Fifteen Spatulas

From Scratch Puff Pastry (with Ham and Cheese)

Puff pastry is known to be one of those intimidating foods, isn’t it?  I was certainly bracing myself for disaster when I tried making it today for the first time ever.  But after making it, I have to say, making puff pastry from scratch is not hard.  Yes, I am an experienced cook, but I’m telling you, it’s not difficult.  The hardest part about making puff pastry from scratch is that there aren’t any recipes that really explain what you’re doing (bad directions, and no pictures to guide you), so I’m about to fix that for you, because homemade puff pastry is just incredible. Puff pastry reminds me of bread, in the sense where people think bread is hard to make, but it’s not, it just takes several steps of letting the bread rise repeatedly.  Like bread, puff pastry isn’t difficult, it just has to be popped back into the fridge frequently so the butter doesn’t get too warm (I would say puff pastry is more time consuming than difficult).


Start by making the dough:

Let the dough relax, then roll it out into a rectangle. Place flattened out sticks of butter onto the rectangle:

Fold your dough over in half, and seal the dough all around it, so the butter is completely encased in dough.  Make sure it’s closed up well, and try not to get any air bubbles in there, so your butter is less likely to break through.

Roll your butter encased dough out into a long rectangle:

Fold one third over, like shown in the following picture.  Then take the other third, and fold that over on top of the center:

You end up with a folded up “letter” of pastry dough.  Turn the dough 90 degrees, and do the same thing again.   Roll the dough out into a long rectangle, fold 1/3 of it in, then fold the other 1/3 over, and then wrap it up and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes:

After the puff pastry has gotten a chance to chill for a bit, repeat the folding and turning process two more times.  Then refrigerate again for 30 minutes.  Then two more folds/turns, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Now, it’s ready to be rolled out and used for whatever recipe you are making.  I brushed the dough with coarse ground mustard, stuck about 1/3 pound of black forest ham in there, 1/4 pound of thinly sliced parmigiano reggiano, and grated over some pecorino romano:

I egg washed the edges, folded it in half to close it up, crimped the edges with a fork, egg washed the top, and baked at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes:

 

Puff Pastry

Ingredients:

2.5 cups bread flour (13 oz)
1.25 tsp sea salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature (65 degrees). It needs to be malleable, but not melting at all.
1 cup water

Directions:

Whisk together the flour and salt to combine, then in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, slowly pour the water into the salted flour with the mixer on low (you could also do this by hand if you don't have a stand mixer). Dump the dough onto the counter, and shape it into a ball. Cover with a damp towel.

Stick the butter between two pieces of plastic wrap, and pound/roll the butter out into a big rectangle with a rolling pin. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, so it can firm up.

Flour your countertop, and roll the dough out into a big rectangle, larger than your butter rectangle (don't roll the dough out so thinly that you risk the butter breaking through the dough...let's say no less than 1/4 inch). Put the butter rectangle into the center. Fold your dough over in half, and seal the dough all around it, so the butter is completely encased in dough. Make sure it's closed up well, and try not to get any air bubbles in there, so your butter is less likely to break through.

Now we get to the "turning" part of the process, where we work to develop those thousands of layers of flaky pastry. Basically the trick to getting those tiny little flaky layers is to repeatedly fold the dough into thirds (like a letter), turn the dough 90 degrees, and repeat the process. I know, reading about it can be confusing, so make sure to take a look at the blog post photos.

First, roll your butter encased dough out into a long rectangle. Fold one third over, then take the other third, and fold that over on top of the center. You end up with a folded up "letter" of pastry dough. Turn the dough 90 degrees, and do the same thing again. Roll the dough out into a long rectangle, fold 1/3 of it in, then fold the other 1/3 over, and then wrap it up and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

After the puff pastry has gotten a chance to chill for a bit, repeat the folding and turning process two more times. Then refrigerate again for 30 minutes. Then two more folds/turns, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Now, it's ready to be rolled out and used for whatever recipe you are making. I brushed the dough with coarse ground mustard, stuck about 1/3 pound of black forest ham in there, 1/4 pound of thinly sliced parmigiano reggiano, and grated over some pecorino romano.

I egg washed the edges, folded it in half to close it up, crimped the edges with a fork, egg washed the top, and baked at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

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Comments

  1. startingoveringermany posted on February 4, 2011 at 11:42 am (#)

    that is the biggest puff pastry I ever seen. But it look so good!

  2. Amanda @ bakingwithoutabox posted on February 4, 2011 at 1:03 pm (#)

    Amazing! As always. Now I want to try some. Love that “as is” flaky golden goodness in the photos. Thank for the step-by-step photos!

  3. Samantha Ullrich posted on February 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm (#)

    You make it look so easy! Question: Is rolling out the butter hard? I feel like it would get too soft to roll out like that. Do you start with it cold?

    • fifteenspatulas replied on February 4th, 2011 at 5:33 pm

      Hey Samantha! Unlike with something like pie crust where the butter needs to be very cold, puff pastry butter should be around 65 degrees (room temperature). It shouldn’t be soft…the best way I can describe it is “malleable,” and cold hard butter will not be malleable like room temperature butter. After you pound it out, you refrigerate the butter so it can harden up a bit before you start the turning process. Does that help or no?

      • quickfeetgoodeats replied on February 5th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

        Definitely does, thanks!

  4. creativeisthmus posted on February 5, 2011 at 1:53 pm (#)

    Oo, looks so yummy! Do you think I’d need to modify anything if I was going to put veggies like mushrooms or spinach in the middle? I have had some experiences where the veggies turn things like Quiche into watery goo…

    • fifteenspatulas replied on February 5th, 2011 at 1:56 pm

      Mushrooms and spinach are both VERY watery vegetables, so you will need to cook them pretty well beforehand to get rid of that water. Otherwise, all of that liquid will be released into your puff pastry while it cooks (and I think this is probably what happened with your quiche). You don’t want soggy puff pastry! This should help. Let me know how it turns out!

  5. Lori posted on May 16, 2012 at 8:06 am (#)

    Would you use this to make homemade Palmiers? I’ve been looking to recreate those ever since I had them at Jean Phillipe.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on May 16th, 2012 at 9:11 am

      ooo that’s a great question. You do use puff pastry to make palmiers…so I think this would work. I’ve never tried it though. One thing I do have to say is machine made frozen puff pastry is typically drier and flakier so it may be better in that sense, but it doesn’t taste as good because it’s made with hydrogenated oils/shortening and not butter. Let me know if you try this…I definitely will be and will let you know when I do!

  6. Beverly Kendrick posted on November 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm (#)

    I want to try this using gluten free flour, but using your steps. Any comments?

    Thank you.
    Beverly Kendrick

  7. Beverly Kendrick posted on November 27, 2012 at 6:56 pm (#)

    There is at least one flour in Better batter I can’t have. I think it is rice rice. I will double check. I can use millet instead I think.

    Thank you for replying quickly.
    Bev

  8. Linda posted on March 10, 2013 at 10:29 am (#)

    I notice the recipe has no yeast. Is that correct?

    • Joanne Ozug replied on March 10th, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      That’s right, no yeast. It gets its rise from the evaporation of the water from the butter.

  9. Myrtle posted on June 29, 2013 at 4:05 pm (#)

    This looks fantastic!! Just one question: when you say “repeat the folding/turning process” do you roll out your chilled and folded dough, and then repeat, or do you just keep folding until it’s really tall and small?

    • Joanne Ozug replied on June 30th, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      Hey Myrtle! It means you should do two more “sessions” of the rolling out/folding, turn, rolling out/folding, turn, then 30 minute chill. So 3 “sessions” total of that. I have a feeling this post needs a video. I’m going to put it on my list!

      • Myrtle replied on July 1st, 2013 at 1:27 am

        Great, good. That’s what I did, and it turned out really well!!! Thanks so much, the pictures especially helped a lot. :)

  10. Heather posted on March 20, 2014 at 1:51 pm (#)

    I have a pulled muscle in my shoulder, but am going to try this tonight for supper. To cope with the sore shoulder, I’m going to try a different method for rolling it out. I’m going to put the dough in one baking sheet, set the second on top and put pressure on it to produce the rolling pin effect.

    I’m posting this before I do it in case anyone else has tried that and knows that won’t work out. I’ll post back with my results unless anyone says it’s not a good method to try.

    • Joanne Ozug replied on March 20th, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      Hi Heather, I’m sorry to hear you pulled a muscle in your shoulder. Unfortunately I don’t anticipate the method you described working well for this recipe, as it really requires a lot of rolling.

      • Heather replied on March 21st, 2014 at 11:41 am

        Also, I used cheddar cheese sauce and ham chunks in mine. So the cheese sauce added more moisture. Trial and error :)