Buttery, flaky, rough puff pastry: With a fraction of the time and effort of traditional puff pastry and a taste so good you’ll forget it’s not “authentic.”
Anyone who has experience in making puff pastry from scratch will tell you that it’s hard work. The process of turning a cold block of butter into hundreds of whisper thin layers without letting the dough melt (if it gets too warm) or break (if it gets too cold) takes a lot of patience and a lot of arm work.
On the other hand, frozen puff pastry from the grocery store simply requires that you follow the directions to thaw it out correctly. While it may be so much easier, it doesn’t allow you to control the ingredients, or their quality.
Being someone who loves a challenge and loves to bake, neither of the above options were right for me. So I started digging and discovered something called rough puff pastry, aka blitz pastry, aka easy puff pastry. While it might not be authentic enough to win a baking contest in Paris, it is just the ticket for creating delectable, buttery, pastry delights here at home.
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The biggest difference between rough puff pastry and classic puff pastry is that in the rough version you break the butter up into small pieces before combining with the flour, instead of incorporating as one large slab of butter.
Some bakers do this by chopping the butter into cubes, some use a pastry cutter, some use a couple of forks. I opted for a combination of chopped cubes and the food processor. It’s quick, which means that the butter stays cold, and it’s efficient in that it takes less than 2 minutes to mix the dough.
The biggest similarity in the two types of puff pastry is the list of ingredients. Puff pastry is typically made with four simple ingredients: unsalted butter, flour, salt, and water. Technically the version pictured has 3 because I was too lazy to go to the store and buy unsalted butter. Haha! Joking aside, you can make this with salted or unsalted butter. If you do choose to use salted butter, be sure to omit the added salt in the recipe.
The picture above shows the step by step instructions for mixing the dough. The bottom two pictures are what the dough should look like after the butter is pulsed (left) and after the water is added (right).
I measured my ingredients by weight, but provided the volume measurements for those of you who don’t have a scale. In all baking, weight measurements are much more precise and I highly recommend getting a cheap kitchen scale. You’ll probably end up using it more than you thought.
Once the dough is mixed, it will be rolled out like classic puff pastry. On a lightly floured surface shape the dough into a rough rectangle and roll it into a longer rectangle until it’s about 1/2″ thick. Fold the top down, then fold the bottom up. Turn the dough by 90 degrees and start the process again. Repeat this until you have rolled and folded 6 times. This repetition is what gives us our flaky layers – 729 of them to be exact.
The rolling process isn’t exactly difficult, but it is where things can get tricky. You need some flour to keep things from sticking, but if the dough starts to break apart and stick anyway it means that the dough is too warm. Here are a couple of examples:
I found that on a cold morning, in my cold kitchen, with my cold granite countertops I was able to go straight from the food processor into the rolling phase and do all 6 roll outs without my pastry falling apart. Total time: 15 minutes.
On a cold day with my oven going at 425 degrees, I could get two roll outs done before layers of the dough started to stick to my work surface. I placed the dough on a plate, covered it with a damp tea towel, and placed it in the freezer for 10 minutes. Set a timer so that you don’t forget about it! Total time: 25 minutes.
On a warm day with the windows open and the oven running, the dough could barely be rolled once before starting to stick. I had to let it rest in the freezer after the 1st, 3rd, and 5th roll out, for 10 minutes each time. Total time: 45 minutes.
Bottom line: the colder it is in your kitchen the more quickly this dough will come together. The 15 minute time estimate on the recipe is based on my experience in a cold kitchen. If you are working in a warm environment, be sure to add extra time to chill the dough as you move through the rolling out process.
This puff pastry must be chilled in the fridge for at LEAST one hour before shaping, stuffing, or baking. If you plan to chill it between 1 – 3 hours, cover it with a damp cloth. If you plan to chill for longer, up to 3 days, cover it with plastic wrap or place in a reusable airtight container to keep it from drying out or absorbing smells from the fridge. If you want to keep the dough longer than 3 days freeze it in that same airtight container, then thaw overnight in the fridge.
This rough puff pastry can be used anywhere you would use traditional puff pastry. If you have any questions about the process, please ask in the comments below!
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Rough Puff Pastry
Buttery, flaky, rough puff pastry: With a fraction of the time and effort of traditional puff pastry and a taste so good you'll forget it's not "authentic."
- 5 ounces all-purpose flour 1 cup
- 1/4 tsp salt finely ground
- 5 ounces cold unsalted butter 10 TSBP
- 1/3 cup water ice cold
Measure flour and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse twice to combine.
Cut the butter into cubes and place into the food processor. Pulse 25 - 30 times, or until butter is in small chunks and resembles wet sand.
While pulsing an additional 8 - 10 times slowly pour in the water. The dough should still be crumbly, but should start to come together.
Dump the dough out onto a clean work surface and press together until it becomes a dough ball.
Lightly flour the work surface, then shape the dough into a long rectangle. Roll it out into a longer rectangle until it's about 1/2 inch thick. Fold the top 1/3 down towards the middle, then fold the bottom 1/3 up towards the middle to create an envelope type shape. Turn it 90 degrees so that the openings are at the top and bottom. This completes 1 roll out.
Check your work surface and add more flour if necessary. Roll the dough into a long rectangle again, until it's about 1/2 inch thick. Fold the top 1/3 down towards the middle, then fold the bottom 1/3 up towards the middle to create an envelope type shape. Turn it 90 degrees so that the openings are at the top and bottom. This completes 2 roll outs.
Repeat until you have completed 6 total roll outs. *See notes about chilling dough as necessary throughout the process.*
Cover the dough with a damp towel and refrigerate for at least one hour prior to using. **See notes about longer storage times.**
*If the dough begins to break apart and stick to the work surface it may be to warm. Mark the number of roll outs on top of the dough by creating an indent with your finger. Place it on a plate, cover it with a damp tea towel, and place in the freezer for 10 minutes to chill. Pick up with the roll outs right where you left off. On a warm day you may have to stop every two roll outs to let the dough chill.
**If you plan to chill the dough longer than 3 hours, place it in an airtight container or wrap it in plastic wrap to prevent drying out or absorbing other odors from your fridge. It can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. For longer storage, place the dough in the freezer for up to 3 months.