There are few things that compare to homemade puff pastry, with its flaky layers and buttery flavor. But creating hundreds of layers of dough and butter that bake up into that flaky texture is a time-consuming process. In this video, Abby Johnson Dodge demonstrates her recipe for Pear-Hazelnut Tart in a Puff-Pastry Crust, which illustrates how to create a the effect of puff pastry with a shortcut called rough puff pastry. Rough puff pastry puffs up to great heights in half the time.
Learn more about Rough Puff Pastry
Read the article: A Shortcut to Flaky Puff Pastry
Try the recipes: Pear-Hazelnut Tart in a Puff-Pastry Crust and Rough Puff Pastry
With classic puff pastry, you wrap a sheet of dough around a slab of butter, and then roll and fold it repeatedly to create all the layers, with lengthy rests in between. With rough puff pastry, you cut the butter into the dough, like you would for pie dough.
Start out by combining the flour with a little bit of salt in a mixing bowl, then start cutting in the butter. You can use a pastry cutter or two blunt table knives. The idea is to get the butter well distributed and coated with the flour, but still maintain these distinct chunks.
Next add a 1/2 cup of very cold water and continue cutting until the dough just barely hangs together. It's important not to overwork the dough, because you want to minimize the amount of gluten that forms because gluten will make your dough tough, not tender.
What you see should barely even look like dough at this point. Flour your countertop, and turn the dough out onto the counter. Pat it into a rectangle, and then roll the rectangle out until it's 6 x 18 inches.
Now it's time to do a series of rolling and folding moves like you would for classic puff pastry--this is how we create the layers. First, fold both short ends of the dough in towards one another, so they meet in the middle. Fold one half over the other half so you have a 4 x 6 inch rectangle--this is called a double book fold. The dough should appear much smoother already.
Turn the dough so the seam is on the right, then roll the dough out again into a 6 x 18 inch rectangle. Repeat the same folds one more time.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
Once the dough has had a chance to relax and chill, give it one more turn: put the seam on the right, roll it out to 6 x 18 inches, and make one more double book fold. Even though the dough has gone from shaggy to smooth, there are still visible flecks of butter in here--that's exactly what you want.
Now cut the book crosswise into two rectangles and let it chill for at least 2 hours before shaping.
Rough puff pastry is perfect for fruit tarts like the Pear-Hazelnut Tart. For this recipe, roll out the dough into a rectangle and cut strips from the remaining dough to build up a high border around the edges.
To start, roll out the smaller rectangle to roughly 9 x 14 inches. Then transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment before trimming it--once you get it into a nice neat shape, it'll be hard to move without deforming it. Now trim down the rectangle to 8 x 13 inches.
Roll out the larger chunk of pastry to about the same thickness, and then trim it up to an 11 x 13-inch rectangle. Cut this rectangle into four 13 x 3/4-inch strips and four 8 x 3/4-inch strips. You'll have leftover dough.
Wet two of the shorter strips with a bit of water and lay them, moistened side down, along the short sides of the smaller rectangle. Wet two of the longer strips and lay them along the longer sides of the rectangle, overlapping the shorter strips at the corners.
Then repeat with the remaining four strips, stacking them on the first set of strips to make a double-high edge.
Now your tart is ready to fill.
In the recipe demonstrated, the tart has a hazelnut filling--nuts, sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla, comes together in the food processor in just a few seconds. Spread this evenly over the bottom of the crust right up to the border.
Now top that with the pears. Slice each half fairly thinly, about 1/4 inch, and then shingle the slices over the filling like this. It looks nice if you alternate the direction of the pears with each row. Once the pears are all arranged, sprinkle them with a little cinnamon sugar, and then it's ready to bake.
Bake until the crust is puffed and golden brown and the fruit is tender--and when it's ready, you can see those beautiful layers in the crust, and it all comes from that easy shaggy dough.