Michel Roux’s Puff Pastry

Posted 20 November 2011 by

Puff pastry — lovely rich, buttery, flaky… don’t you just love it? I do! Not the healthiest thing in the world, but if you’re going to have it, you might as well have it made with butter. Here in the UK it’s surprisingly difficult to find ready made puff pastry in supermarkets that is actually made with butter. The brand sold in most places is full of all kinds of rubbish. A young lady on a recent episode of Come Dine With Me claimed that “puff pastry is so difficult to make that even top chefs buy it ready-made!” I hope not! Or at least, I hope they are buying the good stuff. The truth is, puff pastry is not that difficult to make yourself. It takes a little effort, and some time, but it’s not hard. Plus, most of the time consuming part is when the pastry is relaxing in the fridge, at which time you can relax too!

This is Michel Roux’s recipe for classic puff pastry from his book Pastry. (Check out his recipe for shortcrust pastry too.) This puff pastry is delicious and you can really taste the butter, so if you’re a real butter connoisseur, this is a good time to use good quality butter. I often start it the day before I need it, and one of the resting periods can be overnight. Once you have it, you can use it for all manner of delicious buttery pastry treats, including pies, palmiers and feuilletés.

Ingredients:

  • 500 g plain flour
  • 12 g salt
  • 25 ml white wine vinegar
  • 200 ml ice-cold water
  • 50 g melted unsalted butter
  • 400 g cold unsalted butter

Put the flour on  your work surface (everything should be as cold as possible: surface, butter, hands…) and make a well in the middle of it. Place the salt, melted butter, white wine vinegar and water into the well. It can be quite tricky to make the well big enough to hold all the liquid, so be careful of it all spilling out.

Plain flour with a well containing melted butter to make puff pastry

Gradually mix the flour into the other ingredients to form a dough. Form the pastry dough into a ball, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for at least two hours.

A ball of dough that will make all butter puff pastry

Form the dough into a ball, but don’t knead it.

Begin to roll out the cold dough. Roll the top, bottom, left and right a bit thinner so it looks like there are four flaps.

Puff pastry dough rolled out with four flaps

Roll the four “flaps” out thinner than the central square

Smack the cold butter around a bit with a rolling pin. This makes it much more pliable and the whole thing is easier to roll. Place the butter onto the middle square of the pastry dough and fold up the flaps around it, as if you are wrapping a present.

Puff pastry dough folded around blocks of butter

Carefully roll the dough into a rectangle (Michel recommends about 70×40 cm). It might be hard work, and the butter might squidge out in places, but don’t worry, just keep rolling.

Puff pastry being rolled out with a rolling pin

Keep dusting with flour if it’s too sticky. Fold each end (long edges of rectangle) over to the middle, making three layers. Turn the pastry around one quarter and roll it into another rectangle. Fold the sides up again, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for at least an hour. If you want to freeze the pastry, this is probably the best stage to do so, finishing it off once you’ve thawed it.

Roll out the puff pastry and fold it up twice more, and refrigerate for another hour. It’s now ready to use.

Easy puff pastry “tart” with goat’s cheese and caramelised onions.

 

 

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5 Responses to Michel Roux’s Puff Pastry

  1. Adrienne Ruiz says:

    I’m a convert, I’ve used this recipe on numerous occasions, and although you need the time to keep chilling the pastry (and i neve seem to get mine as neat) it is absolutely fabulous, woud never use another recipe ever again

    • Debbie says:

      Thanks Adrienne for your comment. I agree, although it’s actually the only recipe I’ve tried. It really is delicious though!

  2. Patrick Gauthier says:

    First time I made puff pastry and it turned out pretty good. That being said, for other would be first time puff pâtissiers, I have a few tips I wish I had had before starting. It must be stressed to not over roll the pastry in the early stages. I found the first few folds very difficult because I was foolish and didn’t measure a 70 x 40 section as a reference( make a few measurements instead of eyeballing it, like I did). If anything, roll it smaller. Also, it may have been easier for a rookie like me to flatten the butter into a sheet before wrapping it up with the dough, as I have seen recommended in a few other recipes. The dough and butter warmed up having to roll a taller butter layer. That being said, temperature is huge, if it gets too warm, even mid roll, put it back in the fridge to cool off before continuing. Also. while referencing a few other recipes (after I noticed my dough was splitting because I was rolling it too thin at first), I noticed a few stressed the importance of having the butter and dough the same consistency for their first date. Also, it seems no recipes I’ve found give tips for what to do in the event things don’t work out perfectly. My dough was splitting for two reasons, a) I rolled it too thin at the beginning, and b) the dough was slightly dry, even though I added about 215 mL of water. Be aware of inconsistent measurements between utensils and equipment. What I did to salvage a potentially garbage bound puff pastry was include another 3 folding stages after I realized I messed up after the second set. The pastry was salvaged, but was a bit more ‘rough puff’ than I imaging it should have been.

    This is a great recipe, I used it for a wellington and am very satisfied with the results, even considering the above mentioned difficulties. Thank you for posting this!

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