On Coquinaria are several historical recipes for puff pastry. On this page is a modern version. While I was searching online I saw some recipes for puff pastry that are actually just for flaky dough. Puff pastry is a kind of flaky dough, but to make puff pastry it takes something extra. Because just folding and rolling out several times flaky dough is not enough.
Modern puff pastry is made with a lot of butter and without eggs, although the puff pastry from Lancelot de Casteau does contain eggs. The basic dough for puff pastry is made with butter, and during the first time the dough is rolled out, extra butter is added. The butter must remain visible in the dough. During the baking process the butter separates the dough into very thin layers. There are several methods to add the butter. The French method is (naturally) the most exquisite but also the most complicated. The German method is rather unwieldy, the Dutch method is more simple and handy, but of course my own method is not bad at all. The recipe below is inspired by the recipe for puff pastry by Glasse and Farley from the eighteenth and nineteenth century.
- French puff pastry – Make a flaky dough with 20% of the total weight of flour in butter, and let it rest for a half hour in the refrigerator. Then roll out the dough and put a large square lump of butter on it. Fold the dough over the butter and roll it out again. Fold in three and roll out once more. Fold again and let rest for a half hour.
- German puff pastry – Prepare a dough with just flour and water (let it rest for a half hour), and a second dough with 20% of the total weight of flour in butter. Roll out the water dough, roll out the butter dough (on baking paper), and put that on one half of the sheet of water dough. Fold the other half of the water dough over the butter dough and seal the edges with water. Roll out the dough, fold, let rest, et cetera.
- Dutch puff pastry – Make a flaky dough with 20% of the total weight of flour in butter, and let it rest for a half hour in the refrigerator. Then knead the rest of the butter in small pieces through the dough, take care that the butter pieces remain visible. Roll out, fold, let rest, et cetera.
- My puff pastry – Make a flaky dough with 20% of the total weight of flour in butter, and let it rest for a half hour in the refrigerator. Roll out the dough, and cover one half with thin slices of cold butter. Fold the other half of the dough over the butter. Roll out, fold, let rest, et cetera.
My puff pastry recipe in detail
250 gr (2 cups) sifted flour
50 gr (3 Tbsp + 1 tsp) cold butter in small cubes
½ tsp salt
1⅜ dl ice cold water (137 gr)
120 to 150 gr cold butter, thinly sliced
Put the water in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (especially during summer!).
Sift the flour, dice the butter. I always add a little flour to the butter to prevent the lumps of butter sticking together.
Knead flour, salt and water into a dough, than add the pieces of butter and knead again. The butter must remain visible. Cover the dough and let is rest for a half hour in the refrigerator.
Sprinkle some flour on the worktop. Roll out the dough to a more or less rectangular sheet. Use a slicer or knife to cut thin slices from a stick of butter, and cover one half of the dough with them. Leave ½ to 1 inch (1 to 2 cm) free around the edges. Fold the other half over the butter slices, press the edges to seal the butter inside. Roll the dough out again, fold it and let rest, wrapped in plastic foil, in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Then take the dough out again and roll out once more: first in one direction, fold, then in the other direction (at 90° angle). Repeat two more times.
Puff pastry can be baked at high temperatures, as it does not contain any sugar (220 °C/430 °F or more). It takes about 20 minutes to bake puff pastry. This has consequences for the stuffing: it has to be done in that time too.
Puff pastry dough is easy to freeze, but do that as a sheet, and not as a big round ball of dough.