I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – making rough puff pastry should be easy. And it def is. I think puff pastry is mismarketed in the baking world as something that takes a lot of time or a lot of skill, when really it just takes 3 ingredients, a little bit of counter space and 15 minutes.
Now, let’s be real. Real puff pastry, like the really legit stuff you find in bakeries, that takes time, effort, and skill. And the results are amazing! It’s artisan! It’s everything I love and more. BUT if you are looking to get flakey, buttery crusts, you def do not always have to go through all the trouble of an intensive, time consuming puff pastry process. You can make a rough puff!
Rough puff pastry is one of my favorite things in the world DUE to its simplicity. And there are even debates in the pastry world around how simple you can/should make it. Some rough puff pastry recipes require a few folds of the dough itself, other’s require more butter to be mixed in, and some mandate that you use as little flour as possible.
My pastry recipe is none of those things.
I first started this recipe when I was experimenting with homemade poptarts, and when I finally developed a rough puff pastry recipe that worked for me, I saw how multifunctional it is. It’s a great base recipe and skill to have. This recipe can be used for poptarts, desserts, savory pastries, pie crust, dumplings, galettes, really anything! I’m using it as the base for a simple spring salad, which only proves how functional this one is!
And to be honest, I’ve never had issues with this recipe producing fluffy, crispy, buttery layers every time. It’s fool proof. It’s basic. It needs to be in your repertoire. Now let’s get to it!
Table of contents
- What is rough puff pastry?
- Rough puff pastry vs. puff pastry
- How to make this rough puff pastry
- FAQ for this easy rough puff pastry recipe
What is rough puff pastry?
Think of rough puff as the shortcut version of puff pastry. But just because it’s the shortcut, doesn’t mean it’s any less worthy of your time!
Puff pastry is when you incorporate one large slab of butter into a dough, using the book fold method and continuously rolling it out with a rolling pin. This creates dozens of thin layers of butter between pastry, leading to aeration from the butter to create crisp pockets of air and fluffy layers within a dough. It’s a truly magical process, but can be super labor intensive.
Rough puff pastry on the other hand, is when you incorporate tiny pieces of butter INTO the dough as you are making it. This leaves you with tiny butter pockets throughout the dough, which helps create the same effect as a fully laminated puff pastry. The small capsules of butter within the flour serve the same purpose as the thin layers of butter in puff pastry. The butter melts in the oven, lets off crucial steam and helps aerate the dough. Plus it adds a little color and flakey crispness to a puff pastry recipe.
Long story short – puff pastry is what you make when you have a ton of time and are ready for the challenge. Rough puff is what you make when you want an easy, pliable dough, are short on time, but still love crispy layers and delicious butter.
Rough puff pastry vs. puff pastry
Now that we know the difference, there are pros and cons to each of these types of pastry.
pros of traditional puff pastry
Like I said above, traditional puff pastry is magic. When you make it using the lamination technique, you know you are creating distinct, separated layers of butter that are guaranteed to give you lift and rise in your puff pastry. When the pastry cooks, the butter melts and releases steam, so the pastry will automatically puff up into something absolutely crave worthy.
It’s multifunctional, highly adaptable and one of the best traditional french baking techniques out there.
pros of rough puff pastry
But rough puff pastry on its own is nothing to brush off. Rough puff pastry creates a similar lift, and is much easier to handle, prep and make. Rough puff pastry takes about a quarter of the time and is a great option for a quick pastry, crust or galette. Plus if you use this recipe (wink wink 😉 it’ll save you a lot of headache around technique and tools.
cons of traditional puff pastry
The pros kind of hint at the cons automatically. A traditional puff pastry recipe is just much more labor intensive than a rough puff, and it usually requires some tools, time and materials that the average home baker doesn’t usually have.
I love the idea of trying and practicing all types of traditional pastry, but sometimes this recipe can need a lot of dedication, and I’d much rather there be a more approachable version than just the store-bought option!
cons of rough puff pastry
The obvious con is that the results are not as predictable as traditional puff pastry. You can’t fully control your butter distribution, but you can get pretty good at it! Just like puff pastry, rough puff pastry takes just a bit of practice to get the hang of it. But once you’re in, you’re in 😉
How to make this rough puff pastry
If you are just looking for the short, simple version of this recipe, feel free to jump down to the recipe box below! I’ll leave the button here for ya:Jump to Recipe
But if you want a bit more detail in your tutorial, I gotchu. Here’s a step by step of how I make this rough puff:
1 – Mix the flour and salt
It sounds obvious, but making sure that the flour and salt are evenly incorporated is the first step to making this recipe successful. Plus this whisking process helps eliminate any clumps in the flour that might infringe on the recipe!
2 – grate in frozen butter
Now this can work with both vegan butter and dairy butter, but the key is that your butter needs to be frozen. Use a microplane, cheese grater or box grater to grate in strips of the frozen butter. The goal is to get the butter in as small of pieces as possible.
3 – Toss the Frozen butter in the flour
Once the butter is grated, quickly toss it in the flour until each piece of butter is coated in flour. This should be relatively quick and easy. Start with your hands in the flour and kind of toss it over the butter, then begin to work your fingers through the butter, continuously tossing it in the flour. Once the flour has coated the butter, you are in the “safe zone.”
This means you can squeeze, pinch, work and press the dough without fearing that you’ll mess up any of the lamination. Think of the flour as a protective barrier to the butter. You want the butter as protected as possible.
Continue to work the butter into the flour with your fingers until no piece is bigger than a lentil. It’ll look like you have a dry, gravelly texture.
4 – whisk in your milk or water and create the dough
I firmly believe this is the only tricky part of the recipe. But it is easy! Just be confident that you can’t mess it up.
Take your ice water (or milk if you want a richer dough) and drizzle it into the flour. Use a fork to whisk it in. Once it starts to clump, switch to your hands and quickly begin pressing it into a dough ball. This should take about 30 seconds. Once the ball forms, press it a few times with your palm into the bowl.
5 – transfer your dough to chill
Once your dough is formed, place it in the middle of a sheet of cling wrap and press it down into a 1/2′ tall square – it definitely doesn’t have to be perfect. Fold it up in the cling wrap and then take a rolling pin and roll out the dough until it is taut in all four corners.
Let this chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes
6 – using the dough when you need it
After the dough is in the fridge, you can leave it there for up to 7 days and just use it when you want to! It’s like having store-bough rough puff pastry on hand.
When you are ready to use it, take it out of the cling wrap and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll it out to your desired size and cut what you need. I used cookie cutters here to get tiny circles!
If you see any bits of butter break through the dough, just use a lightly floured hand to “reseal” the dough. Super easy.
A lot of baking recipes will lecture about not using too much flour, which is true. But don’t be afraid to use some if you need it! It’s not make-or-break with this recipe.
the final step – baking
And when you are ready to bake, brush them with some egg wash, set an oven to 425F and watch the magic happen! They will puff and brown and you’ll be left with the best rough puff pastry you could ask for 🙂
FAQ for this easy rough puff pastry recipe
Absolutely! This dough is like store bough rough puff when you make it. You can wrap it tightly in cling wrap and either store in the fridge for 7 days or in the freezer for up to 5 months.
I prefer to store mine in the fridge, which will last for up to 7 days. But if you want to freeze it you absolutely can! It will last in the freezer for 5 months and can be thawed simply by moving it to the fridge for 24 hours before using.
The answer is yes! Follow the recipe the same way, but add 1 tbsp of granulated sugar. You’ll be surprised at how much sweetness it adds. It’s great for tarts and pastries!
Absolutely! It freezes for 5 months and can be thawed just by placing it in the fridge 24 hours before using.
It lasts 7 days in air-tight cling wrap.
I would not suggest it. Margarine and butter have different moisture percentages, so the results will not be the same.
Similar to margarine, vegan butter and dairy butter have different moisture percentages, but I have found luck with vegan butter brands such as Miyokos Creamery when doing this recipe!
A simple mix of agave nectar and almond milk (1:1 ratio) is a great sub for egg wash!
Wow, what a blog post. I love these long ones and I hope you find them helpful! As always, you can find the tutorial videos on my Instagram or TikTok. And if you make this and love it, please tag me on IG or Pinterest! I would love love love to see your rough puff success.
And of course happy to help with anything in the comments, and I’d always appreciate a rating. In the meantime, happy baking!
Easy Rough Puff Pastry
- 150 grams all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter or vegan butter frozen
- 3 tbsp ice water
- egg wash optional
- In a medium sized bowl, toss together the flour and salt.
- Then using a box grater or a hand grater, grate in the frozen butter into the flour mixture. Don't stress if it looks like cheese shreds, you should aim for the size of the butter shreds to be small, but I'm not particular!
- When all the butter is grated into the flour mixture, toss with your hands until each piece of butter is coated with flour. This should take less than 30 seconds, it's just a quick toss!
- Aim to crumble the butter with your hands until no piece is bigger than a lentil, do this after the butter is coated in flour to make it a bit easier. This should also take less than 30 seconds, don't overthink it, there's no need to be perfect!
- Once the butter is crumbled, you'll have a dry, gravel like consistency. Using a fork to whisk constantly, drizzle the ice water into the flour mixture until it is evenly distributed.
- Then switch to using your hands to work the mixture into a rough dough. This will take a few kneads and presses, but it should come together relatively quickly.
- Take the ball of dough you have formed and place it in the center of a sheet of plastic wrap. Push the dough down until it is about 1-2 inches thick. If you want to get particular about shape, I recommend trying to form it into a rectangle. Cover tightly with the plastic wrap.
- Once it is wrapped, take a rolling pin and roll over the dough until it is firmly packed throughout the plastic wrap.
- Chill the dough for 20-30 minutes. You can also chill the dough in the fridge for up to 7 days, or until you are ready to use it!
- Once you are ready to use the dough, cut it into 2 pieces and lightly dust a flat surface with flour. Preheat your oven to 400F.
- Place one piece on the floured surface and then flip so both sides are lightly coated with flour. Begin to roll out to your desired shape.
- If you happen to see butter break through the seal of the dough, just lightly reseal with a small touch of flour. It's not the end of the world! No need to stress it.
- Depending on how you cut your dough, reuse the scraps and roll out again, repeating until you have no dough left.
- It's good to use as little flour as possible in this process, but don't be shy if you feel you need it! I've found the instructions to not use flour is what stresses out most people during this process.
- When you are ready to bake, place the pastry on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with egg wash. Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Baking time might adjust slightly based off if the pastry has any topping or filling!
- Serve immediately!