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Can I make puff dough?
All About Puff Pastry, with How to Turn it & Recipes

By Renee Shelton
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Puff pastry is found in the frozen foods section of the markets, sheeted and ready for you to cut out. Save yourself a trip to the market and create a better product at home by making puff pastry yourself. Puff dough, or puff pastry, is a relatively easy pastry dough to make. All you need is how to create the turns to make the layers of the pastry.

The key to puff pastry is the individual layers. The reason it bakes up so high and with so many very thin layers is each is separeted by butter. Butter and dough are folded multiple times in a certain fashion so as to not mix the two together, but keep them separated.

Puff pastry basically consistes of two separate parts: the dough and the butter. A trick to making puff dough is having the butter and dough at the same firmness or texture to begin with: the dough shouldn't be too soft or elastic, and the butter shouldn't be rock hard or too soft. If either one is off, you'll end up just kneading the two ingredients together rather than folding them into each other.

Read the recipe carefully when making puff dough. Some recipes will call for specifically unsalted, plugra, melted butter, or unsalted margarine. Whatever is called for in the recipe you are reading, follow it as the tester has created a particular formulation to create an even finished product. Plugra butter is a brand name for European style butter, a butter with a high fat content and less water.

Some recipes are specially made for vegans, and will call for unsalted margarine. Choose one with zero trans fats or non-hydrongenated. Since margarine and whole butter will have different liquid content, don't interchange one for the other. Look for a recipe specially made using that type of fat. The recipe from Vegan Baking is a really great recipe for puff dough completely vegan.

Below are two recipes for puff pastry. The first is a traditional puff dough recipe, with diagrams of how to fold. The second is an inverse dough puff pastry recipe. It is an industry recipe, so the quantity is suitable for large, professional settings.

Puff Pastry

2 c unsalted butter
4 c flour
1 t salt
1 1/2 c water (may not use it all)

Knead by hand the butter until it is waxy. Shape the butter into a flat, square cake, wrap in foil and chill. Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Gradually add in the water and knead on a smooth floured surface until dough is elastic, about 20 minutes. Wrap the dough in foil; chill for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a square 1/2" thick. Roll the edges a little thinner than the center. Lightly flour the square of butter and place it in the center of the dough at an angle. Fold the 4 edges of the dough over the butter:

Straighten the dough square and proceed to roll out dough into a rectangle, rolling forward only in one direction, until the rectangle is roughly 8" by 16":

If the dough tears at all, take a little piece from the edges and patch up the whole immediately. This is important as this will trap in any air as the layers are built. Fold the top third of the dough toward you, making the ends as neat as possible, then fold the last third away from you, making three layers of the dough:

You now have three layers. Take this folded rectangle and give it a quarter-turn, so that the unfolded edge is facing you and the folded edges are facing your sides:

Roll out in one direction, until the dough is roughly the same as the first rectangle, about 8" by 16". You have just finished with one "turn." Wrap this dough and place in the refrigerator. Chill for 30 minutes. Unwrap dough and proceed as above with the rolling, folding and re-rolling and folding. You need to finish 4 more "turns" for the dough, chilling for 30 minutes between each turn so butter is firm enough and dough is stable enough to roll out. Always be sure that the unfolded edge of the dough is facing you.

Use this puff pastry dough for any recipe calling for puff dough.


Inverse Puff Dough (large batch)
Makes 2 Patons. NOTE: Plugra butter contains less water, so changing the butter would ultimately change the finished product.

Flour AP        2# 10 oz.     Mix together.              
Plugra Butter   6# 12 oz.     Divide in half.
  (no substitutions)                  Chill.

Flour Bread     6# 8 oz.      Mix until
Salt            2 oz.         forms ball.
Water           40 oz.        Do not
Vinegar         1/2 oz.       Overmix.
Melted Butter   2 #           Divide in half.

Place butter mixture on the outside, bread flour mixture on the inside. Seal edges and chill well. Roll out into long rectangle, a sheeter will be necessary to assist you. You need to do 3 times of double turns.

Chill well after each turn before completing next. After the double turns are completed, roll out and fold in half. Ready for use or for the freezer.

References used:

From the recipe files of Renee Shelton.

Editors of Horizon Magazine. The Horizon Cookbook and Illustrated History of Eating and Drinking
     though the Ages. Part Two. Ed. in charge Wendy Buehr. US: American, 1968.

Copyright © 2004-2010 Renee Shelton.
All Rights Reserved.


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