This is the recipe for the puff pastry dough that I used to
make both savory snacks like my shitake-feta
burekas, but also
for desserts like apple
turnovers or sour
cherry strudel. Puff pastry is really
an English euphemism; the French call it pâte feuilletée but
the German word “butterteig” gives
you a better idea of its main ingredient! The recipe here based
on my Hungarian mother-in-law’s
recipe but is supplemented by some measurements from Rick Rodgers’ excellent Kaffeehaus book.
The secret is the rum, which gives the dough more flakiness!
In a large bowl mix the flour and salt together, and make
a well in the center. In a cup, mix the rum and cold water.
Now incorporate this liquid mix into the well, a little at
a time, to make the dough. You can add a little more water
if necessary to incorporate all the flour. Knead the dough
briefly to make it even, but realize that the dough will still
be a bit sticky and rough-looking. Roll it out into a 15cm
(6 in) square and cover well with plastic wrap. Place it in
the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
For the butter mixture, cut the butter into little ½-inch
cubes. Combine it well with an extra 50g of flour. Then place
the mixture in plastic wrap and, using a rolling pin, shape
it into a square a bit smaller than the dough (about 12cm or
5.5in). Stick this in the refrigerator if necessary. Remember,
we want the dough and butter to be about the same temperature
(60ºF) when we work with them.
With your dough cool and rested, roll it out onto a flour-dusted
surface, making a 20cm (8 in) square. Place the unwrapped butter-square
in the center, as a diamond inscribed in the dough square.
Mark the perimeter of the butter-square on the dough and remove
the butter square. Now roll out the dough from each mark using
a rolling pin, making “petals”.
Replace the butter-square
in the center of the dough and fold the petals over, covering
it completely. If some butter seems to be peeking out, throw
on some flour to cover it up.
Rolling & Folding
Read these instructions and study the photos a couple of
times until you can visualize it in your head:
Single turn: Roll out the dough into a tall rectangle,
twice as long as it is wide (about 36x18cm or 14x7in).
off any extra flour (extra flour hardens the dough) and keep
a proper shape with nice right-angled corners. Now fold the
dough like a business letter: fold the top third down and the
bottom third up, making a three-layer rectangle about 12x18cm
Turn the dough to the left, so that the long side is now top
Double turn: Dust the dough with flour and roll it
out again into the long rectangle (36x18cm or 14x7in). Brush
off the extra flour and fix the right angles. Now fold the
dough in this manner: fold the top quarter down, and then the
bottom quarter up. You’ll have a crease in the center
where they meet. Fold the dough one more time at this crease
creating a 4-layer rectangle 9x18cm (3.5x7in).
dough a bit with your hands and make it even. Then wrap it
in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Once your dough is rested and cooled, dust it again with flour
and perform another single turn and another double turn. Finally,
wrap it in plastic wrap and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator
(or at least 4 hours).
Using your puff pastry dough
When you’re ready to use the dough (within 3 days),
pull it out of the refrigerator and let it thaw a little bit
so that you can roll it out easily. Your dough is still in
its folded brick form, so you’ll need to roll it out
into a giant rectangle, making the dough as thin as your recipe
calls for (usually 1/8” thick).
If you can use European-style
butter, it will
come out better because there is less water content.
You have to keep the dough
and butter cold at
all times, around 60ºF is supposedly ideal—that’s warmer than the refrigerator,
but less than room temperature. If it’s too warm, the butter
melts into the dough and if it’s too cold, it breaks the dough
The dough’s shape is very important because you need to keep
folding it evenly, so keep the edges at right angles throughout as
best you can. Remember that puff pastry “puffs” because
you are creating tens of layers of dough and butter
by folding. In the oven the butter boils, creating
steam and raising the successive layers.