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Puff Pastry Dough (Pate Feuilletée)

Updated: May 29

This type of pastry dough is light, crispy, flaky and delicious. It lends itself well to both sweet and savory recipes and can be made ahead and frozen for future use. Some of my favorite things to make with puff pastry are a rustic apple tart, quiche, or millefeuille (napoleon cake). Whatever I do with it, it is as much about the process as it is the final result. There is something immensely therapeutic and satisfying about making this dough, and you can read all about just why in this letter about Pastry Dough Therapy.


250 g pastry flour

½ tsp. salt

250 g unsalted butter (I recommend using European butter such as President brand).

150 ml very cold water


Bread flour, for rolling

Rolling pin, pastry scraper

Pastry brush



Sift the flour into a metal bowl and place it into the freezer for fifteen minutes. Add the salt. Cut the cold butter into 5 cm cubes, and toss it into the flour, lightly stirring to coat. Add the cold water, and stir to mix, but take care not to smash the cubes of butter just yet. The dough should stick together but should not stick to your finger when touched. If too dry, add a few extra teaspoons of water. It is important to toss your dough, not knead it. Extend a piece of plastic wrap on your countertop, place the dough onto it, and form it into a rectangle. Wrap in plastic and place into the refrigerator to rest for at least 15 minutes (longer is fine).

Tri-fold 1:

Lightly dust your work surface and rolling pin with bread flour. Why bread flour? Less of it will be absorbed into your dough, keeping the final dough from becoming too dry. Evenly extend your dough into a 23cm (9 in) long rectangle. This will require both muscle and finesse to squash your firm butter. Roll the dough out lengthwise only, not sideways. Along the way, ensure that the dough is not sticking to the countertop below by shimmying a pastry scraper below it. If it seems to be sticking, carefully scrape it off the countertop avoiding breaking it. Add more flour under the dough before continuing. Perform the first tri-fold by folding the side nearest you up to 2/3 the length of the dough and fold the (doubled) dough away from you again to create a rectangle with 3 layers. As you fold the dough, use your dry pastry brush to remove excess flour. The dough will feel a bit knobby with butter and rough around the edges at first. Don't worry, by the end of your 5 tri-folds, it will be smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic and return to the refrigerator for minimum 15 minutes.

Tri-folds 2-5:

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and turn to position it ¼ turn to the right. If uncertain of the correct position, just ensure that the rectangle is lengthwise in front of you, and that the open end of the dough always starts out on the inferior right-hand side. Extend the dough with your flour-dusted rolling pin again, and perform the next tri-fold, same as above. Cover, and rest in the refrigerator. Repeat till you have done a total of 5 tri-folds. Let the dough rest, covered in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or for up to 24 hrs., before using in your recipe.

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