Baking is an exact science that requires pastry chefs and bakers to follow recipes to a tee. This precision is especially crucial when attempting an advanced recipe involving puff pastry. Many people think making flaky baked goods is intimidating, and while the process is time-consuming, its success relies on sticking to a formula and having endless patience. It sounds simple enough.
Making puff pastry from scratch is a rite of passage for home and professional bakers. Fortunately, readymade versions are conveniently available for those who can't quite commit to making laminated dough just yet. Learn more about using puff pastry for your recipes with the tips below.
What Is Puff Pastry?
Puff pastry is a light, flaky pastry made from alternating layers of butter and dough. The standard puff pastry recipe combines butter, salt, water, and flour. The process is theoretically simple but wrapping a cold block of butter in the dough requires repetitive rolling and folding. The goal is to have hundreds of layers of pastry folded pastry dough.
Again, don't feel pressured to use a store-bought one – even professionals do it.
Puff Pastry Dos and Don’ts
Whether working with store-bought or homemade laminated dough, remember these tips, especially if you're trying it for the first time. Ready to get things rolling?
Watch how you thaw frozen dough.
Don’t: Forcibly separate or unfold frozen pastry. No matter how eager you are to make tuna melt pie, thaw the dough first. When you rush, you risk cracking or breaking the delicate layers.
Do: Treat pastry dough with patience. To get the best results, thaw the pastry overnight in the refrigerator. If you forget to do this the night before, leave it at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Work on the dough only when it's pliable.
Prepare a suitable work surface.
Don’t: Forget to roll out puff pastry. Neglecting to roll out the dough can result in uneven thickness.
Do: Remember that a floured work surface keeps the dough from sticking. Lightly dusting flour on the counter and rolling pin should do the trick. Once you're done evening out the surface and reaching your desired size, brush off excess flour.
Hand the dough with a light hand.
Don’t: Work the dough too much. Overhandling your puff pastry can develop into a thick crunch instead of a light crispness.
Do: Be efficient when rolling, cutting, and shaping the dough. Be gentle and handle it as little as possible. Only work on one pastry sheet at a time. Keep the rest refrigerated until needed.
Manage your filling.
Don’t: Weigh down your delicate puff pastry. Excess liquids from fillings and toppings can cause the outcome to be soggy.
Do: Choose your pastry add-ons wisely. Insert just the right amount so the crust doesn't break. If you are making empanadas, go easy on the filling. You don't need to overstuff your pie to get your point across. Add a Knorr Pork Cube to make your stuffing extra tasty.
Give the pastries an egg wash.
Don’t: Skip the egg wash. It may seem like an unnecessary step, but it will give your baked goods a mouthwatering luster.
Do: Get a nice golden-brown crust by brushing the pastry with an egg wash. To make the wash, whisk one egg with a tablespoon of water. Look for a thin consistency with the yolk and whites well incorporated. Use a pastry brush to coat the formed dough with the mixture lightly. Do this just before baking your chicken pastel, apple pie, turnover, or croissant.
Set the correct baking temperature.
Don’t: Go too hard. You may be excited to finish your puff pizza recipe, but raising the temperature won't cook it faster. Follow the directions or instructions for whatever you're baking to get the best results. Wrong temperatures can cause your pastry to sink.
Do: Keep the oven at 400°F (204°C) to get the pastry to rise. High temperature produces steam which gives the puff pastry, well, its puff.
Storing puff pastry
Don’t: Leave unused pastry dough in the fridge. Homemade pastry dough can only last three days in the refrigerator – and only under optimal conditions.
Do: Wrap it tightly in plastic if you're not using it immediately. Freezing raw dough can stretch its shelf life up to one month. Meanwhile, you can stash baked pastries in an airtight container for up to a week.
These are the seven common mistakes every cook makes with puff pastry. But now that you know the solutions, you don't have to be afraid of working with laminated dough. It will upgrade your baking skills. Now, let your family enjoy your tarts, pot pies, croissants, and more!