I’m usually good about keeping a lot of my baking ingredients in stock. Whether it’s chocolate chips or dry yeast, I’m diligent about resupplying product when it starts getting low. That said, there are a couple of things that no matter how hard I try, I can never seem to keep a supply of. One of those foods is puff pastry. I just never have the foresight to thaw my puff pastry the evening before, so keeping a box in the freezer is not my preference. But puff pastry is a very versatile ingredient to have on hand. You can make a lot of sweet and savory dishes with the dough, like this brie en croute, and so in the past, I often found myself running to the grocery store in need of a box. About a year ago, I learned how to make a really quick and easy puff pastry dough at home, and now I don’t always have to go to the store to buy the boxed sheets for my recipes.
Puff pastry, or pâté feuilletée (in French, meaning pastry made leaf-like), traditionally requires quite a bit of dough chilling, laminating with butter, and folding then rolling, very much like croissant dough. This can be a problem when you’re just looking to create a simple pastry crust for an easy appetizer or you’ve just realized you don’t have any puff pastry on hand. That’s when this quick and easy puff pastry recipe, which I’ve shared how to make in the video below, can really come in hand. One of my favorite ways to use puff pastry is to wrap the pastry around a wheel of brie to create brie en croute (literally translated to brie in toasted bread).
You just take a really creamy wheel of brie and completely envelope it in a sheet of puff pastry. Once it’s baked, the puff pastry becomes incredibly flaky and crisp, and the brie melts into a state that makes it, if you can believe it, even more creamy. Once you stab a knife or fork into the puff pastry envelope, brie will just flow out like running lava, waiting for you to scoop it up and have your mind blown. I like to add a big dollop of jam or some kind of preserve to the top of my brie, usually in the little gap where the puff pastry ends don’t quite meet, for a touch of sweetness (sometimes tartness if you’re using a berry preserve) and a pop of color. Whenever I make brie en croute for guests (which is the only time I make it as it’s too dangerous to make when I’m alone with no one to share), it’s devoured within minutes. It always looks like a pack of hungry animals attacked the cheese board; usually, all that’s left are a few stray flakes of puff pastry as evidence of an appetizer that once existed. If you’ve never had brie en croute, you have been missing out on what the French consider “the good life.”
- 125 grams all-purpose flour (approx. 1 cup), plus more for dusting counter with
- 140 grams cold unsalted butter (approx. 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp), cubed
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 - 4 tbsp cold water
- 1 wheel of double or triple creme brie
- jam or preserves for topping
- 1 egg, beaten with a splash of water to create an egg wash
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt for the puff pastry. Drop in the cubes of butter and use a pastry blender (or two knives, or your hands, or a food processor), to cut the butter into the flour and create pea-size clumps of dough.
- Stream in a tablespoon of water at a time and stir the dough with a wooden spoon. Once the dough is no longer shaggy, and instead forms a large mass, turn out the dough onto a floured counter/board.
- Sprinkle a little flour on the dough before rolling the dough out into a rectangular strip. Fold the dough into thirds before turning the dough so that the open end faces you. Again, roll out into a strip and fold into thirds. Repeat this step two mores times so that you've rolled and folded your dough 4 times in total. Place the puff pastry dough on a plate and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to chill.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. After 30 minutes, turn out the dough onto your floured surface and roll into a 1/8” to 1/4” thick square. Place your wheel of brie in the center of the dough. Gather the ends of the dough and bunch together over the top of the brie, so that the brie is enveloped inside the puff pastry. Pinch the seams together.
- Brush the puff pastry with your egg wash and bake on a sheet covered with parchment paper for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the puff pastry is looking golden and crisp throughout. Once out of the oven, top the center of the brie en croute with a big dollop of your favorite jam.
- Make sure your butter and water are very cold, and that your dough is thoroughly chilled after the 30 minutes of refrigeration, for the best