Why does butter leak out of my puff pastry?


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I've searched on the internet for this answer but can't find anything much and not anything that seems right.

I've tried making puff pastry a couple of times but when I put it in the oven the butter just forms a sizzling puddle on the baking tray creating a bottom to my pastry that's greasy and looks deep fried.

I followed two different recipes (Paul Hollywood and Lorraine Pascale) and followed them exactly. I was really happy with how the dough looked, no butter seeped through on rolling and it was well-chilled at each stage. I put it in a hot oven - my oven runs a bit cold so I have thermometer in there and it was 180C Fan, though I heated it to 200C Fan and turned it down once the pastry was in so I didn't lose heat on opening the oven. But within 5 minutes I had a pool of sizzling butter. I took a photo of some offcuts I put in, just in case the filling (apple turnovers) was having an effect but the same thing happened. I got a reasonable rise and some nice lamination from the turnovers and cheese straws I did but I found them too greasy to eat.

I just don't know why it's happening and I've had two days where everything I've made has gone wrong - puff, choux, Italian meringue buttercream, poppyseed shortcrust - I mean, SHORTCRUST! It's been a disaster and I'm feeling I've lost my mojo, made worse by my husband (a non-baker) just bringing in the most delicious jam tarts I've ever tasted that he's knocked up in half an hour whilst cooking me dinner.

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I think you have several issues.

Butter plasticity
  • Butter temperature and plasticity is critical.
  • Cold enough to not absorb into the detrempe (dough)
  • Pliable enough to expand (roll out) with the detrempe
  • May add 5% - 10% flour to butter to increase plasticity
Lock in
  • roll out detremepe evenly
  • square up sides of detrempe
  • take care to measure carefully so there is not overlap
  • roll out — do not stretch and pull dough

Fused layers
  • dough is not puffing because the layers are tearing and fusing together when you are rolling
  • caused by too much gluten in the dough, then stretching and pulling the dough instead of rolling it
  • the minute the dough springs back, that is a sign there is too much gluten. STOP the second you see the dough spring back. Wrap it up and put it in the fridge to rest for at least 40 – 60 mins.

DDT & proofing
  • Desired Dough Temperature (DDT) 72°F – 77°F*
  • First fermentation: 40°F (resting, turns 40 – 60 min; retard up to 15 hrs)
  • Final proofing: 78°F
  • Humidity: 65% rh


*DDT explained in simple terms:



I wrote an explanation of DDT for someone using a cinnamon roll recipe they were using. Calculating DDT is the same no matter what you are making. If you want me to post the explanation, let me know.


===========================================

Tips on rolling laminated dough

Before you begin rolling, use the rolling pin and gently tap from the center out to the edge. Tap just enough to stretch the dough, but not so hard you break the beurrage .

Turn the dough and repeat in all four directions. By tapping over the dough, the beurrage and dough are expanded together.

After tapping over the dough, begin rolling from the center out. With each pass of the rolling pin, check to make sure the dough is not stuck to your work surface.

If you roll over the dough when it’s stuck, you will stretch and tear the upper layers inside. Torn layers inside will cause leaking during proofing and baking. Fused layers won’t rise properly.

Watch the dough with each pass of the rolling pin. If it shrinks back, immediately stop. Cover it and place it in the refrigerator for at least 40 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.

Dough that shrinks back when you roll over it is a sure sign that there is too much gluten development. Depending on the amount of gluten development, you can still get a decent product. But you have to allow the dough to rest long enough between turns to let the gluten relax.


================================================


These two blogs demonstrate the proper way to laminate dough. The only difference between puff pastry and croissant dough is yeast. They are both laminated doughs, and the lamination process is the same.

https://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/video-making-baking-classic-french-croissants/ blog


 
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Thanks for your answer. My puff wasn't too bad actually - my photo was really poor for showing that but it was the best pic of the butter leaking out. The pastry in the photo was really thin shards of offcuts so wasn't expecting an even rise. I'll attach a pic of the cheese straws that had a better puff but the butter still leaked. I think I followed most of the points in your advice - Lorraine Pascale makes a point about the gluten and shrinking so I was keeping a close eye out for that. She is also meticulous about the rolling and resting. When I cut the raw dough there were lovely clear layers, I just don't know why the butter seeped out. Obviously when butter is hot it melts but I guess the idea is it evaporates and is also incorporated into the dough during cooking. But not mine. The only thing I could find specifically about butter leakage was oven temp so I made sure it was quite hot but still the same results. Hopefully my pic has some clues. The cheese affected the puff a bit but I forgot to take pics of my apple turnovers where you could actually see the puff.

tempImageVjKF9g.jpg
 
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Thanks for your answer. My puff wasn't too bad actually - my photo was really poor for showing that but it was the best pic of the butter leaking out. The pastry in the photo was really thin shards of offcuts so wasn't expecting an even rise. I'll attach a pic of the cheese straws that had a better puff but the butter still leaked. I think I followed most of the points in your advice - Lorraine Pascale makes a point about the gluten and shrinking so I was keeping a close eye out for that. She is also meticulous about the rolling and resting. When I cut the raw dough there were lovely clear layers, I just don't know why the butter seeped out. Obviously when butter is hot it melts but I guess the idea is it evaporates and is also incorporated into the dough during cooking. But not mine. The only thing I could find specifically about butter leakage was oven temp so I made sure it was quite hot but still the same results. Hopefully my pic has some clues. The cheese affected the puff a bit but I forgot to take pics of my apple turnovers where you could actually see the puff.

View attachment 3520

Laminated dough is very difficult. It is advanced pastry. Don’t be discouraged.

The layers are actually fused even though you have rise. They don’t have distinct separation.

There is also blistering which is a sign that the butter shattered. Butter contains water; water turns to steam. When the crust is dotted with blisters, that means there were broken bits of butter that melted, released water that turned to steam and formed blisters in those areas. If the butter was in a sheet, the butter would have melted as a single sheet between each layer, the steam would give the layer as a whole rise and separation. There wouldn’t be blistering.

Shattered butter means fusing of layers as well. When the butter is too cold and not pliable, as you rolled out the dough, the butter shattered into pieces instead of rolling out into a single sheet. When the butter shatters, the dough layers cannot maintain separation; so each time you roll over the dough, the layers fuse between the empty spaces areas where the butter shattered.

The information I provide on butter plasticity, DDT, fermentation temperatures, proofing temperature, and humidity are key. These are all taught in culinary training and used in production in bakeries. If you don’t use these controls, you end up with leaky, fused puff pastry.

Even with all my training, it took several tries to get my laminated dough passable. Laminated dough is one of the more difficult doughs to properly produce. Don’t be discouraged.
 
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Ah, thank you, that makes sense. So even though I didn't see any butter come through the dough when rolling, it's obviously separated. Butter then maybe need to be slightly warner. I've seen someone suggest combining a little bit of the flour in with the butter initially, just to make it more malleable for rolling so I might try that.

I've just had an awful few days so I should try something easier to build up confidence but knowing how things have been that will go wrong too! But it's my birthday today and I've got bread and patisserie books, plus madeleine and savarin tins so something new to try. Thank you again for your response.
 
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Ah, thank you, that makes sense. So even though I didn't see any butter come through the dough when rolling, it's obviously separated. Butter then maybe need to be slightly warner. I've seen someone suggest combining a little bit of the flour in with the butter initially, just to make it more malleable for rolling so I might try that.

I've just had an awful few days so I should try something easier to build up confidence but knowing how things have been that will go wrong too! But it's my birthday today and I've got bread and patisserie books, plus madeleine and savarin tins so something new to try. Thank you again for your response.
Happy Birthday.

Well I hope you’re not discouraged. Even experienced pastry chefs have to be trained and practice.

Tips when you decide to give it another go:


When making your butter block, it’s important to beat the butter. This will help keep the butter pliable even after it is chilled.

Some pastry chefs whip butter in the mixer with the paddle attachment for a couple of minutes, then weigh out the amount they need.

Others will beat the butter with a rolling pin between sheets of parchment paper than form the butter block.

I’ve used both methods, it doesn’t matter as long as the butter is sufficiently whipped or beaten to soften. Use a bench scraper to scrap together and form into a square or rectangle butter block in desired dimensions.

Yes, adding flour to the butter is another method. As I mentioned in my first comment you can add between 5%-10% flour to the butter.

So if you’re using 240 g butter, multiply by .05 (.06, .07, .08, .09, or .10) to calculate the grams of flour to add to the butter.

Butter is tempered during manufacturing. The tempering determines how pliable the butter is when cold. Tempering is a proprietary process, so the brand of butter really makes a difference. In the US the brand butter I find that works best is Kerrygold, an Irish brand. Even cold this butter stays very pliable.
 
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Thank you. I did the whole rolling pin and parchment thing with the butter but I'll try mixing a little flour. I'm in the UK so Kerrygold is widely available and I'll give that a go next time.

I've just turned out what seems to be a very nice chocolate, banana and pecan cake in my new savarin mould so it's given me my confidence back a little. If I couldn't manage a cake I think I'd have thrown in the towel! Going to leave pastry for a bit and try hot cross buns tomorrow, maybe with tangzhong. We'll see.
 
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Thank you. I did the whole rolling pin and parchment thing with the butter but I'll try mixing a little flour. I'm in the UK so Kerrygold is widely available and I'll give that a go next time.

I've just turned out what seems to be a very nice chocolate, banana and pecan cake in my new savarin mould so it's given me my confidence back a little. If I couldn't manage a cake I think I'd have thrown in the towel! Going to leave pastry for a bit and try hot cross buns tomorrow, maybe with tangzhong. We'll see.

The cake sounds delicious. If you want to understand the science of baking and understand how it’s taught professionally, I would recommend Michel Suas’ textbook. It’s not cheap because it is a textbook. Suas is French, but lives in the US. He runs the San Francisco Baking Institute. Anyone who is anybody in baking has turned to Suas for help in opening their bakeries, his list of clients reads like the Who’s Who of the cooking and baking world. Every bakery from Bouchon, Acme, to Tartine in the US has been helped by Suas. He is also a James Beard Award winning bakery owner himself.

But his book is considered the best and most comprehensive book on baking. But it is written for professionals, so not your recipe book. They sell it in the UK because it is used there in culinary schools as well. Blackwells is a legit bookseller. I live in the US, but have ordered from Balckwells.

 
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Thank you, that's a great recommendation. My mother-in-law got me the Elizabeth David book for Christmas but it's not an easy read! I don't mind it not being a recipe book - I'd rather understand the science so I can judge recipes myself. I've got the hang of bakers ratios and that makes a lot of sense to me. I've already learnt a lot from the Richard Bertinet book, 'Crumb".

I made hot cross buns yesterday from an internet recipe and I should have known better as I tend to avoid internet recipes as I think there's more of a guarantee that recipes in published books have been tested properly. But it called for 700g dried fruit to 800g flour and I just thought 'that's not right' but didn't have the confidence in the science to stick to my convictions. I only put 600g in but it was still FAR too much, plus there were various other things about the recipe that weren't right. But I don't feel as despondent about them because, whilst I'm sure there were things I could have done better (though I did tangzhong and it seems to have worked beautifully), I know that most of what could be improved was just down to the recipe. If I have a better understanding of the science, that hopefully won't happen. Maybe I'll leave pastry and focus on bread for a bit. It makes sense as my little girl is allergic to dairy and soya and it's very hard to buy bread over here that hasn't got soya in.

Thanks again so much for your advice.

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Thank you, that's a great recommendation. My mother-in-law got me the Elizabeth David book for Christmas but it's not an easy read! I don't mind it not being a recipe book - I'd rather understand the science so I can judge recipes myself. I've got the hang of bakers ratios and that makes a lot of sense to me. I've already learnt a lot from the Richard Bertinet book, 'Crumb".

I made hot cross buns yesterday from an internet recipe and I should have known better as I tend to avoid internet recipes as I think there's more of a guarantee that recipes in published books have been tested properly. But it called for 700g dried fruit to 800g flour and I just thought 'that's not right' but didn't have the confidence in the science to stick to my convictions. I only put 600g in but it was still FAR too much, plus there were various other things about the recipe that weren't right. But I don't feel as despondent about them because, whilst I'm sure there were things I could have done better (though I did tangzhong and it seems to have worked beautifully), I know that most of what could be improved was just down to the recipe. If I have a better understanding of the science, that hopefully won't happen. Maybe I'll leave pastry and focus on bread for a bit. It makes sense as my little girl is allergic to dairy and soya and it's very hard to buy bread over here that hasn't got soya in.

Thanks again so much for your advice.

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I think your hot cross-buns have a really nice crumb. I really love tangzhong method for certain types of rolls and buns. It really creates a light airy texture that is perfect for sweet rolls. I don’t use it for bread because my concept of bread is crusty, chewy and more hearty.

Your instincts to be wary of internet recipes is good. A lot of bakers don’t realize the variables that come into play when you change product brands. Who wrote the recipe and where is a major factor.

For instance in the UK the domestic wheat is naturally very low in protein about 9%. You cannot bake bread milled with the domestic wheat. But the domestic wheat in England makes a very lovely cake because it is so low in protein. The low protein at 9% is comparable to pastry flour in the US and Canada.

The wheat that is cultivated in England for bread is actually non-native varieties that are imported, mainly from Canada and Australia. The wheat from these two countries is naturally very high in protein.

In Canada all purpose flour has a protein content at about 13%. That is equivalent to strong bread flour in the UK. Canadian flour makes great bread, but does not make great cake because the protein content is so high.

The US has two types of of all purpose flour: bleached and unbleached. Protein content varies between 10% - 11.7%. A lot of American bakers who post online use bleached flour. Bleached flour absorbs moisture very differently from unbleached flour and rises significantly better. Bleached flour is not available in the UK and European Union.

When using a recipe from the Internet, country of origin matters because the all purpose flour the recipe developer used in Canada and the US will have a completely different absorption rate, and the rise from the plain flour in the UK. The results will not be the same.
There are also significant differences in sugar (cane vs sugar beet sugar). Sugar beet sugar is highly inferior as it will not caramelize properly in baking. And the differences in dairy products, especially the quality of butter varies by country. American butter is pure crap (flavorless and contains a lot more water than European butters).

When recipes fails it one of two reasons: 1) the recipe developer failed to provide the brand of ingredients and/or specifications of those ingredients; 2) the baker totally disregarded ingredient specifications and/or instructions.

If you understand baker’s percentages, when you will be able to understand Suas’ book. Suas’ book has a lot of formulas, it just doesn’t have recipes. It includes formulas for everything from bread, enriched doughs, viennoiserie, pastry, confectionary. It’s over 1000 pages—its a tome! It is one of two books that I consistently refer back to all the time.


===========================================================================

Just for clarification for those reading this who do not understand the difference between a recipe and formula.

A recipe is a list of pre-measured amounts of ingredients, followed by detailed instructions for using those set pre-measured amounts ingredients.

A cookbook or recipe book is a collection of such recipes. Professional bakers do not use recipes.

Professional bakers use formulas.


A formula is an established percentages of specific ingredients, the percentages of which have been calculated against the weight of the flour.


The percentages are referred to as baker’s percentages. By maintaining the exact percentages of ingredients to the flour, no matter how large or small the batch, the baker is able to maintain consistency in batches of batter/dough. This allows the baker to adjust production throughout the week to meet changes in daily demand without compromising the quality of the products.


A percentage is number expressed as a fraction of 100. In baker’s percentages, the flour is always 100%. All other ingredients are weighed against the flour. An ingredient may be more than the 100% flour. For example, sugar is normally equal or slightly more than flour in a chocolate chip cookie. It is common for flour to be 100% and sugar to be 110%.


The Suas’ textbook is divided into major categories of bread, pastry, and confectionary. Within those sections are chapters; chapters outline a number of learning objectives. Each objective is covered in the chapter, followed by a chapter summary, key terms, and questions the reader should be able to answer. At the back of each section are professional formulas. They are for commercial production, but include a test batch, which is a single cake, batch of cookies, or a couple of loaves.

Anyone who is interested in Suas textbook needs to understand it is not a cookbook/recipebook. It is not written for the home baker as it does not have the pre-measured recipes or detailed instructions of a recipe.
 
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That's brilliant, thank you. I was very proud of myself working out the hydration of the original and then how to increase it for tangzhong! I, too, wouldn't use it for bread but no one wants a crusty hot cross bun! :D That's very interesting about flour - I knew there was variation but not quite that much. I've got Canadian bread flour, which really makes a difference.

I think formulas would be better for me as I get distracted by lots of interesting recipes like a kid in a sweet shop and should probably just focus on the basics then in time I'll know what will work in a recipe and what won't.
 
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That's brilliant, thank you. I was very proud of myself working out the hydration of the original and then how to increase it for tangzhong! I, too, wouldn't use it for bread but no one wants a crusty hot cross bun! :D That's very interesting about flour - I knew there was variation but not quite that much. I've got Canadian bread flour, which really makes a difference.

I think formulas would be better for me as I get distracted by lots of interesting recipes like a kid in a sweet shop and should probably just focus on the basics then in time I'll know what will work in a recipe and what won't.

Lol, sounds like you have a serious case of baking addiction. Welcome to the club.


Being able to make the calculations for your formulas is half the battle. The next step is to start learning about DDT and monitoring your fermentation temperatures. Humidity is important too, but difficult to control without a proofer.

You are doing great. And you are taking on some challenging baking projects, which is good. Most bakers won’t even try to calculate the hydration for adding tangzhong to a dough. Willingness to try to figure it out, to experiment and learn is how you gain better understanding of the process.

Don’t feel bad about failures. I always say failures are my greatest teacher.

I still make errors in the kitchen. Last week I baked biscotti. When I added the eggs, I knew there was too much fat in the bowl. I even took the bowl off the mixer stand to take a closer look. But I am a stickler for mise en place. I double check the weight when I prepare my ingredients tray. I should have trusted my eyes. Instead, I trusted the fact that I double check the weight as I prepare my trays.

When the dough was finished, I knew looking at it there was more volume than there should be for a batch. And I was baffled. I always weigh my finished batches, then divide my portions by weight. Sure enough, it was 54g heavier than it should have been. When I saw that I knew exactly what I did. When I was cutting and weighing butter, I placed the bowl of butter for the pie dough on the biscotti tray and vise versa. Too much butter in the biscotti meant over baking the biscotti to dry it out. Ruined a batch of 30 biscotti.

If I had weighed the butter and eggs when I noticed it was not right, I would have realized my mistake right then. I could have recalculated the batch with the additional 54g butter and saved the batch. My bad for not trusting my eyes.

I have no shame in admitting my kitchen and a spare bedroom is busting at the seams with bakery equipment. I normally stock so many types of flours and supplies there is nothing I cannot bake on short notice. The pandemic has made it very difficult to get supplies, even from the bakery supply store. I ordered 40 lbs of flour a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, it took over 3 weeks for them to even get to my order. I will be glad when things are back to normal.
 
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I joined this forum just to say thank you to @Norcalbaker59 for all their amazing responses on the puff pastry threads I am checking out. This is only my 3rd try and it’s not great, but all this info will totally help with try #4. My biggest problem is the butter lumps. Now I understand that the dough is fusing around them and that’s why I got more like chocolate filled rolls than pain au chocolat. This batch will probably be about the same, but hey, still tasty. And next time I’m going to be more aware of my butter pliability. Also I understand now why chilling the 30 min and then letting the butter warm up a bit is better (because gluten needs to relax) than just not chilling as much. Thank you so much!!
 
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Ah, thank you, that makes sense. So even though I didn't see any butter come through the dough when rolling, it's obviously separated. Butter then maybe need to be slightly warner. I've seen someone suggest combining a little bit of the flour in with the butter initially, just to make it more malleable for rolling so I might try that.

I've just had an awful few days so I should try something easier to build up confidence but knowing how things have been that will go wrong too! But it's my birthday today and I've got bread and patisserie books, plus madeleine and savarin tins so something new to try. Thank you again for your response.
i missed this post! Happy - very very belated birthday Emmie! <3
 
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I joined this forum just to say thank you to @Norcalbaker59 for all their amazing responses on the puff pastry threads I am checking out. This is only my 3rd try and it’s not great, but all this info will totally help with try #4. My biggest problem is the butter lumps. Now I understand that the dough is fusing around them and that’s why I got more like chocolate filled rolls than pain au chocolat. This batch will probably be about the same, but hey, still tasty. And next time I’m going to be more aware of my butter pliability. Also I understand now why chilling the 30 min and then letting the butter warm up a bit is better (because gluten needs to relax) than just not chilling as much. Thank you so much!!
You are welcome. I am glad that you have stuck with it. Laminated dough is daunting. I baked for years and avoid it like the plague. It’s really intimidating. When I finally got the courage up I did it in the privacy of my home because I was afraid of the failure. I admit it took a number of tries before I produced even a decent laminated dough. With each batch you’ll see improvement and when you finally produce a beautiful croissant the sense of accomplishment is absolutely the best feeling you’ll have as a baker... it’s like scaling the Everest of baking I swear:D
 
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I've searched on the internet for this answer but can't find anything much and not anything that seems right.

I've tried making puff pastry a couple of times but when I put it in the oven the butter just forms a sizzling puddle on the baking tray creating a bottom to my pastry that's greasy and looks deep fried.

I followed two different recipes (Paul Hollywood and Lorraine Pascale) and followed them exactly. I was really happy with how the dough looked, no butter seeped through on rolling and it was well-chilled at each stage. I put it in a hot oven - my oven runs a bit cold so I have thermometer in there and it was 180C Fan, though I heated it to 200C Fan and turned it down once the pastry was in so I didn't lose heat on opening the oven. But within 5 minutes I had a pool of sizzling butter. I took a photo of some offcuts I put in, just in case the filling (apple turnovers) was having an effect but the same thing happened. I got a reasonable rise and some nice lamination from the turnovers and cheese straws I did but I found them too greasy to eat.

I just don't know why it's happening and I've had two days where everything I've made has gone wrong - puff, choux, Italian meringue buttercream, poppyseed shortcrust - I mean, SHORTCRUST! It's been a disaster and I'm feeling I've lost my mojo, made worse by my husband (a non-baker) just bringing in the most delicious jam tarts I've ever tasted that he's knocked up in half an hour whilst cooking me dinner.

View attachment 3519

The recipe is out of balance, the Lorraine Pascale recipe is too fatty .
9 oz flour vs 9 oz butter. Even with the 50% cake flour the dough can't hold that much butter so its melting out.
Dial the butter down a bit.
Try 6 oz butter total.
 
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