What Is Puff Pastry, Actually?

If you watch any baking show, you probably heard the phrase “puff pastry.” And maybe you’ve even gleaned that it’s very temperamental and very difficult to make. But the end result always looks amazingly delicious. In the world of baked goods, there’s nothing quite like puff pastry. But what is puff pastry? Where does it come from? How do you use it? Let’s puff you up with some puff pastry knowledge. 

What is puff pastry?

Puff pastry is a flaky baked good made by layering thin sheets of dough with butter or other solid fat (a technique known as laminating). It’s often used to make croissants and pain au chocolat (aka chocolate croissants) as well as savory pastries. In its modern form it was invented in—where else?—France. When baked, the dough puffs up into layers of flaky, buttery pastry. 

Is phyllo dough the same as puff pastry?

Phyllo and puff pastry share a lot in common, and one can often be substituted for another in a recipe. There are a couple of key differences, however. First is composition: Phyllo dough is made from flour, water, and oil, whereas puff pastry is made from flour, water, and butter. Second is process: Puff pastry is laminated, meaning the butter is folded into the dough over and over again to create multiple layers, while phyllo is made of very thin layers of dough that are brushed with oil, then layered for baking. 

Is puff pastry gluten free?

Since the dough in puff pastry is typically made with wheat flour, puff pastry is a high gluten food. The good news for those trying to avoid the stuff is that there are a number of gluten-free puff pastries on the market. Keep in mind that, as with gluten-free bread, the texture is a little challenging to replicate without the binding agents in gluten. 

Is puff pastry vegan? 

The rich flavor and texture of a traditional puff pastry comes from butter, which is a dairy product and therefore not vegan. However, while it’s not the norm, you should be able to substitute another solid fat such as vegetable shortening or coconut oil to enjoy a vegan-friendly version of puff pastry. 

What to do with puff pastry?

Puff pastry is used in a wide variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. Insanely Good Recipes has an extensive list of different savory recipes that utilize the puffy stuff. One that looks particularly delicious to me is the Goat Cheese Smoked Salmon Puff Pastry Bites, which combine two of my favorite ingredients with this delicious fluffy pastry. On the sweet side of things, Spatula Desserts has got you covered, with a list of dessert recipes that includes the mouth-watering Nutella Puff Pastry Twists. If you’ve bought some frozen puff pastry and are looking for a way to use it, try making chicken pot pie and using it as the pastry top, put together some easy sweet or savory tarts, or roll it around sausages and bake them for sausage rolls. Or just bake it on its own and dip it into your nearest jar of peanut butter. You’re a grown-up. It’s your right to eat straight puff pastry for dinner.

About the Author

Matt Crowley

Matt Crowley is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He likes maple-flavored snacks, loves every kind of cheese, and is slowly learning to accept mushrooms.

Thoughts? Questions? Complete disagreement? Leave a comment!

Your thoughts.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *