Puff pastry is a light flaky pastry made from thin sheets of dough that are baked with layers of butter that melt as it's cooked leaving airy pockets in the pastry. While it's similar to the Middler Eastern phyllo, the recipe for puffed pastry was perfected in France. Culinary historians believe that the original recipe may have come from Muslim Spain sometime before the 1700's.
Puff Pastry Storage
Homemade and thawed frozen puff pastry may be stored in the refrigerator for several days. Be sure it is sealed in plastic wrap. Puff pastry may be frozen up to 1 month.
Puff Pastry Cooking Tips
- Avoid making puff pastry on hot, humid days.
- Using 1 part cake flour to 3 parts all-purpose flour will produce a lighter pastry.
- Use unsalted butter for homemade puff pastry. Salted butter takes longer to boil, which will affect the rise.
- Do not use whipped (spreadable) butter for puff pastry. Margarine will not work as it has too much water added. Lard is an acceptable substitute in puff pastry for savory dishes.
- When working with puff pastry, keeping it cold is crucial. You do not want the butter to melt prematurely. Work quickly with one piece at a time and keep the rest covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Your tools and working area should also be kept cold.
- Puff pastry relies upon heat for lift. Preheat your oven to the desired temperature at least 15 to 20 minutes before you plan on using it.
- Use a very sharp hot knife or pastry/pizza wheel to cut puff pastry, and be sure to cut straight down and not at an angle. Using a dull implement will fuse the layers together and thwart rising.
- After you cut puff pastry, the side that was up when you cut should be down on the baking pan.
- Save any scraps for other uses such as cookies, appetizer crisps, or decorations, but do not re-roll them together. Any re-rolled dough will not rise properly.
- An egg wash glaze can be used, but be certain it does not drip down on any of the cut sides. The egg wash can fuse the edges together, interfering with the rise.
- Plan ahead with frozen puff pastry. Let it thaw in the refrigerator.
- Never use a folded edge of puff pastry. All edges should be cut or it will not rise.
- Brush off any bench flour with a soft, dry pastry brush before filling or cutting.
- If you want to reduce the rise of puff pastry, prick it all over with a fork to allow steam to escape.
- Puff pastry may be baked first and then filled or filled and then baked.
- All fillings should be at room temperature to avoid premature melting of the puff pastry buttery layers.