As puff pastry bakes, it achieves show-stopping height as the butter in the dough releases steam, elevating the dough to new heights. Because of its tender, flaky texture, puff pastry makes an impressive and elegant base for a variety of dishes, including decadent desserts. If you're fresh out of puff pastry, you can make several reasonably good substitutions that can achieve similar flakiness and height. Keep your recipe in mind when selecting a puff pastry substitute, since each substitute has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Refrigerated Croissant-Style Dinner Roll Dough
For recipes that call for that flaky, buttery quality that makes puff pastry so delectable, substitute a can of refrigerated croissant-style dinner roll dough. Once it's baked, the dough puffs up and gives you similar results. Top a wheel or wedge of Brie cheese with your favorite jam and wrap it with the croissant dough before baking it. Swap puff pastry for dinner roll dough to make flaky turnovers or sweet or savory palmiers. Just unroll the dough and fill it with your favorite ingredients before baking it to buttery perfection.
Phyllo dough is commonly available in the freezer section of grocery stores. These ultra-thin sheets are typically made of oil, flour and water. Recipes that use phyllo dough often call for each layer of dough to be brushed with melted butter before stacking the layers. This creates a puffed, buttery crust that is similar to puffed pastry, but a bit crisper. Although phyllo dough doesn’t work as a substitute for every recipe -- croissants or buttery, tender pastries, for example -- it works well as a substitute as a pie crust, strudel dough or tart shells.
Similar to refrigerated croissant-style dinner roll dough, biscuit dough can pull double duty as a flaky crust that can rival puff pastry's layered deliciousness. The key to making fluffy, layered biscuits is handling the dough strategically. While you're making the dough, use all cold ingredients and freeze your dough for roughly 15 minutes before rolling it out. After rolling the dough into a rectangle that's 1/4-inch thick, use a spatula or pastry scraper to fold the dough into thirds, refolding that into thirds and turning the dough 90 degrees before rolling it out again. Repeat the process one or two times to create a layered, flaky texture that duplicates puff pastry. Use the biscuit dough to top pot pies, bake turnovers or to create a flaky crust for tarts.
You'll never duplicate the height or flakiness of puff pastry with a piecrust, but you can give your homemade pie crust recipe a flakier finish by keeping the butter in larger pieces and using the "roll, fold, roll" technique used for making puff pastry. By rolling the dough about 1/4 inch thick before folding it and rolling it again, you create flaky, tender layers within the dough that will puff up while it cooks. Try using piecrust -- either premade or homemade -- in place of puff pastry to top top pot pies or to make tarts and turnovers.