Puff pastry is something that I don’t use on a regular basis.  As you probably know, it’s buttery, flaky pastry with dozens of thin layers of dough puffing up to great heights.  By virtue of the quantity of butter it contains, it definitely falls under the “special occasion” category in our kitchen.  When we do use it, then, we want it to be worth the splurge which means I always make it from scratch.

I first made puff pastry from scratch a few years ago and haven’t bought a single package of the store bought kind since.  It doesn’t even begin to compare to homemade.  As with so many things that seem daunting initially, the process of making this at home is actually quite simple.  The only time consuming part is the multiple chill steps included, but those are inactive.  The rest is pretty much just rolling and folding.  Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it.

When I asked for feedback about what sorts of whole grain recipes you all would like to see, a number of people mentioned pastries.  I was interested to see how a whole grain puff pastry would measure up to the traditional white version.  Of course, this is still by no means healthy, but if we can make an indulgent treat slightly healthier without sacrificing taste, why not?  And that’s exactly what happened.  I personally do not notice a difference in taste between this and regular puff pastry.  It still turns out buttery, flaky and beautiful.

King Arthur Flour has generously agreed to provide several great giveaways over the course of this whole grain baking series.  Today we are giving away a flour coupon plus a bench knife which comes in extremely handy for many things including making pastries.  Head on over to the giveaway page to enter!  Also, be sure to check out King Arthur Flour’s Whole Grain Baking book and their website for hundreds more delicious and reliable whole grain recipes.

And on Wednesday, check back to see what I did with my first batch of puff pastry.  It was so, so very good.

  • Yield 3¾ lbs. dough


For the dough: 
3 cups (10 1/8 oz.) whole wheat pastry flour
3 cups (12 ¾ oz.) unbleached bread flour
2 tbsp. (½ oz.) nonfat dry milk
4 tbsp. (2 oz.) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tsp. salt
1½ cups plus 2 tbsp. (13 oz.) water

For the butter square: 
2 cups (1 lb.) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1/3 cup (1 1/8 oz.) whole wheat pastry flour

Unbleached all-purpose flour, for dusting the work surface


  • 01

    In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flours and dry milk.  Add the butter to the bowl and cut into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal and the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas.  (This can also be done by hand with a pastry blender.)  Mix the salt into the water, then add the water to the bowl with the flour mixture.  Mix gently until a dough pulls together.

  • 02

    Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently until it is smooth and a bit springy, about 2-3 minutes.  (Avoid adding extra flour as much as possible – the more flour added, the more dense your dough will be.)  The dough may be slightly wet or tacky initially because the whole wheat flour takes more time to absorb the liquid.  Pat the dough into a square 1-inch thick, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

  • 03

    To make the butter square, combine the butter and flour in a bowl.  Mix until smooth and well blended with no lumps.

  • 04

    Lightly flour a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper, add the butter mixture to it and spread/pat into an 8-inch square.  Cover, place on a flat surface in the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes.

  • 05

    Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured work surface.

    Gently roll into a 12 inch square.  Place the butter square on top in the center of the dough at a 45˚ angle.

    Pull the flaps of the dough over the edges of the butter square until they meet in the middle.  Pinch and seal the edges (moistening slightly if necessary.)

  • 06

    Dust the top of the dough with flour, them turn over and tap gently with the rolling pin into a rectangular shape.  (Check the underside of the dough periodically to be sure it isn’t sticking, adding more flour if necessary.)

    Roll the dough out into a 10 x 20-inch rectangle.

  • 07

    Brush any excess flour off the surface of the dough.  Mark off the dough into thirds widthwise.  Fold one side over and then the other on top, like a business letter, taking care to line up the edges carefully.

    This completes the first turn.

  • 08

    If the dough is still cool and relaxed, roll it out again to a 10 x 20-inch rectangle and then fold into thirds.  (If not, chill the dough 20 minutes before proceeding.)  This completes the second turn.

  • 09

    Repeat this process four more times for a total of six turns.  Wait at least 1 hour between sets of turns (so do 2 turns, wait 1 hour, 2 more turns, wait 1 hour, last 2 turns.)  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 day, or freeze until ready to use.