Flaky pastry

Flaky pastry

Leiths How to Cook
500 g
Peter Cassidy

Flaky pastry has small cubes of butter added in stages to the détrempe as well as during the rolling and folding process. These small cubes flatten out in the layers, separating the layers and creating a flakiness in the finished baked pastry. Flaky pastry has 5 roll and folds and can rise double its thickness when cooked. Like puff pastry, flaky pastry can be prepared in advance; the same guidelines apply.


Quantity Ingredient
250g plain flour, plus extra to dust
1/2 scant teaspoon salt
170g unsalted butter, cold but pliable
90-120ml water, chilled, (6-8 tablespoons)


  1. Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes (about 5–7 mm) and divide into 4 piles; add one pile, so a quarter of the butter, to the bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 90 ml chilled water and, using a cutlery knife, mix everything together quickly and efficiently for about 15–20 seconds, turning the bowl as you stir.
  2. The flour, butter and water will form large flakes. Drag the large flakes to the side of the bowl and add more water, ½ tablespoon at a time, to the dry flour and crumb in the bottom of the bowl. Quickly stir again with the knife, to create large flakes, adding a little more water if necessary. You should ideally not add any more than about 8 tablespoons water, or the pastry may start to toughen.
  3. Feel the large flakes, and if there seems to be a good amount of moisture within them and the water is evenly distributed, pull the large flakes together in your hands and work the pastry a little to bring it together into a homogeneous pastry that is fairly smooth with a uniform colour.
  4. Shape the détrempe into a block about 12 x 17 cm and 2–3 cm thick, wrap closely in cling film and place in the fridge to relax for about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the détrempe from the fridge, unwrap and place on a floured surface, with a side end facing you. Ridge the détrempe gently, patting up and down on it and keeping the rolling pin parallel to your body.
  6. Try to keep the sides straight and the corners of the pastry square, using a palette knife or your hands, but keep your hand contact with the pastry minimal to prevent the pastry warming up. Keep ridging as much as possible, as it is better for the pastry than rolling, then roll with quick, short sharp rolls, gently encouraging the pastry to lengthen rather than applying too much pressure and stretching it. Avoid creating thick ends at the top and bottom. Roll back a little if necessary and avoid rolling over the top and bottom edge, as you will stretch the top layer and create uneven numbers of layers, which will result in uneven rising.
  7. When the pastry is about 3 times as long as it is wide, re-check that the sides are straight and corners square, then, using a cutlery knife, dab another quarter of the cold, pliable butter over the top two-thirds of the pastry, leaving a 1 cm border around the edge without butter. Fold the bottom third of the pastry up over the middle third and the top third down and over the bottom and middle third, so the butter is interwoven in the layers. Turn the pastry so the folded side is to your left. This is known as a roll and fold.
  8. Now commence the second roll and fold, making sure the pastry is cold to the touch and the butter is not breaking through the détrempe and becoming greasy. If it appears to be, then scatter some flour over the butter, dust it off with a pastry brush and continue. Once the pastry is 3 times as long as it is wide again, fold the pastry into three as before, this time without butter. This is known as a blind roll and fold.
  9. Wrap the flaky pastry closely in cling film, making a note of how many roll and folds you have done, and place in the fridge again to relax and keep the fat cool.
  10. Repeat the 2 roll and folds again, adding the third pile of butter in the third roll and fold and the remaining butter in the fourth. Wrap closely in cling film and chill again for about 20 minutes, making sure the butter does not firm up too much.
  11. Repeat a blind roll and fold (without butter), to make a total of 5 roll and folds. If the pastry is streaky, you will need a sixth, but generally flaky pastry has 5 roll and folds. Keep wrapped in the fridge until needed.


  • Traditionally flaky pastry was made using half butter and half lard.
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