When I was learning to cook, I thought of mastering puff pastry as a rite of passage from the merely eager to the expert. Making this delicate, flaky pastry usually takes at least half a day, but the result—hundreds of puffed, crisp, and buttery layers—was, in my mind, the ultimate kitchen achievement.
Then I discovered that most chefs use a shortcut method known as rough puff pastry (also called blitz and half pastry) that takes only a fraction of the time. Though the results are not quite as spectacular in terms of height, rough puff pastry is just as irresistibly flaky, buttery, and tender as traditional puff pastry.
Use rough puff pastry to make turnovers, mille-feuilles, cheese straws, and cream horns, or use it as a crust for tarts, quiches, and pot pies.
Watch Abby Johnson Dodge demonstrate how to make rough puff pastry for an elegant Pear-Hazelnut Tart in a Puff-Pastry Crust.
What to Make with Puff Pastry
Browse all recipes using puff pastry
Different means to similar ends
Classic puff pastry begins with a basic dough called a détrempe (pronounced day-trahmp) that is rolled out and wrapped around a slab of butter. The dough is then repeatedly rolled, folded, and turned. The goal is to distribute the butter evenly in sheets throughout the dough. When the pastry bakes, the moisture in the butter creates steam, causing the dough to puff and separate into many layers.
Making classic puff pastry takes a lot of time because the dough needs lengthy rests after the initial détrempe stage and between its many "turns" (each series of rolling, folding, and turning).
There are a few ways to abbreviate the process of making puff pastry, all with the goal of distributing bits of butter throughout the dough. The method I find most streamlined is a cross between classic puff pastry and basic pie crust. You cut the butter into the flour as if making pie crust, but instead of simply rolling out the crust, you give the dough a quick series of turns and folds as you would for puff pastry.