How To: I Love Puff Pastry. Here’s Why You Should, Too

I Love Puff Pastry. Here’s Why You Should, Too

I always have several sheets of puff pastry in my freezer. It's unlike any other pastry dough: the layers of butter let out steam when the dough bakes (hence, the "puff" in puff pastry). The dough's flakiness perfectly compliments sweet and savory dishes, which makes it a totally versatile—and completely necessary—fixture in your kitchen!

Puff pastry is notorious for being time-consuming when made by hand; thankfully, you can buy puff pastry at your local grocery store or supermarket nowadays (it's in the frozen section).

I have 5 fantastic reasons that you should always keep puff pastry around listed below. However, keep in mind that for any of these ideas, it's best to have your oven between 400-450°F so that the heat is strong enough to melt the butter layers quickly.

1. A Crisp Garnish

Using your favorite cookie cutter, stamp out shapes in the puff pastry sheet. Place your shapes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then put another piece of parchment paper and a second baking sheet on top.

After about 15 minutes in the oven, this compact and sandwiched way of baking will make a very flaky crisp to complement any dish in need of some texture.

2. The Perfect Hors D'Oeuvres

Few things in life are as satisfying as crispy cheese straws. It seems almost too good to be true that you need only three ingredients—puff pastry, egg, and Parmesan cheese—to assemble them at home!

Simply roll out your puff pastry, brush with egg, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, then fold in half and use a rolling pin to seal the filling shut. Then, cut the folded pastry into strips, twist, and bake until golden.

Try Martha Stewart's recipe for a surefire home run at your next cocktail party.

3. A Quick & Impressive Breakfast

For a wonderful Parisian breakfast of flaky croissants, cut your puff pastry sheet into triangles. Then, start rolling from the flat edge towards the point, sealing at the point with a bit of egg wash.

Bake these petite cuties until lightly golden brown (about 15 minutes), and voilà: the easiest DIY croissants ever!

4. A Gorgeous French Pastry

Palmiers, or "elephant ears", are a classic French pastry that you can recreate in minutes at home.

First, spread a sugar and spice mixture on one side of the sheet of pastry. Then roll the edges towards each other to meet in the center. Lastly, slice the pastry (which will look like two adjacent logs) width-wise. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden-brown on a tray, then enjoy!

Ina Garten's recipe is my favorite—it's simple, elegant, and perfect with a strong cup of coffee.

5. An Edible Basket

Here at Food Hacks, we're all about edible bowls. Puff pastry baskets—or "vol au vents"—are simple, delicious, and make cleaning up dishes a thing of the past!

Cut large discs out of your puff pastry sheet. Then, imprint a smaller disc into the center—but do not cut all the way through.

Bake until puffed up and light golden brown. Then, using a very sharp paring knife, trace along the smaller disk imprint.

Remove inner circle and set aside for now.

Pipe your desired filling into the basket (I'm using a chicken stock velouté with blended leeks, kale, and asparagus).

Then, top with the lid you initially cut out and serve!

The Possibilities Are Endless!

Puff pastry's versatility is unlimited. It's the reason you can replicate the famous cronuts in the comfort of your own kitchen, and why pot pie isn't just a boring bowl of vegetables.

Whatever your sweet or savory needs, get ready to huff, "puff," and blow your dining guests away!

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Photos by Laura Holman / Food Hacks

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