This super easy 'Mad Genius' recipe opens up a whole world of dessert possibilities.

Caitlin Petreycik
November 27, 2018

Making your own perfectly flaky, buttery, puff pastry doesn't have to be labor-intensive...if you're down for a 15-minute arm workout. In this week's episode of Mad Genius TipsFood & Wine culinary director Justin Chapple demonstrates how to make an equally delicious "cheater's version" of the famously fussy dessert staple using a food processor, frozen butter, bread flour, and some intense rolling pin moves. 

Mad Genius shortcut number one: Chapple outfits his food processor with a slicer blade, then feeds it butter that he's frozen for about 20 minutes. This ensures that the butter pats will be solid, and uniformly thin. "I like to use a really nice butter," he says. "Buy the best you can, because you're really going to taste it." The frozen butter pats are then transferred to a plate and popped back in the freezer while Chapple starts the dough. 

Shortcut number two: use bread flour as your base. "The reason I'm using bread flour is because it's much stronger, and we're going to be rolling this quite a few times in a row, so we want to make sure we're using something that has a lot of gluten," Chapple explains.

After the flour gets mixed with kosher salt and cold water, Chapple rolls it out. "Traditionally, when you make puff pastry, you start with your dough and then you take this huge block of butter and you put it in the middle," he says. "Then you wrap it up in the dough, and then you roll it out, then you fold it, then you chill it, you take it out...you do that a total of six times." So, in the interest of speediness, Chapple's third shortcut involves layering that pre-sliced frozen butter on top of the rolled-out dough—"this is going to look like a ton, but believe it or not this is what's in puff pastry"—and folding the whole thing several times until it looks kind of like a burrito. 

As for shortcut four, it involves some fancy rolling pin moves that you really need to see. Check out the video, above, and go forth and make some tarts (or turnovers, or chicken pot pie).