I freely admit it: This recipe is a bit of a challenge, yet it’s so very worth it. Homemade puff pastry, or pâte feuilletée, just can’t be beat. These buttery, flaky layers of dough can be used to make fruit-filled turnovers, caramelized palmiers (tiny elephant ear-like cookies), the crust for chicken pot pies, layers for Napoleons, cheese straws and so much more. Better yet, the finished dough can be frozen for weeks and used whenever you need it.
Here, I’m teaching the blitz method of making puff pastry. When making a traditional puff pastry, a big block of butter is rolled and folded between layers of dough. For blitz puff pastry, you cube the butter and work it into the flour mixture, similar to how you make pie dough. This method is faster and virtually foolproof; the trick is laminating the dough, which requires alternating rolling the dough out to a specific size and thickness, and then folding it over itself again and again. Puff pastry is made with a book fold, as opposed to the letter fold used to make other laminated doughs, such as croissants or Danishes.
Puff pastry sheets bake best from frozen dough, or at the very least, chilled in the refrigerator. Lastly, a hot oven will yield the best bake; 400°F is a good all-purpose temperature.
Foolproof Blitz Puff Pastry
A mix of bread and cake flours is best to achieve the correct gluten content, although pastry flour is a great alternative; all-purpose flour can be used in a pinch. It’s imperative that the butter and water are cold – and yes, one whole pound of butter is needed!
The two sheets of puff pastry that this recipe yields can be used in myriad ways: to top four pot pies, make two Napoleons, 16 turnovers or 36 cheese straws. Use an egg wash on top of turnovers and pot pies to brown.
Yields | 2 12-by-18-inch sheets |
- 1¾ cups bread flour
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 lb (4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed into 1-inch pieces
- 1¼ tsp white or apple cider vinegar
- 1 to 1¼ cups cold water, divided
| Preparation – Dough | In a large mixing bowl, combine flours and salt. Add cold, cubed butter into dry ingredients by hand, working and smearing until approximately half of butter is mixed in completely, with the rest still in walnut-sized pieces. Gently add vinegar and 1 cup water to dough, just enough to moisten flour; add remaining water if any flour is still dry. Dough should be very shaggy and not a uniform consistency. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, forming an 8-by-10-inch rectangle; refrigerate 20 minutes.
| Preparation – Lamination | On a large, floured work surface, roll chilled dough until about 12 inches wide, 18 inches long and ¼ inch thick. Dust off excess flour. Fold both short ends into the center and close like a book; this is your first book fold. The rectangle should now be 4½-inches-by-12-inches. Rotate dough 180 degrees, flour both sides and roll out to 12-by-18-by-¼ inches. Dust off flour and do a second book fold; repeat once more for a total of 3 book folds. If at any point dough is fighting back, give it a brief rest in the refrigerator. After the final fold, dust off excess flour, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
On a well-floured work surface, roll chilled puff pastry to 18-by-24-inches and ¹⁄₈-inches thick. Cut in half, yielding 2 sheets. Dough can be refrigerated, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days, or frozen for a month.