How to make puff pastry and rolled in doughs

It’s time to give some secrets away.

Most of this blog is dedicated to art. To the beauty of a thing. But here we are going to talk about the science of a thing. Giving away the secrets that will help you to be successful in your cooking adventures. This section may not be to everyone’s liking. It probably won’t be filled with stories. It probably will be filled with lists of definitions. But that appeals to the fact-checker in me. The one who desperately wants you to know that the science of a thing is often what creates the beauty of a thing.

So what is rolled in dough?

Simply, laminated dough, also known as rolled in dough, is any dough that has part or all of the fat incorporated using a rolled in method creating layers of fat sandwiched between layers of dough. The two basic categories of laminated dough are yeast-raised and steam raised. The distinction between these two doughs is important because of the functions they both serve. Before we get into the how and why let’s go over a few terms.

Croissant dough, also known as Danish pastry dough, is a yeasted dough similar to puff pastry with the addition of yeast leavening. Rolled in butter gives it it’s characteristic flakiness.

Brioche style Danish pastry dough is a rich dough containing eggs. Although this dough does not normally contain as many eggs as a traditional brioche it can also be known as flaky brioche.

Puff pastry is a remarkable dough that can rise to nearly eight times its original height using only the steam as its leavening agent.

Blitz pastry commonly known as rough puff is actually a very flaky pie dough that is rolled and folded like puff pastry. It is known to be quicker and easier to make than classic puff pastry. In this formula, the butter is cut into the flour, as for pie, using a food processor or pastry blender. Then the wet ingredients are added to form a dough and the procedure for puff pastry is resumed.

Rolling in a procedure inwich the fat is incorpotated after the dough is formed. It is then rolled and folded to create increasing numbers of layers.

Turn each complete rolling and folding step is called a turn. Named for the 90-degree turn you give the dough at the beginning of each step.

3-fold a three fold is accomplished by forming a large rectangle about three times as long as the dough is wide, folding the top third over the center third nd then the bottom third over the top. (see photos)

4-fold a four-fold is accomplished by forming a large rectangle about three times as long as the dough is wide, folding the top down to the center (not over as in three-fold) the bottom up to the center and folding this in half at the center line. This is also known as a book fold.

Croissant Dough

Did it surprise you that croissants have their own dough? It surprised me! I thought croissants were made from puff pastry until just a little over 2 years ago when I tried making big flaky croissants from a blitz pastry. There was nothing but disappointment when out of the oven came sloppy greasy dense, albeit crispy on the outside, things that roughly resembled croissants. I was so frustrated because the same blitz pastry did fairly well when I cooked up a batch of small croissants to serve alongside dinner just a few nights before. So what happened? Well, the answer lies in the science of the dough. For instance, a yeast-raised laminated dough given 3 three-folds (27 layers) will give a perfectly crispy-fluffy texture to the giant croissant and other over-sized products like giant “popover” style Kouing Amann because the yeast is able to raise the bulk of dough that would be too heavy for steam alone to lift. The addition of yeast gives the baker the ability to produce large baked products that have an airy flaky texture. These products are normally given fewer turns as the end product tends to lean more towards the texture and use of bread.

Brioche style Danish pastry

Brioche style Danish pastry is typically used for large sweet baked goods. It is an excellent dough to use for large loaves of braided bread, especially those containing sweet cream cheese or fruit fillings. Again the yeasted dough is better suited to take on the extra weight of large products or heavy fillings. This dough is often the chosen dough for bear claws, snails. kringles, pecan maple rolls, lemon cheese pastries, and pinwheeles. When baked these products will have a crisp crust and a soft tender interior. (1)

Puff pastry

Puff pastry how do I love thee? let me count the ways.. guys there are a lot, I mean a lot of good uses for puff pastry. This little miracle of flour and butter. Puff pastry is generally a formula of flour, water, salt, and butter. That’s it. It’s kind of funny to think of something as dense and fat as butter being a good leavening agent. The trick is to get really, really thin even layers of butter and dough. Often given 4 four-folds this dough has over 1000 layers. These layers work so delicately together. The butter must be thick enough to steam as it melts and the layers of dough must be thin enough for the steam to be able to push them up. The oven also plays a very tricky role here. It must be set high enough that once the steam has done its lifting the dough is set into that form by heat. More isn’t better here, however, get the layers of butter to thin and they won’t create enough steam to lift any dough! puff pastry tastes great as a top crust for pot pie, a bottom crust for fruit tarts and works well for small pastries like palmers, papillons, small turnovers, or as patty shells where the pastry is cooked before it is filled. If you do attempt a large product with puff pasty try baking them at a high temperature until well risen and then lowering the temperature to avoid sogginess. (2) When cutting and forming puff pastry be as delicate as possible. Once the layers are pushed together with a knife or finger they will likly stick and not rise at all. (2)

Rough puff

Ah, dear, dear rough puff. As much as I am fond of puff pastry, I am un-fond of rough puff. Why? Because so many amateur bakers, like me, have found on some website somewhere this time-saving miracle that will get us tasty homemade croissants in no time! And all of those claims are just a bunch of hullabaloo. Rough puff is not croissant dough. Rough puff does not save oodles of time. It saves about 5 minutes max because you still have to roll and turn the dough. Honestly, I think this is why Paul Hollywood gives that look whenever someone says “I’m doing rough puff to save time”. The third major flaw with rough puff is the uneven distribution of butter. It may seem like the butter would be more evenly distributed because you pulsed it nicely into the flour, but what actually happens is you get little globs of butter instead of thin sheets or layers. You may find products that are made with rough puff to have some nice layers and some thick greasy spots. This happens when the butter has collected thickly in some areas making the dough too heavy to rise. This is also common when the butter is cut into cubes and placed along the dough to get folded in instead of creating one big sheet of butter. (see photos) An added problem with that “time saving” method is there will also be layers of dough that have no layers of butter in-between giving the final product uneven lift and irregular shapes. Anyway, back to the actual uses of rough puff. It will bake up to be nice and crisp and it will have some flakiness to it. It is good for uses in layered deserts where thin crips pastry contrasts nicely with creams and sauces.

A few notes when working with any laminated dough.

  • Your initial working of the dough should be as minimal as possible. The rolling and folding process is where most of the gluten development happens.
  • The butter for rolling in should neither be very hard or very soft. Soft butter will just get incorporated into the dough and butter that is too hard will not be very rollable. I normally pull my butter out of the fridge right before I’m going to form it and roll it into the dough. I cut the butter into mostly even cubes line them up and pound them flat. (see photo) the friction from pounding them flat will soften them a bit but no second refrigeration is required like it would be if you tried pounding a solid block of butter flat. Remember friction creates heat!
  • Don’t start your rolled in journey with some recipe for a whole wheat fat-free coconut oil thing. Rolled in doughs can be tricky enough without the addition of specialty ingredients. Once you have success with a basic recipe move on the trickier ones.
  • 30 minutes is a pretty good rest time between turns. You can stretch it to 45 minutes if you need to but try not to go a lot longer. Even though the dough is resting under refrigeration, because it probably rested on the counter for its first rise it is well on its way through the proofing process. Long rest times may cause over proofing and weaker dough.
  • The process of completing a turn will take about 3-5 minutes. Feel free to work on other projects or read a good book during the rest times.
  • Don’t be too intimidated to try. You have had to learn everything you know. This is just another one of those things.
how to make homemade puff pastry, rough puff, croissants, and danish pastry. Learning the techniques of rolled in dough.
how to make homemade puff pastry, rough puff, croissants, and danish pastry. Learning the techniques of rolled in dough.
how to make homemade puff pastry, rough puff, croissants, and danish pastry. Learning the techniques of rolled in dough.
how to make homemade puff pastry, rough puff, croissants, and danish pastry. Learning the techniques of rolled in dough.
how to make homemade puff pastry, rough puff, croissants, and danish pastry. Learning the techniques of rolled in dough.
5 from 1 vote

Rolled in Technique for 3 folds

This recipe is a written technique for rolling in butter as used in danish pastry and croissants 


  1. Perform your butter into a square about 9×9 for small batches and 11×11 for large batches. If the butter feels melty or super soft chill it for just a few minutes.  

  2. Roll your chilled dough into a large rectangle between 1/4  and 1/2 inch in thickness. The size of your rectangle will depend on the amount of dough you are using but it should be about 3 times as long as it is wide. 

  3. Place the square of chilled butter on the lower 2/3rds of the dough leaving a small margin along all sides. 

  4. Fold the unbuttered third of dough over the center of the butter. 

  5. Fold the remaining third of dough over the top. The butter is now considered incorporated!

  6. To start our folds we will rotate the dough 90 degrees. The short end of your new rectangle should be facing you. Repeat this rotation for each 3-fold to stretch the dough in all direction. 

  7. Roll the dough into a long rectangle.

  8. Fold the dough into thirds by first folding the top third over the center then the remaining third up. Wrap the dough loosely with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes. This was the first turn.   

  9. Take the dough from the fridge and place it so the short end of the rectangle is facing you. This is a 90-degree turn from the last time you worked the dough. Roll the dough into a long rectangle. Fold the top third down over the center and then the bottom third up. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill 30-45 minutes.  

  10. Repeat step 9 for third 3-fold.  Chill the dough for 30 minutes. 



  1. Stephanie N Baum
    April 19, 2020 / 8:09 pm

    5 stars
    These instructions are incredibly detailed and helpful, thanks so much for sharing your technique! I’m making Danishes for the first time and this was excellent and helped me understand what I’m actually trying to accomplish.

    • mandy
      April 20, 2020 / 6:12 pm

      Cool Stephanie! I’m so glad this information was able to help you. I’d love to see how your Danishes turned out. You could tag me in an Instagram post or story (@amessybunkitchen) if you are into that kind of thing. Happy Baking!

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