Flaky, buttery puff pastry is the impressive, do-it-all dough that can be transformed into savory or sweet recipes that span the day from breakfast through dessert. It comes with big versatility that can be easily realized — as long as you avoid these puff pastry missteps.
1. Unfolding frozen puff pastry before it's fully thawed.
When you jump the gun on unfolding puff pastry pulled from the freezer, whether it's made from scratch or store-bought, it's very likely to crack or break.
Follow this tip: Puff pastry is delicate and deserves to be treated with patience, especially when taken from the freezer. Thaw the pastry overnight in the refrigerator or for about 30 minutes at room temperature, and be sure it's pliable before working with it.
2. Leaving the puff pastry at room temperature too long.
When left at room temperature too long, puff pastry's main ingredient, butter, starts to soften and melt. This leaves the dough sticky and really hard to work with, and may result in the pastry not holding its shape while baking.
Follow this tip: Mind the time when working with puff pastry. Also plan to work with small pieces of dough at a time, leaving the rest covered in the refrigerator until you're ready for them. If the pastry you're working with gets too soft, pop it in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes to firm up.
3. Not flouring your work surface.
Whether it's store-bought or made from scratch, puff pastry should be rolled out to ensure the dough has an even thickness. Forget to dust your work surface with a light coating of flour and the dough is likely to stick and prove tougher to work with.
Follow this tip: Treat puff pastry as you would other doughs that require rolling. Keep the dough easy to work with and prevent it from sticking to your work surface by lightly flouring the surface and rolling pin before getting to work. Be sure to brush off the excess flour once the puff pastry is rolled to the desired size.
4. Handling the dough too much.
Yes, the pastry usually needs to be rolled out, cut, and shaped, but when handled too much, the cooked pastry can turn out tough instead of light and crisp.
Follow this tip: To ensure the cooked pastry is light and crisp, be efficient when working with the dough and handle it gently and as little as possible.
5. Setting the oven temperature too low.
Temperature is a key factor in baking up puff pasty that actually puffs. Set the oven dial too low, and the pastry is likely to fall flat.
Follow this tip: As a rule of thumb, a higher oven temperature (400°F is ideal) results in puff pastry with a higher rise. The higher temperature produces steam, which is the crucial component that makes the puff pastry, well, puff.