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Why Your Puff Pastry Didn’t Rise

Why Your Puff Pastry Didn’t Rise

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Sweet or savory, puff pastry can be used in a wide variety of recipes. Crisp and light, a puff pastry should rise to several times its thickness, resulting in many layers of flaky dough.

But as with practically anything in the kitchen, sometimes, things can go wrong. Either with how you make the pastry or during baking, your puff pastry ends up looking flat and sad.

That’s every baker’s nightmare, isn’t it?

So, let’s look at why your puff pastry didn’t rise and what you can do to make sure it puffs and bakes up perfectly next time.

What Makes Puff Pastry Rise?

But first, how does puff pastry rise so nicely in the first place? 

Well, plenty of factors contribute to how puff-up your pastry can be. But it’s mostly a combination of water, temperature, and the rolling and folding of your dough that makes it rise beautifully.

See, the butter in the dough makes your layers resistant to water. So, when baked, the heat will turn water into steam, which is then caught between the many layers forcing it to rise and lift.

Rolling and Folding

Folding Puff Pastry

When making your puff pastry, rolling the dough correctly is going to make all the difference in how much it rises.

First, when you start rolling butter into the pastry, both the dough and the butter need to be chilled to the same temperature. 

If the butter isn’t cold enough, it can melt into the dough, and the pastry won’t rise nicely when baked.

Second, avoid rolling over the edge of the dough. If you roll over the edge, the layers of dough on the sides will compress together, and the pastry won’t rise correctly.

And don’t use a serrated knife when cutting your dough! The serrations make uneven edges, making it extra difficult for the pastry to rise.

Cutting the Right Dough Thickness

The thickness of the dough also plays a role in getting puff pastry to rise. Rolled too thin, the dough will rise but not enough to get that lovely, crispy flake.

Cutting it too thick is no good, too. A thick dough will only weigh down your pastry, stopping the steam in the layers from rising, which makes a doughy treat no one wants.

As a general rule of thumb, depending on the recipe, try to get your pastry rolled to about a 1/4 to 1/3 inch in thickness.

Handling and Cooling

Puff Pastry And Rolling Pin

You need your dough and butter cold before stuffing them in the oven. So, work quickly and keep your warm hands off the pastry if you want it puffy.

Try to handle the dough as little as you can. The more you work with the dough the more gluten will build up, leading to a flat dough that won’t rise.

If you have a few pieces of pastry to prepare and get ready for baking, keep part of the dough in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Then switch, working with the new pieces of dough while chilling those that are ready for the oven.

Here’s a pro-baker tip:

To ensure your puff pastry gets a nice rise, chill the dough before baking. 

Once you’ve made your turnovers or puffs and have them on the baking sheet ready to go in the oven, put the pan in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Colder dough will rise more since it takes longer for the butter to melt in the oven. This technique also ensures that the pastry will keep its shape instead of leaning to one side if the butter melts too fast.

Baking at the Right Temperature

Adjusting The Oven Temperature

One of the most common reasons puff pastries refuse to rise is the baking temperature. So, make sure you get this part right.

Puff pastry must be baked in a hot oven between 375 and 400 degrees. This high heat is necessary to create enough steam to push the dough up.

What happens if the temperature is too low? Low oven temperatures can cause the puff pastry to fall flat and sink in on itself.

So, don’t be tempted to put the pan in the oven until it’s preheated and hot at the right temperature.

As soon as the dough hits the oven the fat in the butter needs to conduct the heat so that the moisture within the dough turns to steam, puffing up the layers of dough.

Tips For Baking the Perfect Puff Pastry 

Are you having a hard time baking your favorite puffy treat? Follow these practical tips to make the perfect puff pastry:

Thawing Frozen Puff Pastry

Whether you’ve made your puff pastry from scratch or purchased it from the store, be sure to thaw it properly before you bake it.

Unfolding the dough without allowing it to thaw makes it more likely to crack while baking. It could be the reason why your pastry puffs aren’t rising in the first place!

Let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before working. I, for one, pull the puff pastry out of the freezer the night before and place it into the fridge to thaw slowly.

Leaving the Pastry at Room Temperature

Never leave your dough at room temperature for longer than 30 minutes. You need your pastry thawed. However, exposing it for more than needed can melt the butter.

Let me tell you, melted butter is a nightmare to work with. It’s sticky, and the puff pastry that comes out of the oven may not look like it at all!

So, always mind the time when working with puff pastry. If the dough you’re working with gets too soft, don’t hesitate to pop it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before baking.

Rotating During Baking

Even if your oven has no cold or hot spots, I’d still recommend rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. This reduces the risk of your pastry from rising unevenly.

Remember, even a perfectly calibrated oven can have uneven temperature spots. So, if you’ve followed all the steps perfectly but still end up with flat pastries, this might be your culprit.

Flouring Your Work Surface

Some dough can be sticky to work with, making rolling and handling cumbersome. Sprinkling some flour on your work surface can help you work faster. 

The faster you can work, the less likely you are to backtrack after each step from a melting dough!

Handle your puff pastry like any other dough that needs rolling and shaping. A pinch of flour on the table might be the key to serving your guests the puffiest pastry imaginable!

Final Thoughts

There you have it. Those are the reasons why your puff pastry looks dull and flat. The rolling, handling, cutting, cooling, and baking temperatures are the most likely culprits.

That said, knowing what to watch out for should make baking puff pastries easier. Follow these tips, and enjoy the crispy, crackly layers of goodness with your family and friends!

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Friday 25th of March 2022

U said we shld put pastry in a vry hot oven.. I did the same.. But my pastry burned from outside and not cooked inside can u plz help me out wht shld i do?


Wednesday 1st of June 2022

@Nina, Hi! Maybe raise the pastry to a higher level in the oven! I use a propane oven, just a bit bigger than an RV oven, to bake. After burning countless items, I realized I should just move the rack to a higher level. It works perfectly


Friday 17th of December 2021

My husband made his first batch of danish pastry. It didn't rise like it should have when resting then when baking is wasn't as flaky as it should be (however it did taste good). Reading this article affirms what I thought about the dough, it was too thick and he rolled the edges. I'm sharing your information with him and we'll see how he does on the next batch. I'm his official taste tester. :)


Monday 6th of December 2021

Love your comprehensive list of things to watch out for. Thank you so much!


Thursday 13th of May 2021

I have made my own puff pastry and I don’t think I rolled it out thin enough as the first few apple turnovers the dough was cooked The turnovers are already made and I. The fridge, is there anything I. Terms of temperature or cooking time that will help them rise and cook the pastry or is it a total loss. I baked the first test pieces at 180C X 20 minutes


Thursday 13th of May 2021

Sorry that first comment was to say the dough/pastry did NOT cook

Martin Ratlhogo

Thursday 15th of October 2020

I am concerned about the puff pastry on folding.How many times must you fold the dough and which side.