I always have a roll of block of pastry in the fridge (or freezer) just in case I need to make last minute mains or puddings. It’s quick and easy to use, and so versatile. Here’s my tips on what to do with puff pastry – both recipe ideas and general tips on using pastry
I prefer to use puff pastry hence why I use ready made. But even shortcrust I’ll usually use the convenient options. Although my son will make pastry from scratch when he’s doing mince pies. Alternatively, you can use a shortcrust pastry dry mix which will work out cheaper than the ready to use pastry.
Tips for using pastry
- Buy chilled for speed. Frozen is great too, just allow for the defrosting time. You’ll need to take chilled pastry out of the fridge to get it to nearer room temperature before you can use it. But don’t leave it too long otherwise it gets too sticky
- Shortcrust works better for some dishes, but puff pastry feels a bit lighter to eat so is a good option for less stodginess.
- Watch the use by date. If it’s near data and you’re not using the pastry soon, freeze it to avoid it going mouldy or tasting off.
- There’s very little difference in using a lighter pastry version than the full fat. Noone in our house has ever complained if I switch between the two.
- Get new ideas for recipes from the side of the pastry box or wrapper.
- Love 180C (or 160C fan). Yes, generally that temperature works for cooking pastry dishes. You can easily adapt the amount of pastry you use depending on your family’s size or needs. Leftovers work ok, depending on what you’ve cooked.
Now onto the quick pastry recipe ideas.
Most of these ideas are based on one pack of puff pastry (around 300g), or half that if stated. You can easily change this by adding an extra pack if you’re cooking for more people. Just keep a watch on timings, as more may take longer to cook (and switch shelves halfway if you’ve got 2 dishes cooking on different oven shelves). Some are better with shortcrust, so use whichever you prefer, just check the cooking instructions on the pack and adapt your recipe.
What to do with puff pastry
Sausage rolls – finely dice red onion, fry gently til cooked through, mix with sausagemeat and sage. Put rolls of sausagemeat mix on the pastry, fold the pastry over, seal the pastry edge with fork decoration, brush on a little beaten egg or milk. Slash the top then bake until the sausagemeat is cooked through and pastry crispy.
Sausage plait – make one large sausage plait, you may want to add some breadcrumbs, finely grated parmesan, to soak up some of the fat as it cooks. Then plait the pastry over the roll of sausagemeat before cooking.
Mozzarella rolls or balls – squares of puff pastry, spread on some pesto leave a plain edge. Add mozzarella pearls in the middle, or fingers of cut mozzarella. Fold the pastry over to cover the cheese and seal. Bake according to pastry instructions. Change the pesto up for sweet chilli or cranberry sauce according to taste)
Salmon en croute – remove the skin from the salmon, place onto rolled out puff pastry. Spread over some passata or tomato & basil sauce, or pesto on the salmon. Season with pepper. You can also add a layer of cream cheese too if wanted. Encase the salmon folding over the pastry and seal, then bake for 30 mins. They will puff out huge, so don’t make them too large unless you’re really hungry.
Inside out chicken pie (or beef) – make your pie filling (brown the meat and cook through or use leftover roast meat, coat with plain flour, add stock, seasoning, herbs and other veg. Then cook in casserole dish/or slow cooker til tender. If using leftovers, just need to make sure the veg are mostly cooked. Roll out the pastry in a lightly greased pie dish, fork the base to stop it rising too much. Bake the pastry case til golden brown and cooked through. Top with the pie filling and serve.
Pastry Pizzas – roll out puff pastry and chop into squares or leave as a whole one. Spread on a layer of tomato and basil pasta sauce or passata. Top with pizza toppings of choice, and grated cheese. Bake til pastry is cooked through on the base. You could also fold the pastry over or do a base and lid to encase the pizza fillings like pizza bakes.
Savoury tart – add whatever toppings to your pastry base with a sauce base. Blanch veg first if putting on veg like asparagus or broccoli. Season, add herbs if required, then bake to make a savoury tart..
Cheese straws – roll out, sprinkle grated cheese over and press in slightly. Cut into strips, twist or leave flat, then bake for 10-15 mins.
Sesame strips – do the same as with cheese straws, but sprinkle sesame seeds over.
Pesto swirls – roll out the pastry, spread over pesto, roll up along the long horizontal edge, cut into slices, then bake for around 15-20 mins.
If you’re using fruit and want extra sweetness, don’t forget to add some sugar.
Rustic pie (or Galette if you’re going french) – roll out pastry, place fruit inside the centre (stewed apple, diced pear, or defrosted frozen fruit mix), sprinkle over some sugar if needed, curl the pastry edges over the fruit to hold it in place like a shallow bowl. Bake for around 30 mins, serve with ice cream or cream
Pastry bowls – cut large circles of pastry so they’ll fit over an upturned bowl (you may need more than one piece of pastry). Upturn ovenproof bowls (e.g pyrex). Put the pastry over the bowl then bake til golden brown and til it holds its shape. Make your filling – stewed fruit and yoghurt or ice cream would be delicious, and add to the pastry bowls.
Fruit puffs – encase fruit in individual sized squares or circles pastry, add the lid and seal to make little pies. Apple sauce is easy (try it with a little rosemary and mixed spice), but any fruit of choice. Bake til golden and crispy.
Chocolate swirls or puffs – use croissant dough or puff pastry. Use a hazelnut spread like nutella and make mini pies or swirls twisting strips once you’ve spread the chocolate on. Add marshmallows to make them like smores.
Sweet tarts – sweet versions of the savoury tart. Spread the sauce on the base – mascarpone, cream cheese, nutella as required. Cover with sliced fruit, then bake. Try pear and almond (thin layer of marzipan or almond paste), nectarine and blueberry (with mascarpone), apple or rhubarb (custard), or kids party – mascarpone or nutella, fruit salad, and top with mini marshmallows. One of my favourites is pear and chocolate tart.
Apple and cinnamon swirls – like pesto swirls but spread apple sauce, sprinkled with cinnamon.
Cheat’s custard tarts – cut out circles, put each pastry disc in a lightly greased cupcake tin hole. Prick with a fork on the base, bake for 5 mins to get the cooking started. Spoon in some custard – thick rather than thin. Bake until pastry is golden brown and cooked through.
Jam tarts – great for offcuts, you can use shortcrust too. Start the bases off then add the jam or fruit curd and bake. Watch out for burning yourself on the hot jam!
Mince pies – cut out circle for the base, blind bake for 5 mins in cupcake tins, then fill with mincemeat. Top with a smaller circle and crimp closed with a little milk or egg wash. Or I like to top with a pastry star. These are usually done with shortcrust, but puff is fine for a different take.
Syrupy pastry roll – on rolled out pastry, drizzle over golden syrup leaving an inch border at one short end. Roll up from the short end and place in a greased baking dish. Pour 150 ml of milk (full fat or semi skimmed) around the pastry. Bake for 30 mins at 180C until cooked. The milk should turn into a kind of toffee flavoured sauce. Leave for 5 mins then serve with ice cream or cream. (this is my go to last minute dessert!). I use puff pastry for this, but shortcrust works well too.
2 ingredient donuts – use croissant dough rather than puff pastry. Unroll the dough, cut out circles. Heat a couple of cm of vegetable oil in a frying pan til a small bit of dough dropped in crisps fast. Add the circles of dough in batches, let them go golden and puffed up on the bottom then flip and cook the other side. Remove, drain on a kitchen towel then cool. Once cool, fill using a syringe or small piping bag. I used apple sauce, but try jam or custard. They’re hard to fill, but so tasty and only 2 ingredients. Or you could just dip the the donuts in melted chocolate to eat.
As for leftover pastry scraps. Use them up.
Put them on a baking tray, either whole or cut into shapes or strips, and bake according to instructions – they’ll not take as long because they’re smaller pieces. Then eat them plain, or dip in flavoured cream cheese, slightly melted chocolate spread or whatever else you fancy.
What else do you use puff pastry for?