Shortcuts that aren't so short

 rough puff pastry

I will eat almost anything that is encased in puff pastry. Although the puff that is found in most supermarket freezers will suffice, nothing beats the homemade version. It is, however, fairly intensive to make at home and, between all of the rolling and resting, it takes a fair amount of time. So I would welcome a shortcut that would produce nearly the same results as the traditional method but with less time and effort. 

That's why I eagerly clicked on a link that came through my Twitter feed recently for Rough puff pastry. It promised that it was "for cheaters", which I interpreted as "quick and easy." I was more than a little disappointed to read that the process would take about three hours and involved several turns, making it difficult to complete on a weeknight (or even on a typical weekend day in our household). The recipe, however, does say that one can "stop at any "natural pauses" in the recipe to go walk your dog, watch Netflix, or whatever…" - but it also says you should start the first step the night before you do the rest of it, so it seemed like this "shortcut" dough wasn't much of a shortcut. 

It made me wonder just how much time and effort were being saved by using this method. I re-read my go-to puff pastry recipe that I got from a friend who is a pastry chef. She posits that the entire hands-on process is only about 38 minutes. Her breakdown is as follows: 

Gather equipment and ingredients 5 min.
Scale out ingredients 5 min.
Make dough 5 min.
Prepare roll-in fat 7 min.
Enclose roll-in fat 3 min.
First turn 2 min.
Second turn 2 min.
Third turn 2 min.
Fourth turn 2 min.
Clean-up 5 min.

Comparing this to the shortcut recipe's folds, turns, cleaning the food processor used to grate the butter, and recommendation to start by shredding the butter the night before, I thought to myself "why not just make traditional puff pastry?" The only advantage I see to this '"rough puff" method is that you don't have to worry about tearing the dough and exposing the butter block, which is a concern.

If I'm going to cheat, I'll use an easier recipe than the one linked above, or similar recipes in the EYB Library. Most of them require refrigeration in between each turn, which to me negates any "quick and easy" label given to the recipe. Flo Braker's Heavy cream flaky pastry (from her excellent tome Sweet Miniatures) is what I use instead. It still takes about three hours, but that is all resting time. You do just one turn in the beginning - there's about twenty minutes of hands-on time up front - and then you're ready to roll, fill, and bake. The dough puffs dramatically. A recipe similar to Braker's can be found on the indexed blog Chocolate and Zucchini. Clotilde Dusoulier's Rough puff (pictured top) calls for four turns (folding and rolling) up front, with a fairly short rest in the refrigerator afterward.

Have you ever been disappointed by a shortcut that wasn't?


  • TheRollingScones  on  3/3/2017 at 2:05 PM

    I have nominated this site for a Sunshine Award!

  • Foodycat  on  3/4/2017 at 4:26 AM

    I don't see rough puff as a shortcut - it's an entirely different pastry beast. For when you want a bit of lift and flakiness but not the full on laminated loft of puff.

  • PegMallon  on  3/5/2017 at 8:48 AM

    Long ago I fell for a shortcut recipe, Microwave Beef Stew. Tasted and looked good but took unbelievable amount of time and effort.

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