• Chai-spiced custard tarts (Alan Benson)Source: Alan Benson

You can't go past the flavour of homemade all-butter puff pastry.






Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)

Also known as mille feuilles (meaning a ‘thousand layers’) in French, you’ll find that most commercial-made puff pastries use margarine and other vegetable fats, and because they have a higher melting point than butter they make the pastry rise more spectacularly. However, the flavour of a home-made version using good-quality unsalted butter you’ll find far outweighs this. 

Use to make these chai-spiced custard tarts.


  • 200 g unsalted butter, in one piece, softened slightly so it is firm but pliable
  • plain flour, to dust



  • 225 g (1½ cups) plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 25 g chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 100 ml (or 120 ml) chilled water

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Makes: 550 g

Chilling time: 1½ hours

  1. To make the dough, combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the 25 g diced butter to the flour. With your palms facing upwards, use your fingertips to rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Sprinkle 100 ml of the iced water over the flour mixture. Use a round-ended knife in a cutting motion to mix until evenly combined and the mixture starts holding together. Press a little of the mixture between your fingers – if it holds together easily, there is no need to add more water; if it doesn’t add a teaspoon of the remaining iced water at a time water and cut through again until it does. The pastry should be soft but not sticky, and will be ragged in texture.
  3. Bring the pastry together with your hands and transfer to a lightly floured, cool bench top. Lightly knead the pastry with your fingertips for about 20 seconds or until it comes together but isn’t completely smooth.
  4. Shape the dough into a rectangle, about 10 cm x 15 cm, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to rest and firm slightly.
  5. Place the 200 g piece butter between two pieces of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to pound and then roll to form a square, 15 cm x 15 cm and about 1 cm thick. Check that the butter is the same pliable consistency as the dough – if it looks oily, it is too soft and needs chilling for a little while for it to reach the same consistency.
  6. Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out the dough on a lightly floured bench top to a rectangle about 20 cm x 32 cm, always rolling away from you, turning after each roll, and keeping the edges as straight as possible. Place the butter over the top half of the pastry, leaving a border of about 2.5 cm. Fold the pastry edges up and over the butter, then fold the uncovered pastry over the butter to fully enclose.
  7. Use the rolling pin to gently tap the pastry widthways to form neat ridges. Roll out the pastry to a neat rectangle, about 16 cm x 36 cm, always rolling away from you and giving a half turn after each roll. Take care to keep the sides and ends straight, using a large palette knife to straighten them if necessary.
  8. Fold the bottom third of the pastry up, then the top third of the pastry down to fold it like a business letter. Turn the pastry anti-clockwise 90 degrees so that the folded edge is to your left. Use the rolling pin to gently tap the pastry widthways to form neat ridges again.
  9. Roll the pastry out again a neat rectangle, about 13 cm x 36 cm, always rolling away from you, giving a half turn after each roll and taking care to keep the edges straight. With the folded edge to your left, repeat the folding process (step 8) but do not tap to create the ridges. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
  10. Repeat this process (steps 7-9; rolling, folding and turning, then rolling and folding again) two more times making sure the folded edge is to your left every time you fold and chilling between each process. This will give a total of six rolls and folds.
  11. Wrap the pastry in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 2 days before using as directed.


Baker's tip

• To freeze, roll the puff pastry into a flat sheet about 8 mm thick. Cut into smaller portions or freeze whole on a tray lined with baking paper. Once frozen, wrap well in plastic wrap and then seal in an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw in the fridge.