When you have a box of frozen puff pastry on hand, you’ve got a head start on a wide array of dishes, from flaky appetizers to buttery desserts to main courses such as our Upside-Down Tomato Tart—but if you’re not careful, you may inadvertently inhibit your puff’s performance. Here are five common mistakes to avoid while working with this freezer aisle favorite.
1. TRYING TO SPEED UP THAWING TIME
We’ve all been there: You forgot to pull your puff pastry out of the freezer ahead of time, and now you’re considering leaving the box on the countertop to thaw more quickly. Resist the temptation! You can thaw puff pastry on the counter if your kitchen is cool, but you risk overheating it. The safest bet is always to defrost it slowly in the fridge.
2. ROLLING OVER THE DOUGH’S EDGES
Watch where you roll: When rolling out your dough to the correct size, make sure you don’t roll over the edges of the sheet. Flattening the edges inhibits the “puff.”
3. USING A DULL KNIFE
Along the same lines, a too-dull knife will also pinch the puff pastry’s edges together—to preserve the flaky layers, you need a knife or bench scraper with a keen blade to make clean, precise cuts.
4. BAKING IMMEDIATELY AFTER SHAPING AND CUTTING
If you pop your pastry directly into the oven after you’ve cut and shaped it, you risk the butter melting too quickly and leaking out. Just a 15 to 30 minute chilling period in the fridge before baking will firm the butter and help retain flakiness.
5. TOSSING YOUR LEFTOVERS
If you thaw more puff pastry than you need for your recipe, you needn’t waste it: Simply refreeze what’s left over. In testing, we’ve found that there is little difference between dough frozen once and dough frozen twice; pastry made with all butter (rather than butter and shortening) won’t rise quite as high after a double freeze, but the effect is minimal.