Puff Pastry Tips & Ideas
August 11, 2020
If you’re looking for a quick hack for impressive and delicious baked goods, without too much effort, let me introduce you to frozen puff pastry. While it’s super rewarding to make your own from scratch, it’s time consuming and has a bit of a learning curve. Instead, you can buy it pre-made, and focus on fancy fillings and fun folds. Now, let’s get to it, because I have got plenty of puff pastry ideas to share with you!
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Tips for Using Frozen Puff Pastry
Pay attention when thawing
Most puff pastry brands recommend thawing at room temperature for anywhere from 25-45 minutes. However, not everyone’s home is the same temperature. Pay attention to the dough while it’s thawing. It will be ready when you can unfold it without the dough cracking. You can also thaw in the fridge overnight, which takes a bit more pre-planning.
Plenty of flour, but a light touch
Your work surface, the dough, and your rolling pin can all use a thin coating of flour. This will help when you are rolling out the dough to prevent sticking and losing valuable pieces of pastry to your counter top. When you are ready to roll, be gentle. Start in the middle and roll just until the pastry is the thickness you need.
Keep cutting tools sharp
The sharper your knives (or cookie cutters, or pizza cutter) the better your puff pastry will respond. Again, you don’t want to have to use too much pressure, just enough to separate the dough into the shapes you need. Use the pointed end of a paring knife or a pizza cutter for straight lines. For fun shapes, press cookie cutters straight down, and don’t twist.
When in doubt, just chill
Your dough, that is. Puff pastry is the happiest when it’s cold. Because it’s made of layers of butter and flour, it can be very responsive to temperature changes. If you work it too much or leave it out too long, the butter can start to soften, which will affect the rise. For the best outcome, chill pieces that you aren’t working with in the fridge. And chill finished pastries before baking.
The Finishing Touch
Don’t forget the egg wash! Adding a brush of whisked egg will give your baked pastry that perfect golden brown color and shiny texture that will have everyone reaching for the platter at once. For different levels of intensity, you can use egg white or yolk only, or mix the egg with a splash of milk, cream, or water. Experiment to find your favorite!
Fresh is Best
Once baked, puff pastry has a fairly short shelf life. It’s best to make your treats the same day you’ll be serving them, right before if possible. If you need to prep in advance, you can shape and fill your dough, and chill it overnight. Then add the egg wash and bake just before serving.
Puff Pastry Filling Ideas
Now that you know the best way to work with puff pastry, it’s time to start thinking about the fillings. And honestly, the possibilities are endless! Puff pastry can make impressive and tasty bite-sized appetizers or desserts. You can stack up a tray of different savory hors d’oeuvres, or you can pile a pyramid of sweet snacks.
The best part is that you can combine different fillings for all kinds of fun treats. See the lists below to get started with some easy ideas, and then play around to find some favorites. Each pastry you make can be completely different, or you can make a whole batch that’s the same.
- Fresh fruit, like berries or sliced apples
- Sweet and creamy cheese such as brie, cream cheese, or mascarpone
- Jams, jellies, and preserves in any flavor
- Pastry cream, pudding, or whipped cream (best added after baking)
- Chocolate chips or spreads such as Nutella
- Butter and cinnamon sugar
- Fresh vegetables, such as asparagus or spinach
- Melty cheeses such as cheddar and mozzarella
- Crumbly cheeses such as feta and goat cheese
- Meats like ham, prosciutto, and bacon
- Caramelized onions
- Pot pie filling, with chicken and vegetables
- Pizza sauce and seasonings
- Curried meats and vegetables
Puff pastry is so easy and fun! Did you know you could do so much? Discover some cool ideas, tips, and more.
How to Fold Puff Pastry
Another cool thing about puff pastry is that you can cut, fold, stack, and present it in so many different ways. A single pastry can range in size from a tiny single-bite to a tart that takes up the entire sheet pan.
They can be twisted, coiled, foiled, vented, turned over, and shaped in so many different ways. And no matter what you do, they will be delicious. Here are a few simple folds to get you started:
For more ideas, be sure to subscribe to the Slumber & Scones newsletter, to get exclusive access to the resource library! You can download a two-page printable with a total of 11 fun puff pastry folds.
If you’re looking for something a bit simpler, there are plenty of easy ways to get started with puff pastry. Try rolling it out to the size of your sheet pan, and adding your favorite filling with a 1-inch border all the way around, for a large tart. You can also cut it into 8 mini versions, each with a half-inch border.
More ideas include:
- Use puff pastry as the top of a sweet or savory pie, cutting some large slits to vent.
- Try cutting out fun shapes with cookie cutters or a paring knife
- Add filling to half of small squares, and fold into rectangles or triangles with small slits to vent.
- Cut thin strips and twist them, then leave them straight or bend them into s-curves or spirals.