Everyone knows homemade is best for pretty much everything – and that includes puff pastry! Traditionally made by encasing a block of butter into a lean dough and rolling and folding it several times, this is a time-consuming and technical process. This rough puff pastry recipe without a food processor makes relatively quick work of this finicky bit of patisserie and the results are just as good as the traditional method!
Not completely dissimilar to making pie dough, this rough puff recipe follows similar techniques with a few letter folds thrown in to mimic traditional lamination. If you’re in a rush, you can throw this entire recipe together in about an hour, and that includes a fair amount of resting and chilling time.
So if you need puff pastry for a recipe – be it sweet or savoury – and you’d rather go homemade over storebought, then this method is simple to follow and uses no special equipment (save for a box grater).
How to Make Puff Pastry Without a Food Processor
First things first – it is absolutely essential that your ingredients are as cold as possible when making this recipe.
If the butter gets too warm, it will begin to mix with the flour and can result in a dough that is dense, greasy and not flaky at all.
The simple solution is to keep all of your butter in the fridge or freezer right up until you need to use it. Also, before beginning, ensure you clear a space in your fridge and freezer to ensure that your pastry has a spot to chill out a bit!
I like to prep my butter completely before starting to put the pastry together.
First, take half of your (fridge cold!) butter and cut it into very thin slices, only a couple of millimetres thick. Put the butter back in the fridge until you need it.
Then, on the large holes of a box grater, grate the other half of your butter (that should be frozen solid). Transfer the grated butter into the freezer until the time comes to incorporate it into the pastry.
To begin making the pastry, whisk together some flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. The sugar isn’t really there to add much sweetness, rather, it helps facilitate browning when it comes to baking the pastry.
Now, to your flour, add the butter slices. Using your fingertips, toss the butter into the flour to ensure each piece is coated in flour.
Take this time to gently smash some of the thicker pieces of butter to thin them out – be careful not to break them up too much, however!
Next, add in your grated butter. Use your fingertips (or a fork if you have hot hands) to ensure that the grated butter is completely coated in the flour.
Then it’s time to gradually add some ice water. Very slowly pour in some ice water and mix it with a fork to combine. How much water you add can depend on the flour you’re using or even the humidity of the day, so it’s best to rely on visual indicators.
Basically, you want a shaggy dough to form and there to be no dry spots remaining, but you don’t want a wet dough.
However, it is better to err toward the side of too wet (over-hydrated) vs too dry (underhydrated) as it is far easier to add a bit of flour when rolling out than it is to add moisture after this stage.
Once you’ve added your water, turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and pat into a rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap and roll a rolling pin over the pastry to even out the thickness, fill the gaps and air bubbles in the plastic and to ensure you have sharp, square edges.
Move the pastry to the freezer for ten minutes then to the fridge for at least twenty minutes.
Once the pastry has chilled sufficiently, it’s time to do our folds! This is similar to if you were making traditional puff pastry by hand.
On a lightly floured work surface, gently roll your pastry out – ensuring you keep the edges as square as possible – until it’s about 5 millimetres thick.
Then, fold the top third of the dough down to the middle. Follow this by folding the bottom third of the dough over the top third. The finished result should look like a business letter!
Turn the folded pastry 90 degrees and then roll out again to the same 5mm thickness. Then, do another letter fold.
Cover with the plastic and move the freezer for ten minutes and then refrigerate for another 20 minutes, at least.
After this point, you can then roll out and use your puff pastry in any application you wish! It will also keep in the fridge for several days and in the freezer for several months.
- 300g (2⅓ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 2 teaspoons sugar (caster or granulated)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 300g (22 tablespoons or approximately 3 US sticks) unsalted butter, half fridge cold and half frozen
- 120ml (½ cup) ice water (see note 2)
- Cut the refrigerated butter into very thin slices and then return to the refrigerator. Grate the frozen butter on the large holes of a box grater and return to the freezer until needed.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the sliced butter pieces and, using your fingertips, toss so that all pieces are coated in flour. Gently flatten some of the wider pieces of butter to thin them out, but be careful not to break apart the pieces too much.
- Add the grated butter and, using your fingertips, toss until just combined and completely coated in the butter.
- Pour in about 60ml (¼ cup) of the ice water (avoiding any ice cubes!) and mix to combine with a fork. Continue gradually adding water until a shaggy dough forms and there are no dry spots of flour - you may not need all of the 120ml (½ cup) of water, or you may need more.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and pat into a rectangular shape. Cover with plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to fill in any gaps between the pastry and the plastic wrap, ensuring it has sharp corners and is of an even thickness. This will make rolling it out much easier. Move the pastry to the freezer for 10 minutes and then to the refrigerator for an additional 20 minutes.
- Remove the pastry from the freezer and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently, but quickly, roll the dough out in a rectangular shape until it has an even thickness of about 5mm (¼in). Ensure the corners remain square as you roll.
- Fold the upper one-third of the dough down to the centre of the dough. Fold the bottom one-third of dough to cover the top third - the fold should resemble that of a business letter. (see note 3)
- Turn the pastry 90° and begin to roll out again until it reaches the same 5mm (¼in) thickness. Follow with another letter fold.
- Cover the pastry with plastic wrap and freeze for 10 minutes and refrigerate for an additional 20 minutes before rolling out and using as desired. Do not unfold the pastry when rolling out - simply roll out on top of the folds. (see note 4)
- After prepping the butter, keep it in the freezer or refrigerator right up until you're ready to use it to prevent it from becoming too soft.
- You may need more water than this, however, you may also use less. Every flour type and brand will hydrate differently. Factors such as the humidity of the day and your altitude can also effect flour hydration. In general, it is always better to err on the side over hydration than under, as it is much easier to adjust with more flour when it comes time to rolling out the dough.
- If you find the pastry is becoming too warm or any butter is feeling very soft, transfer the dough to the freezer for 10 minutes before continuing on with the second turn.
- The puff pastry, well-wrapped in plastic, can last for a few days in the refrigerator. It will keep in the freezer for up to six months.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 164Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 32mgSodium: 29mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 2g
Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Making homemade puff pastry without a food processor is a fun and rewarding process that isn’t too difficult, provided you ensure everything is well chilled!
Are you looking for a great rough puff recipe? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!