Baked Puff Pastry Layer {ModBak}

The second recipe in the Puff Pastry section of The Modern Baker is, like the instant puff pastry, used as a base for many of the recipes that follow. I was a little nervous the first time I made the pastry layer, as I knew another recipe would rise or fall based on how well I did making the base.

The recipe isn’t particularly difficult, although the technique was new to me. I began by flouring a pastry mat and rolling out a quarter batch of puff pastry dough.

The dough was very firm when I got it out of the fridge. I pressed it with the rolling pin using short strokes rather than rolling from end to end. This flattened the dough and  began to soften it.

Once the dough had softened up a bit, I rolled it (without going over the ends), turned it 90°, rolled again, and continued turning and rolling until I had a thin rectangle of dough. 

A few more turns and rolls, and the dough was the size of my 10 x 15-inch pan. I checked the size by laying a piece of parchment cut to the size of the pan on top of the dough.

To transfer the dough to the pan, I folded it in thirds, then lifted it to the parchment-covered jellyroll sheet.

I fit the dough in the pan, then covered it loosely with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for a few hours before baking it.

When I was ready to bake the dough, I preheated the oven to 350°F. Once the oven was heated, I took the dough out of the refrigerator, uncovered it, and pricked the surface of the dough with a fork.

This is where the recipe got interesting. In order to keep the pastry layer flat while baking, I covered it with parchment,…

…then topped it with another jellyroll pan.

I baked the pastry layer for 20 minutes, then grabbed both pans and flipped them over and baked the dough for another 15 minutes on the other side. (The recipe called for baking the pastry for 15 minutes, then flipping the pan and baking an additional 10 minutes. Even though my oven heats correctly, it took an additional five minutes on each side. I suspect this is because my pans are double insulated airflow pans.) I took the pans out of the oven, lifted the top one off, then checked the pastry for doneness. It was crispy and nicely browned.

I replaced the top pan and cooled the pastry layer between the pans to keep it from curling as it cooled. Then I removed it from the pans and let it rest on cooling rack until I was ready to use it.

One of the classic uses of a baked puff pastry layer is for a dessert called “mille-feuille”, which translates to “thousand leaves”, referring to the layers that well-made puff pastry exhibits.

Nick’s instant puff pastry dough, prepared this way, is perfect for mille-feuille, Napoleons, and any other recipe requiring a thin, shatteringly crisp pastry layer. But a word of warning: most recipes require you to cut the pasty layer to the size or shape needed for that particular application. The layer cuts beautifully, but it may take some resolve on your part not to shove all the scrap pieces in your mouth.

More resolve than I have.

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14 Comments

  1. December 26, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    […] started with a baked puff pastry layer made using homemade puff pastry. I layered the baked pastry sheet with smoked salmon and a […]

  2. August 29, 2011 at 7:02 am

    […] four components — crème anglaise, macerated berries, whipped cream, and disks cut from a baked pastry layer. Crème […]

  3. August 22, 2011 at 7:56 am

    […] the base of this dessert. Like the Napoleons that I made recently, the mille feuille is made with a baked pastry layer. In this case, the filling is a vanilla custard layered with raspberries and whipped […]

  4. August 15, 2011 at 7:35 am

    […] of mille feuille, which consist of a filling (usually sweet, but sometimes savory) between baked layers of puff pastry. Mille feuille is French for “thousand leaves”, a reference to the delicate layers […]

  5. Renee said,

    August 10, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Great photos! I totally realized what I did wrong on mine now. Please don’t laugh…. please! I folded the dough and put it on the sheet but I didn’t unfold it. Yes, I baked it folded in thirds. Okay, you can laugh. In my defense the directions did not specify to unfold it and I kept thinking puff pastry is supposed to be layered. The elephant ears are folded and then expand. It totally made sense at the time however when they came out I realized I did something wrong.

    • gaaarp said,

      August 10, 2011 at 1:47 pm

      OK. I must confess: I laughed. But only because it wasn’t until my second or third reading of the instructions that I realized it was supposed to be unfolded.

      Yours must have been very, um, puffy. 😉

  6. Abby said,

    August 8, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Oh, so glad you posted these process photos. I made my batch of puff pastry yesterday, and have the pieces waiting in the freezer to make my dad’s birthday raspberry mille-feuille on Thursday. Now I can follow your post for baking the layers!

    • gaaarp said,

      August 8, 2011 at 10:58 pm

      I read through the instructions 3 or 4 times the first time I made it. It seemed like such a detailed process. But once I actually started, it was easy and worked really well. I think having 2 pans that nest well is key to keeping the layer flat while you bake it and it cools. Once it’s cool, you can take it out of the pans and rest it on a cutting board until you’re ready for it.

    • gaaarp said,

      August 8, 2011 at 10:59 pm

      Oh, and I made the raspberry mille-feuille. It’s to die for!

  7. August 8, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    […] at my next Tuesday with Friends.Phyl has great process pics Making the Pastry Dough and making the Baked Pastry Layer. So if you need details please visit Phyl.The Napoleon is on page 198 of Malgieri’s The […]

  8. Margaret said,

    August 8, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Good to know it came out for you. Made mine yesterday. Will refer back to yours for process photos. Good job!!

    • gaaarp said,

      August 8, 2011 at 5:24 pm

      Thanks. Your write up on the Napoleons was great. And thanks for the shout out!

  9. Kayte said,

    August 8, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Great process photos! A picture is worth so much…so thanks for the details.

    • gaaarp said,

      August 8, 2011 at 5:23 pm

      You’re welcome. This recipe is like the pastry doughs in the last few secitons — the more you make it, the easier it gets. I’m becoming pretty handy at rolling out puff pastry.


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