Puff vs. Rough: Exploring 18th Century Puff Pastry


The Accomplish’d Housewife; or, the Gentlewoman’s Companion, 1745

Puff Paste, or pastry as we know it today, can be found in literally hundreds of published and non-published cookery books during the 18th century. Though the proportion of butter and eggs differ, what does not is the technique of working the butter into the dough to produce butter filled layers of dough that will crisp when baked.

So what the difference between a puff pastry and a rough puff? Rough puff is a modern short-cut method of cutting the butter into the flour to form a lump of dough full of butter chunks. This mass is then rolled out and folded in a series of turns, just like a puff. But a true puff will have a small addition of butter to the dough, not all at once.  A dough must be made from flour, water and usually eggs, and then one must roll out the dough into a rectangle, placing bits of butter over the surface, then folding the dough over itself, before rolling out again and repeating with addition of the butter,  at least three turns, though some recipes say as many as 10.

Modern puff pastry recipes are essentially the same thing, with the exception that they require you refrigerate your dough in between rolling and folding to allow the pastry to rest and for the butter to solidify. In the 18th century this is not obviously done as there are no modern refrigerators as we know them today.  What the 18th century cook would know is that you should never make puff when the ambient temperature is over 65 degrees Fahrenheit, nor, as we found out last week, under 35.

Please check out our recipe for Puff Pastry 101 and enjoy!


The Country Housewife and Lady’s Director, by Richard Bradley 176



« Back to recipe browser

3 Responses to “Puff vs. Rough: Exploring 18th Century Puff Pastry”

  1. May 14th, 2018

    Karie Diethorn says:

    Hi. I’m interested in the rolling pins you all use at CWF. Are they available commercially? Thanks.

    • May 15th, 2018

      kcosta says:

      Hi Karie- the rolling pins we use in our kitchens are commonly referred to as French pins today, meaning they do not have handles. They allow one to control the pressure and ‘feel’ the dough when working with it. They are available for purchase in our stores, or on line. Thanks for asking!

Leave a Reply