Making homemade puff pastry is a massive pain, so I completely understand why most people want nothing to do with it. Trust me, if there was an all-butter, high-quality, affordable, widely available frozen puff pastry option out there, I’d want us all to use it. If you’re lucky enough to live in a place where such a pre-made puff pastry is available, by god, take advantage of it! But if you’re one of the millions of people living in the world of terrible frozen puff pastry, well, then this one’s for you.
Puff pastry should be puffy, crispy, and buttery. If it is not all three of these things, it is a failure. But because butter is expensive and palm oil is cheap, bad puff pastry is mostly what you get in the freezer aisle. If a premade supermarket brand doesn’t have butter listed in the ingredients, it will only bring disappointment and drag down the quality of your recipe.
When I need puff pastry—like when I’m making a pandowdy or a pot pie—I make a homemade rough puff pastry instead.
“Rough puff” is much easier to make than classic puff pastry. It works just as well as the classic pain-in-the-ass variety, and tastes just as good. Regardless of how much experience you have in the kitchen, I promise that you—yes, you—can make this.
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Read the entire recipe, then read it again, and maybe once more for good measure. Keep a bag of flour on hand, relax, and don’t overthink anything. The dough will tell you exactly what it needs, so follow its lead and don’t worry about being perfect. Even if you don’t get it spot-on on your first try, you’ll still end up with crispy pastry saturated in melted butter, so, really, there’s no way to lose here.
Rough Puff Pastry
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cold
- 1/2-2/3 cup cold water
In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt with a fork. Use a butter knife to cut the butter into thin pats—about 1/8", but don’t stress if they’re not perfect. As you cut, toss them into the flour, making sure they’re fully coated and not sticking together.
Add 1/2 cup of water while stirring, turning the flour into dough. Don’t try to smoosh up the butter! Just make sure there is no dry flour, adding more water if necessary. It’s okay if it’s a little on the wet side, as you’ll be adding more flour as you roll it out.
Lay out a large sheet of parchment on your counter (at least 2 feet) and dust the parchment, your rolling pin, and your hands liberally with flour. Plop the dough onto the paper and begin smooshing it out with your hands, dusting with more flour when it sticks (and it will be sticky!), then use your rolling pin to roll it out into a rectangle-ish shape about 1" thick (again, don’t worry about being perfect).
Fold in the shorter edges of the dough rectangle so they meet in the center, lifting the parchment to help you out. Pat down, and then fold it again once more across the center, like a book. Lift up the dough, flour the underside a little bit, then rotate it 90 degrees. Smack the dough with the rolling pin to flatten it out a bit, then repeat the rolling and folding process. Give it a few more good smacks with the rolling pin so all the folded layers are sticking together, then wrap the dough tightly in the parchment and put it in the fridge. If you decide to make this well ahead of time, wrap it once more in plastic wrap. Store it in the fridge for up to three days, or freeze for up to six months.