I made that!

Puffy McPuffpants

Posted in All Sugar All The Time by brandi on June 22, 2009

I’m on this new kick. It started at work, and now I can’t stop doing it at home. It’s a fairly laborious task, one that will surely make me and my friends fat, but I just can’t stop making puff dough. I’ve gotten to where I feel like I need to have homemade puff in the freezer at all times, ready to be rolled into flaky deliciousness at a moment’s notice. Of course lately I feel that way about a lot of things, and our freezer is feeling the love. But really, who doesn’t keep sheets of galette dough, pie dough, pate sucre dough along with strawberry scones, several quarts of fresh stock, 20 lbs of various nuts and a collection of odd flours in their freezer? But that’s another story, back to my puff habit. Puff is total magic. The most architectural of the doughs. The most sectional, and in many ways the most pure. You literally fold butter into flour until it creates hundreds of layers. It’s kind of a several hour process, great for rainy days or days when you’ve got other long winded kitchen projects, since most of that time is spent resting in the fridge. Let me show you how it works…

First you make a smooth and stretchy dough with high gluten flour, water and melted butter. You let that sit in the fridge for an hour or so to relax all that gluten and allow it to firm up a bit.


After an hour you whip up some butter (equal in weight to the amount of flour in the earlier dough) with a bit of flour (equal to the amount of melted butter in the dough) until it’s smooth and pliable. This is called a “beurrage” or “butter block” in English.


You roll your dough into a rectangle of considerable size.


And then smear your butter on one half of it, being careful not to let the butter get warm. If it gets warm, you have to stop everything and pop it in the fridge to firm back up (but not too firm!). If you haven’t guessed yet, the hardest part about puff is understanding and regulating its temperature. But once you know what you want, it’s super easy.


Then you fold over the other half of the dough, to make a giant pop tart, making sure the edges are sealed tight. I get a little anal at this point and trim away any thick doughy edges. This is called a detrempe. I don’t know if it has an english name, so you can just call it a pop tart. You then place your detrempe in the fridge for 30-45 minutes to relax and firm up some more.


You take out your detrempe and roll it out on the short side (basically make it longer) into a long strip about 3/8″ thick.


Then take the edges and fold them in until they meet at a point 1/3 from the new folded edge.


Then fold the whole thing over. This is called a double fold, or a book fold.


It should look like this. You then place it in the fridge to rest for 30-45 minutes. You take it back out and repeat, rotating it so that you are again rolling out the short side to make it a long strip, folding it the same way and letting it rest another 30-45 minutes. You want to do this a total of 3 times. You’ll notice on the 3rd fold that it starts getting really delicate. If you poke it too hard it will tear, so you have to be gentle. At this point it’s very easy to get too warm, so you must also work quickly. If your butter melts, it will merge with you flour, eliminating all those layers you worked so hard to roll in…

Once you finish your 3 folds you have what’s called a “paton”. You can store your paton in the freezer, or in the fridge if you are going to be using it in the next few days.


When you are ready to bake your puff you just roll it out into 1/8 inch sheets. This size recipe will yield one really large sheet or 2 more manageable sized sheets. I wanted a little caramelization action, so I sheeted the dough in sugar rather than flour. I decided to make little puff squares to serve at my dinner party last night, so I used a pizza cutter to slice up my sheet. Once again, it is important that your puff stays cool. If you try cutting it up while warm, it will pinch the edges together, making it hard for your dough to rise up in the oven.


I placed my squares on a parchment lined sheet tray, then placed another sheet tray on top. The top sheet tray is basically there to reign that puff in. When you heat your dough up, it’s gonna start to puff like crazy, while this is a good thing, you don’t want to go TOO tall… You place the tray in a 400 degree oven and bake until the puff is cooked all the way through. Even with a sheet tray on top, my puff rose from 1/8″ to 3/4″, which is an ideal size I think!


When you break open your baked puff, it should be filled with little flakes.


I served my puff squares with a big bowl of vanilla pastry cream and some pitted strawberries for a “make your own strawberry napoleon” dessert. It was a hit. But you can do so many things with puff…I’m sure I’ll have some more posts about it throughout the summer!



Puff Pastry

Yield: 2 1/2 lbs


12oz bread flour

4oz cake flour

4oz melted butter

1 1/2 tsp salt

9oz cool water

– Mix flours and place in stand mixer bowl. Use dough hook attachment.

– Pour water in measuring cup. Melt butter with salt in saucepan. Pour melted butter into measuring cup of water and stir well.

– With mixer on low speed, start pouring in the liquid mixture. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, by hand if needed.

– Wrap in plastic and chill in fridge for 1 hour. This will allow the gluten to rest so that it isn’t too stretchy to roll out, causing tough dough and affecting your ability to work fast to keep the butter cool.

Butter Block:

16oz pliable butter (about 60 degrees)

3oz bread flour

1oz cake flour

– Place butter in stand mixer bowl and beat with paddle attachment on medium speed until smooth. On low speed add the flours and mix until smooth and uniform.


– Roll the dough out to a roughly 12″x18″ rectangle, the dough should be about 1/4″-3/8″ thick.

– Use a spatula (your hand will warm the butter) to spread the butter over half of the rectangle (along the short side). You want to stay about 1/2″ from the edge.

– Fold the dough over and cinch the edges. Trim if necessary.

– Wrap in plastic and chill in fridge for 30 minutes.


– Roll out 3 times in a book fold, or 4 times in a letter fold, resting for 30 minutes in between each turn. Monitor the butter temperature by it’s softness. It should be cold enough to make you work for it when you roll the pastry, but not enough to rip through the dough. If it is too soft, let it chill 10-15 minutes longer in the fridge.