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‘Rough Puff’ Pastry Makes Appetizers Go Smoothly

Parmesan-black pepper twists and mini-tarts with blue cheese, pear and walnuts made with rough puff pastry. Credit: Lynne Curry

Parmesan-black pepper twists and mini-tarts with blue cheese, pear and walnuts made with rough puff pastry. Credit: Lynne Curry

Fast-and-easy puff pastry, known as “rough puff,” is one essential recipe to put in your holiday bag of tricks. Homemade ready-to-bake rough puff pastry in my freezer has saved me many anxious what-to-make moments each December.

With this one technique, I can make any savory appetizer, including Parmesan-black pepper twists; ham, cheddar and red pepper quiches; blue cheese, pear and walnut mini-tarts; and a host of other buttery, light creations ideal for serving with any holiday libation.

Classic French puff pastry’s laid-back relative, rough puff requires no culinary degree. In fact, it’s what pastry chefs make at home because there are so few steps and big payoffs. And while rough puff is less lofty than the laborious puff pastry, it performs perfectly for every use from palmiers to empanadas.

In this video, French pâtissier and baking book author Michael Roux demonstrates how to make rough puff by hand.

I prefer to use my food processor based on a method I learned from pastry master Nick Malgieri. In this series of photos, I’ll take you step by step through the process for making your own rough puff pastry. This is an unbeatable substitute for any recipe calling for store-bought or homemade puff pastry without the premium cost or the time investment.

Once you have rough puff, the options span a world of appetizers using any cheeses, marinated or cooked vegetables and meats (leftovers, too) you have. In fact, with rough puff on hand, the only other item I need to stock for an impromptu festive gathering of friends is a stash of something bubbly.

Rough Puff Pastry

Makes 1½ pounds of dough

Ingredients

½ stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled and roughly cut into small pieces

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled and diced into ½-inch pieces

½ teaspoon salt

⅔ cup cold water

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour

Directions

1.  Make sure you divide the 10 ounces of butter necessary for this recipe into two groups. Two ounces should roughly chopped and 8 ounces should be diced into ½-inch pieces.

2. Dissolve the salt in the cold water. This will allow for better distribution in the dough. Keep the saltwater chilled until ready to use. Cold ingredients are the key for easy to handle pastry that comes out flakey.

3. Put the flour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the roughly cut 2 ounces of butter and blend with 4 to 5 pulses until well combined. Add the 8 ounces of diced butter and pulse 2 to 3 times for 2 seconds each until the butter is the size of hazelnuts. These larger pieces of butter are what make the dough puff up when baked.

4. Dump the mass of crumbly dough onto a smooth work surface. Use a dough scraper to collect it into a rectangle. Dust a rolling pin and roll into a rectangle about 5 inches wide and 14 inches long. Use your dough knife to keep the edges straight.

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Picture 1 of 4

Butter cut two ways, along with salt and water for the dough. Credit: Lynne Curry

5. Use a dough knife or spatula to lift the dough and fold it in thirds, like a business letter. Match the corners and side up as evenly as you can. Turn the dough “letter” 90 degrees so the folds are facing you and roll it out once more into a 5-by-14-inch rectangle. Now, roll up the dough like a scroll and then use the palm of your hand to flatten it into an even, wide log shape.

5. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

6. Dust the work surface and the rolling pin lightly with flour and roll out to ¼-inch thick, turning the dough and dusting underneath with flour to prevent sticking. Brush off any excess flour and use a pizza wheel, biscuit cutter or a knife to cut the dough into any shape you desire. (Gather any scraps of dough and re-roll or chill for future use. They will not be as airy but are perfect for tarts, quiche or pizza.)

7. Place the pastries on an ungreased baking sheets or in tart pans or muffin tins. For immediate use, top or fill the pastries (an egg wash helps ingredients stick and makes the pastries pretty, but is optional) and chill for at least 15 minutes for best results.

Or, for future use, freeze the unfilled pastry shapes on their pans. Once firm, transfer them into labeled freezer bags. Fill them straight from the freezer with the toppings and fillings of your choice and bake right away.

8. To bake the pastries, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until golden brown (frozen pastries will take a few more minutes than chilled) and serve immediately.

Top photo: Parmesan-black pepper twists and mini-tarts with blue cheese, pear and walnuts made with rough puff pastry. Credit: Lynne Curry



Zester Daily contributor Lynne Curry is an independent writer based in the mountains of eastern Oregon and the author of "Pure Beef: An Essential Guide to Artisan Beef with Recipes for Every Cut" (Running Press, 2012). She blogs at ruraleating.com

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