Puff Pastry


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Preparation info

  • Makes about

    1 pound

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafes of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague


By Rick Rodgers

Published 2002

  • About

Nothing compares to the flavor of rich puff pastry created from rolled layers of butter and dough, so crisp it shatters in your mouth. During baking, the butter melts in the oven and creates steam, separating the layers and making the dough extra-flaky. The addition of rum is a hallmark of Austro-Hungarian bakers.

You can substitute an equal weight of store-bought pastry for homemade but be sure it is made from butter, not shortening. Here are a few pointers:

  • If the dough softens in a hot kitchen, refrigerate it until it is cool and firm enough to work with.
  • For proper layering of butter and dough, they must be near the same cool temperature. The optimum temperature for the mixture is 60°F (thanks to Bernard Clayton, who identified the proper temperature in his New Complete Book of Breads). If too warm, the butter will soak into the dough; if too cold, it will break through. The 60°F butter temperature is easy to attain in a cool kitchen by working the butter in a bowl with your knuckles. Don’t use your palms too much as they are warmer and could melt the butter.
  • If any butter does peek through the dough during rolling, generously sprinkle the offending spot with flour to seal it, then proceed.
  • Keep the dough as evenly shaped as possible, stretching the corners as needed to keep them at right angles.
  • Brush off excess flour from the top of the dough before rolling the layers; too much flour will toughen the pastry.
  • Even when the recipe calls for a half-batch of dough, make the full recipe and freeze the remainder. It is difficult to make puff pastry with amounts smaller than recommended here.
  • See the photos for Plunderteig, as many of the steps are the same for Butterteig.



  • 1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon golden rum

Butter Mixture

  • 1⅓ cups ( sticks plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, chilled
  • 6 tablespoons unbleached flour


  1. To make the dough: Measure the flour and salt into a medium bowl and make a well in the center. Mix the water and rum and stir into the flour to make a sticky dough (add droplets of water if needed). Gather up the dough and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Knead a few times, just until the dough smoothes out a bit (it will still be slightly sticky and rough looking). Wrap the dough loosely in plastic wrap and shape into a 6-inch square. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes or up to 1 hour.
  2. To make the butter mixture: Combine the butter and flour in a medium bowl. Using your knuckles and fingertips, work the two together until the butter is smooth and malleable, but still cool. (An instant-read thermometer will read 60°F.) Scrape onto a piece of plastic wrap and wrap loosely. Using a rolling pin as an aide, roll and shape into a -inch square. If the temperature isn’t 60°F, refrigerate or let stand at room temperature until it reaches that point.
  3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into an 8-inch square. Unwrap the butter square and place in the center of the dough, with the corners of the butter square pointing north, south, east, and west. Using the back of a knife, lightly mark the perimeter of the butter square on the dough, and remove the butter square. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough from each mark to make four 4-inch long “petals.” Replace the butter square in the center of the dough. Brushing off the flour as you work, fold each petal over to enclose the dough.
  4. Dust the work surface and the top of the dough with flour. Roll out the dough into a 14 X 7-inch rectangle. Brush off the flour on the dough. As if folding a business letter, stretching the corners of the dough as well as possible to keep them at right angles, fold the top third of the dough down, then the bottom third of the dough up, making a three-layer rectangle about 4½ X 7 inches. This is called a single turn. Reposition the dough so the open side faces left. Dust the top of the dough with flour, and roll again into a 14 X 7-inch rectangle. Brush off the flour. Fold the top quarter of the dough down, then the bottom quarter of the dough up to meet in the center. Fold the dough in half at the center crease to make a four-layer rectangle about 3½ X 7 inches. This is called a double turn. Gently roll the dough to slightly flatten it, then wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Repeat step four, giving the dough another single turn, then another double turn. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

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