combining a water based dough and a short dough - you are taking the water based dough and wrapping it around a large amount of cold butter, and slowly working the butter into layers of dough. It is time consuming, but I think anyone interested in pastry should try their hand at it - Kelli is right, the real time spent working the dough is not that much, it's the resting time that adds up.
                  But look on line for a good recipe with photos of the technique - if I find one I'll post it.
                  Have fun!

                  1. re: onthelam

                    I found this demonstration on YouTube.
                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3EDgQ...

                    1. re: Kelli2006

                      Kelli,

                      Cool video. It is not too different from what I read. Except I didn't know I can use pure butter as the shortening dough.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        I would never use shortening when I make puff pastry. It might be possible but the resulting flavor would not be pleasurable.

                        1. re: Kelli2006

                          Kelli,

                          Sorry, when I said shortening dough, I was using the very broad term, which includes vegetable shortening, lard, butter... . Right now I use butter to make my shortening dough, but I am not using pure butter as illustrated by the video. I am using 50/50 flour/butter by volume as the shortening dough.

                    2. re: onthelam

                      Onthelam,

                      I am trying as of this very moment. I will see if this work out. :D

                  2. re: onthelam

                    onthelam,

                    I don't mean to use my current dough for puff pastry dough. I will use a completely different set of dough to create the water dough and the shortening dough. Compare to my current dough, the water dough will have less butter, and the shortening dough will double the amount of butter. Anything you believe I should look out?

                  3. Do you have a link that describes and/or gives directions for making a dough using the water dough/butter dough method that you mention? I've never seen that - you've got my curiousity piqued.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: housewolf

                      The youtube video posted above:
                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3EDgQ...
                      demonstrates a process that is identical in result but the procedure is less complicated because it relies on a single ball of water dough being used to prepare a puff pastry.

                    2. Kudos to the OP for pursuing baking. I find baking stressful at best.

                      I've seen a lot of puff pastry made (and made a bit myself -- not always the best results). I've never heard of laminating two doughs together. Perhaps I've just been taught the more conventional method.

                      Before embarking on puff pastry making, it's good to have the right equipment. Now, the OP's been doing a lot of baking. Do you have a marble board to handle the dough on?

                      The best puff paste comes from the process that keeps it the coldest. Restaurant pastry kitchens have refrigerated marble work tables to help ensure that large batches stay cold. This way the fat doesn't melt and you're combining fat -- not oil -- with the flour. The melting *should* happen in the baking -- where it causes the "puff" and the delectable layering of the flakes of the dough.

                      Start out easy and work your way up.

                      And I'll volunteer to say what some 'hounds may be thinking: if the OP is just using the puff paste to line tart shells, there're puff pastry doughs that're pre-made, come frozen, handle marvelously, and can be counted on for a fine result.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: shaogo

                        Shago,

                        Do you mean the puff pastry from Pepperidge Farm? Or something else?

                        http://www.puffpastry.com/

                        1. re: shaogo

                          Shaogo,

                          Yestersday I saw an apron online which read "Stressed is Desserts Backward" (or somethine like that). I immediately thought of you :P

                        2. Just tried the puff pastry (alternating water dough and short dough). It does not come out as good and as puffy as the bakery ones. Nevertheless, the final product is flaky, no worse than the "cold butter, light handling" method. While they both produce flaky crust. The puff pastry routine produces more consistent alternativing layers of flaky crust, while the "light handling" routine produces more random flaky crust.

                          Thanks. I am seriously starting to get sick of eating mini tarts after tarts.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            I happened to browse through Dorie Greenspan's "Desserts by Pierre Hermme" while looking for something else and came across PH's recipe for "Inside Out Puff Pastry", which sounds like the alternating method you tried today. Sounds interesting, I may try it at some point.

                            How 'bout making some palmiers from your puff pastry experiments if you're tired of tarts?

                            1. re: housewolf

                              Good suggestion. I always want to make ginger palmiers.

                          2. Your method of combining two separate doughs, a water and a short dough, is use by the Chinese to make their flaking pastry. The Golden Gate Bakery in San Francisco Chinatown, renown for their egg custard tart, uses this two dough method for the tart shell. The texture is different from the French puff pastry being flaky and tender rather than crispy.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: PBSF

                              PBSF,

                              Yes, I tried both methods, but neither come out quiet what I want. Neither are very "puffy". There are layers, but they are not puffy enough.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                By "puffy", what exactly you are referring to? Good puff pasty made with butter should have a slightly crispy texture when first bit into it, then melts in one's mouth. It should be light but not soft. Croissant, which uses similar techniques and ingredients, but have much more of an airy, puffy texture because of the addition of yeast and proofing.
                                If you are referring 'puffy' as to how high the finished baked pastry is, good puff pastry should rise about an inch if it is baked blind. If you break into it, it should have crackling sound with layers of layers of pastry separated by air. For some uses, puff pastry is baked with a light rack on top to prevent it from rising too much. Mille-feuilles (Napoleons), bottoms for tarts are two examples.
                                The best advice I can give is to pick up a good French pastry book and read the section on it. It should give a thorough explanation of techniques, tips and the hows and whys. Since it is a classic French pastry dough, there is not much variation in the explanation. Supermarkets are not a good place to buy good puff pastry, other than Pepperidge Farm which is ok in a pinch. There are some good frozen puff pastry being sold in speciality stores and Whole Foods should have the very good Dufour brand (not cheap).

                                1. re: PBSF

                                  In true puffy pastry, water in the dough layers turns to steam, separating the layers, while the butter melts and fries them.

                                  To me, a palmier (often called in Spanish, oreja, ear), is the quintessential puffy pastry item, light and crisp through out.

                                  Baklava and strudel produce the same layered structure by starting with a very thin dough, spreading it with butter or other fat, and then stacking the layers.

                                  Other short (high fat) doughs produce a similar effect by mixing the fat in smaller pieces with the the flour and water. The result can be good, though it rarely has the lightness and crispness of the true layered version.

                            2. HI:

                              If I making puff pastry dough for pie crust, I would consider "blitz" or "quick" puff pastry.

                              It can be made in a couple of hours, and is perfect for pie crusts. In fact, the French, who consider pie an American Item call this "American" pastry dough.

                              Ralph
                              Adagio Bakery & Cafe
                              If you need a method, email me @ adagiobakery&gmail.com

                              1. I have no idea what most of the posters are taling about - short doughs, water doughs, freezing.

                                Make puff pastry dough quickly using flour, bit of salt, water, and butter - all cold. Mix dough, roll out into rectangle, spread butter, fold, roll, turn, roll, fold, ... repeat 8 - 10 times quickly, then chill. Layer after layer of dough and butter. What is the big deal???

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  I'm with you, Sam. The hardest part (for me) is having the patience to let it rest in the fridge.

                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    Sam, are you saying that when you start the butter is of spreadable consistency? I have found that it does not work for me unless the butter is just rollable; if it is spreadable it is too warm.

                                    You must work extremely quickly. I have found that if I do not let it rest in the fridge for about 20-30 minutes every two turns the butter gets too soft and breaks through the layers. I also do it just 6 times, not 8-10 times.

                                    1. re: souschef

                                      The butter has to be just barely spreadable - warmer than rocky chunks, colder than easily spreadable. You then have to work as quickly as possible. Five or six folds is perfectly OK, especially if you fold the rectangle in thirds.

                                      1. re: souschef

                                        Souschef,

                                        My experience as well. If the butter is too soft, it will break through the dough. Thanks.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                          Buetter needs to be PLIABLE, not soft. There is a difference. Pliability comes from beating the dough when making your butter block while it is still inside the parchment!

                                          The butter needs to be the same pliability as the dough, but COLD!

                                          1. re: Adagio

                                            I think we are in violent agreement :)

                                            1. re: souschef

                                              Yep. Hey, I just remember this post. Thanks for bringing it back you two. It is interesting to know Sam wrote here too. He and I used to agree and also disagree on many things, but he was always honest and respectful. Honest, because he said what he really believes. Respectful because at least he "listen". His words may come as arrogant, but he always listen carefully to what I said and at least debate exactly on what I said, and not twisting my words.

                                              Sometime we need that "smack on the head" to straighten some of us out. I still remember his magic house post. It is unapologetic -- the way it should be.

                                              By the way, thanks Adagio and souschef for your comments.

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                Your mention of Sam brought back memories of moh, another Chowhound who was taken from us, and whom I had the immense pleasure of meeting, but once only. I still miss reading her.

                                                1. re: souschef

                                                  Moh was wonderful, in so many ways.

                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                    Oh sourchef and buttertart,

                                                    I have read posts from moh, but I didn't know Moh has "'left' us.

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      Forget it. I do remember Moh now. Sorry. I did take some thinking and remainders.