Gluten-free rough puff pastry (with dairy-free & vegan variation)

Freshly baked gluten-free vol au vent cases. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

One of the foodie joys I miss most by not eating wheat is the crisp, golden, flaky, melt-in-the-mouth bite of real puff pastry. Whilst I’m not about to claim that the following recipe comes close to the original, it does make a crisp, flavoursome alternative that makes a crunchy base for a tart or a handsome topping for a pie. It’s good with sweet or savoury flavours. I use half white vegetable fat and half butter for my taste, but you can substitute the butter for a vegetable based block margarine if you’re dairy free or vegan – butter or margarine adds colour as well as flavour so using all white fat will give a different result. Tapioca flour is often part of a gluten-free blend but adding a little extra to the mix helps give a more stretchy texture to the dough which helps in the layering process.

I remember that rough puff pastry was one of the first “fancy” pastries I made at school, and I’ve been making it ever since. A favourite because it starts off as one hell of a messy mixture, but by the end of all the rolling and folding, you end up with a silky smooth, perfect block of pastry. Even with wheat flour, the rise isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot easier to work the fat into gluten-free flour using the “rough puff” method than with any other method I have tried. It does take a bit of time, but if you fancy the challenge, why not give it a go?

Makes: approx. 550g

  • 65g cornflour
  • 65g tapioca flour
  • 120g gluten-free plain flour blend + extra for dusting (I use Dove’s Farm)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 75g unsalted butter or non-dairy, vegetable margarine, chilled
  • 75g white vegetable fat (I use Trex), chilled
  • 150ml cold water
  1. Put the 3 flours in a large mixing bowl with the salt and mix together until well blended.
  2. Cut the butter or margarine and white vegetable fat into small pieces and stir into the flour, coating each piece of fat in flour.
  3. Gradually stir in the water until the mixture comes together to make a soft, very lumpy  dough.Then turn turn out on to a lightly floured work surface and work the dough into a flat, roughly rectangular, shape.
    Step 1: making the pastry dough. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

    Step 2: rolling and folding the pastry dough. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  4. Now the rolling and folding begins. The aim is to consistently roll out the pastry to the same dimensions, and then to fold it, turn it and seal it in the same way each time; this is how the pastry layers get constructed. My rolling pin is 35cm long and is the perfect length guide for rolling out the pastry to consistently the same length. Roll out the pastry to approximately this length, with a width about 12cm.
  5. Fold the top one third of the pastry down and the bottom one third up and over the top pastry; twist the pastry round so that the open edge is facing to the right, and gently press the 3 open edges of the pastry together with the rolling pin (see middle image of slide below).
  6. Repeat this rolling, folding, turning and sealing 3 more times and then chill the pastry for 30 minutes. The mixture will be very sticky but try to refrain from dusting with too much flour as this will dry the texture of the pastry.
  7. After the chill time, repeat the rolling, folding, turning and sealing another 3 times, working the pastry each time in the same direction. You should now begin to feel that the fat is more blended into the flour. Chill the pastry for a further 30 minutes.
  8. Now you’re on the home-stretch. Repeat the process 3 more times and you should see that the fat pieces have practically disappeared. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour before using. From start to finish, you should aim to roll and fold the pastry 10 times.
    Progression of the dough, from the rough to the smooth. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

    Unless I have lots of baking to do, I usually cut the pastry in half or quarters and wrap for freezing. It cooks perfectly after freezing and means that you have a back up supply for future use. You’re now ready to use the pastry as per your recipe.

    Homemade gluten-free rough puff pastry. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

You will need to dust the work surface with extra gluten-free flour and put some on your rolling pin too. It is tricky to roll the pastry very thinly, so I usually stop trying at 1/2 cm. For thicker crusts (like vol-au-vents), 1cm gives a good rise. When rolling up, say for palmiers or arlette, you will notice the pastry cracks quite easily. After chilling and wrapping the roll in baking parchment, it is possible to smooth out some of the cracks before slicing and baking – recipes to follow in future posts.

I usually bake the pastry at 200°C (180°C fan oven, gas mark 6), and most things benefit with a light protein-based glaze (milk or egg depending on your diet). I have found that exposed edges of the pastry do bake quite hard after cooking, so if you’re making a turnover or roll, you may want to wrap the pastry round the filling entirely so that the pastry forms a seam rather than a flat, sealed edge.

The finished result is crisp and flaky, with good flavour, and if you do the rolling and folding correctly, you should get plenty of layers.

Crisp, baked gluten-free pastry. Image: Kathryn Hawkins



14 thoughts on “Gluten-free rough puff pastry (with dairy-free & vegan variation)

  1. I like the valuable information you supply for your articles.
    I will bookmark your weblog and take a look at again right here regularly.
    I am somewhat sure I’ll learn many new stuff right right here!
    Good luck for the next!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe that tapioca comes from cassava – it is pure cassava starch. Cassava flour is usually made by grinding up the peeled and dried whole root and would therefore be less starchy. Hope that helps. Both I find are quite difficult to get hold of unless you visit a specialist wholefood shop or perhaps an African/West Indian food specialist. Good luck 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Kathryn, I hope life is treating you well 🙂
    My parents have just given me 600g of fresh rhubarb stems, and now when I think rhubarb I think Kathryn in Scotland — amazing, isn’t it 😋? So this isn’t how I ended up back on this post about making GF puff pastry. I myself have tried several times, with varying results. I used ghee butter (instead of regular, for my husband’s dietary needs) one time but found it to taste too strong, not to mention the fact that it is extravagantly expensive. Another time I used margarine but that was too soft, and the dough wound up too smooth to create flakes when baking. I also tried putting margarine bits in the freezer before adding them to the flour… not an easy process. As I am writing this I can’t help but think of myself as Goldilocks trying out different bowls of soup “too hot”, “too cold”… When will I get it “just right”???
    Bottom line: making gluten-free puff pastry is not a piece of cake — pun intended! But yours looks so nice it makes me want to try again, following it as closely as my local gluten-free ingredients will allow me. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to hear from you. I’m well thanks. We’re all experiencing the heat here in the UK at the moment, and am spending a lot of time watering to keep everything going! I agree about making puff pastry. It does take a while and can’t be rushed. You do need to use a hard fat as well in order to prevent the fat blending in too much and thus, not creating layers. We have a hard white vegetable fat called Trex which is very good for this. It doesn’t have the flavour but does make a good pastry. Enjoy your rhubarb an thanks for the thought 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Kathryn, I’m keen to try your GF puff pastry recipe, the finished product looks great. I struggle with the texture of most baked goods that use GF flours, they are often dry and powdery, so I choose to go without rather than compromise.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Sandra. Thanks for your comment. I hope you enjoy the pastry. I completely understand your comment about “going without”, but hopefully you’ll like the texture of this pastry – it is crisp with a light flake. I see that you have recipes using spelt. I use this occasionally and find it works well in soft textured bakes like sponges and brownies. I tried this pastry recipe with it too, but the result was very disappointing. I look forward to reading your posts. Kind regards. Kathryn 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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