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Homemade Puff Pastry and Palmiers

Homemade Puff Pastry and Palmiers

A pair of recipes today! I made puff pastry from scratch. It is far and away the best puff pastry I have ever tasted, and I can say the same thing for the palmiers that resulted from the batch.

I primarily use frozen puff pastry. It is convenient, inexpensive and works very well. I certainly wouldn’t turn away from using it again, but it’s nice to have made puff pastry just to have the experience and skill to know that I can make it if I need to. And if I have a lot of butter on hand, as well as time for a lot of folding and a lot of rolling, since it’s not a quick and easy thing.

One of the biggest challenges is to keep the pressure even the whole time you are working with the dough so your edges will stay straight and none of the butter will be able to escape. Several people in class had problems with this and their pastry became gooey as their holes got larger and butter escaped.

To make a good pastry, shape your butter into an even rectangular block before you begin. Mush the block together and refrigerate to keep it firm. This way you will only have one piece of butter to work with and you will not have to worry about individual pieces moving around. Use lots of flour when rolling to prevent the dough from sticking. There is plenty of butter in the pasty, so you will not toughen it by using flour! A few people, since they were not using enough flour, had problems rolling their dough. The best way to roll is use lots of short strokes, which will prevent the butter from being pushed to the side and out of the dough. If you do make a small hole, dab a bit of flour over it so it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin and continue on. It will probably get covered during the next fold.

Many instructions state that it is necessary to make 6 turns in your pastry. When you’re making it by hand, you should only make 3 or 4 turns. It simply isn’t that practical to try so many turns without the consistency of a machine – your odds of tearing your dough or squeezing out the butter really increase. Try for 4 turns and stop at 3 if you seem to be getting a few holes. As long as the butter stays inside your pastry, your dough will still be flaky.

Puff Pastry
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup cake flour
10 ounces butter, cold (2 1/2 sticks), divided
1 1/4 tsp salt
3/4 – 1 cup cold water

Take 8 ounces of butter (2 sticks) and shape into a block roughly 1/4 inch thick. If you are using stick butter, slice each stick into three long pieces and make a 2×3 block. Press butter together well and refrigerate.

Combine flours and salt in food processor. Pulse lightly to combine. Add remaining 2 ounces (1/2 stick) of butter and cut in until dough looks like sand. With the motor running, add 3/4 cup water. If dough has not come together, add remaining water slowly.
Flatten dough into a smooth disk, wrap and chill for 1 hour.

On a well floured surface, roll dough out into a large (10 inches or so) circle. Set butter block in the center and fold up the extra dough as though you were folding an envelope: fold over the sides, the fold the top down and the bottom up. Turn the seam side down and roll until envelope has quadrupled in size. USe short strokes, keeping the pressure as even as possible, and lots of flour.
Fold the dough in thirds as though you were folding a business letter. This is one turn. Wrap and refrigerate dough for at least one hour and up to two days.
To make turns 2, 3 and 4, place chilled dough seam side down on a well-floured surface and roll out again into a large rectangle. Try to keep the dough as evenly rectangular as possible. Fold as you would a business letter. Wrap and chill.
Dough can be frozen until ready to use.

These are the best palmiers I have ever eaten. What a difference homemade pastry makes – though ones made with store bought will be almost as good if you buy a high quality dough. Don’t put cinnamon in your palmiers. As it was put in class: “French people will roll over in the graves if you do.” Even the living ones? Yes, even the living ones.

1 recipe for puff pastry
lots of sugar

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out your puff pastry on a floured surface until it is as thin as you can get it. Cover generously with sugar. Starting at the right side, roll the pastry until it reaches the center. Repeat with the left side.
Cut roll into 1/2 inch segments.
Spread more sugar onto your work surface. Fold each segment into a V shape and press it down into the sugar, flattening it with the palm of your hand. Use lots of sugar. Place each palmier on baking sheet.
Bake 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Homemad Palmiers Stack

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  • cookie jill
    May 26, 2005

    I bow to your genious. 😉

  • Nic
    May 26, 2005

    Jill – You’re too kind. I hope I don’t sound like a jerk in my post with all my “best”s – but it’s the truth! =)

  • Ana
    May 26, 2005

    Wonderful Nic. I have yet to try my hand at puff pastry. It is so much easier (read less scary) to purchase frozen puff pastry….

    One of these days I have to try. After I’m done with the garden, let’s see…by next winter???

  • Melissa
    May 28, 2005

    Puff Pastry—-The ‘Mother’ of all Pastry Dough! Bravo Nic!!!!
    My next ‘accomplishment’ will be the Inversee’ (inside/out) method. I did it at Le Notre’, but haven’t tried it at home yet. Do you think you are going to try that one?
    I must say again, I’m enjoying your Blog, and from the many comments you are receiving, you are an inspiration to others!

  • Jan Kimpton
    February 23, 2008

    please let me know where i can buy really good puff pastry and have it mailed to my house in ohio



  • Zoë François
    November 24, 2008

    I have been meaning to make puff pastry, this is just the inspiration I needed! Gorgeous!

  • Jesse
    November 24, 2008

    I’m afraid if I make palmiers at home I’ll eat every single one. They’re beautiful!

  • amanda
    April 19, 2009

    Although I’ve heard these called palmiers, I always grew up calling them ‘elephant ears’….and still do to this day!! Thanks for the recipe!

  • Karen from altmednetwork
    April 21, 2009

    Thank you so much for your recipe! I have never known how to make puff pastry let alone my favorite cookies – palmiers!

  • Angelica
    May 14, 2009

    I tried making my own puff pastry today, but it just didn’t work. The butter escaped through holes, and it turned into a big mess. Thanks for the recipe, I envy you for mastering the art of making puff pastry, but I think I’ll buy my puff pastry in the future.

  • Olive
    July 20, 2009

    Thanks for the recipe, I’ve been looking for this recipe, most of what I’ve seen are from ready-made puff pastries. They look so delicious, I’ve never tried making puff pastry before but I’m willing to try. Thanks again 🙂

  • Serendipity
    July 21, 2009

    Thanks for the recipe. I have made puff pastry once before and whilst it worked out, it was a little buttery in flavour for the palmiers. I will try it again as the palmiers are my favourites and as the old saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect’,. To Amanda I’d like to say, don’t give up girl, just cause you made a mess of things the first time doesn’t mean you won’t get it right eventually. Believe me, it’s worth the end result. 🙂

  • Serendipity
    July 21, 2009

    Ops! Sorry Amanda, I meant Angelica…..

  • Morta Di Fame
    October 22, 2009

    wow, this seems super complicated and time consuming! but i bet probably worth the result. its like one of those things you have to just try once…then just buy store-bought after! or it will be SO good you can never buy store bought again. thanks for the scoop!

  • andy
    November 23, 2010

    try putting some baking powder into your butter,it makes a nice extra puff,great in turnover and strudels.

  • Bonnie
    September 18, 2012

    Thanks for the dough recipe. These are good. I never follow directions, I like to test other ways. I like simple. I put all the butter in my food processor and added the salt and stir. Then I added all the flour and 1/2 cup of water and stir. The I add another 1/4 cup of water and mixed well. I took it out and divide in 2 small bowls, covered and put in the Frig for an hour. I put a cup of sugar in a bowl and added 1 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, mix well. Instead of dusting with flour I dusted with a lot of sugar mixture on the surface and dusted the top too..then rolled it out. It may stick a little just add more sugar. So dust roll, flip repeat. I roll it out and dust, roll more then flip..a couple times. Then I fold it each end to the middle to make a square and repeat the previous steps again to I have it the right side square. I make sure ever time I dust I roll pin to push in the sugar. Once it is the size square I want, I turn just a small edge toward the center, dust the edge with sugar, roll the edge slightly flat again..do same for other side. I do this till I meet the center then fold the 2 edges together and dust again. I then take my hands and form it to the perfect shape log, put in wax paper in the frig for a couple hours. I do the same thing to the next one…make another bowl of sugar and repeat the process. I bake till golden brown. I like the cinnamon, good with out too…they came out just like the ones I bought at Whole Foods. Yummy

  • Haley
    June 11, 2014

    Wow!! This puff pastry recipe is fabulous and, honestly, pretty fool proof! I’ve never made puff pastry before and generally don’t have great luck when baking but my palmiers turned out fabulously. Thanks!

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