The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Why didn't my puff pastry puff?

cake diva's picture
cake diva

Why didn't my puff pastry puff?

I've made croissant dough the classic way a couple of times and never had problems with the end products.  Today, I made puff pastry and used a portion to make peach tart tatin. I'm disappointed that the crust didn't come out crisp-flaky as it should although I saw it puff a bit while baking.  I used flour labeled organic pastry flour that I bought in a blue bag at Whole Foods.  The flour was the color of wheat, i.e., not white, and the pastry had a wheat taste. Somehow, I remember a whiter-colored pastry flour when I took a class at SFBI. Are there many different types of pastry flour?  There was only this product in the store so I assumed it was the one I needed. Next time, what should I buy when the recipe calls for pastry flour?  Can Swan's Down cake flour substitute?

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

wrong flour

pastry and cake flour are to light

puff bastry use a white bread flour bleached or unbleached

mcs's picture
mcs

of mostly AP flour (bread flour) with about 1/4 cake flour.  If you like, you can email me and I'll go into more detail with the step-by-step. 

-Mark

http://TheBackHomeBakery.com

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I just made some puff pastry a couple of days ago and it really puffed up.  I used AP and cake flour like Mark suggests.

cake diva's picture
cake diva

Ok, first let me say I was trying to get rid of my pantry items because I'm going to be leaving Cincinnati (hip hip hooray!) this weekend and won't be coming back for a long time- that's why the wide latitude in formulation.  I actually tried to be close to Michel Roux' classic puff pastry formula in his book Pastry. 

500g AP flour (I used Arrowhead Mills organic pastry flour)

12g salt

25ml white wine vinegar (I used very expensive blood orange vinegar from Napa)

200 ml ice cold water

50g melted butter (I used very soft butter)

400g very cold butter

I made the detrempe the night before using a food processor instead of using the frissage method. I noticed the dough came out very firm (I don't think I pulsed too long), almost as if the water wasn't enough.

Next day, I took out the dough and let it warm for an hour.  The dough was still stiff but I didn't wait-  I just started pounding away.  The butter (which was also pounded) was enclosed just like it would be with croissant dough- in the middle third.  Michel Roux folds the butter with 4 flaps so that the top side of the butter actually has 2 layers of dough on top of it.  And then the rest is typical- a total of 6 turns with 1 hour rest periods in the fridge every 2 turn. Dan, the butter I'm sure was all broken into discontinuous bits. I think it was because the detrempe was very stiff and not at all extensible and I had to expend a lot of force to roll it.

When I stuck the peach tart tatin in the oven (recipe called for 350F), I did see the pastry puff a little.  It was really the taste and texture that I was disappointed with.  The texture was grainy (like whole wheat) and the color and taste was also like whole wheat. 

I have more of the batch in the fridge and tomorrow I am making apple tarts with it. With this pastry, they'll be more like mini open-faced apple pies. :(

cake diva's picture
cake diva

Dan et al,

Thanks for the tips.  I think I'll stay away from pastry flour to be safe.  I'll try Mark's suggestion of the AP-cake flour 3:1 combo.  And you're right about the baking temperature. I ended up cranking the temp to 400F when I saw the tart taking a while to brown.  I definitely will be making puff pastry again.  It's too good to pass up.  Hey, it took me a 3rd recipe to get eclairs to rise.  And if I can do croissants, I can do puff pastry!  Now if only I can get a sheeter for my home baking needs.

mcs's picture
mcs

Like Dan said, you're going for the same consistencies of the butter and dough.  If both the dough and butter slab start out at fridge temperature, to make them the same consistency I then put the dough in the freezer for around 90 minutes, and take the butter out of the fridge for 60 minutes (at room temperature of 68F).  Of course this is dependent on your room temperature and dough hydration and all of that stuff, but just as a ballpark figure, this gives me the same consistencies.

-Mark