Both puff pastry and Viennoiserie are types of famous French pastries known for their buttery texture. While they might seem closely related, they’re not as similar as they appear. Let’s find out why puff pastry isn’t exactly considered part of the Viennoiserie family.
Puff pastry isn't considered part of viennoiserie since it's not made using yeast-leavened dough. In viennoiserie, the dough rises due to yeast fermentation, while in laminated versions such as croissants, the rise is aided by the steam formed during baking. On the other hand, puff pastry doesn't depend on any chemical or biological rising agents; it simply puffs up as a result of steam.
Viennoiserie and Puff Pastry – Differences and Similarities
Puff pastry, also known as Pâte Feuilletée, and the yeast dough used for viennoiseries are foundational components of French cuisine.
Viennoiseries became popular in 19th century France, though the origins of yeast-based dough creations can be traced back to ancient civilizations. The technique of dough lamination, however, is a French invention that emerged in the 1600s.
Understanding the Viennoiserie Category
Viennoiserie refers to Viennese-style pastries, which is the general term for breakfast pastries made from yeast dough. These baked goods feature enriched dough that includes ingredients like sugar, milk, and butter, along with the addition of eggs. Since developing the gluten structure is essential for these doughs, they are made from higher protein bread flour.
Viennoiserie can be prepared using laminated dough, as seen in croissants, or non-laminated dough, such as brioche and kugelhopf.
Pastries made from non-laminated dough rise solely because of yeast activity. The butter is incorporated into their dough uniformly.
On the other hand, the foundation of a croissant is a laminated yeast dough, which not only undergoes fermentation but also expands due to the steam produced from the heat. This is how the distinctive honeycomb structure of the croissant develops.
This category also includes pastries created from croissant dough, such as Pain au Chocolat and Pain aux Raisins.
Understanding the Nature of Puff Pastry
Puff pastry is a versatile type of pastry known for its distinctive thin, flaky, and airy layers created through the laminating process. When baked, the dough layers expand due to the steam generated by the butter, resulting in a puffy and light interior.
Unlike Viennoiseries, puff pastry doesn’t include added leavening agents, sugar, milk, or eggs. The best choice for making it is all-purpose flour with lower protein content. Furthermore, it includes water, salt, and butter.
Its neutral flavor makes it versatile for both savory and sweet creations. Some of the most famous sweet pastries crafted using puff pastry are Mille-feuille, Tarte Tatin, Apple turnovers (Chaussons aux Pommes), palmiers, and Bichons filled with lemon pastry cream.
Some well-known savory dishes crafted from puff pastry include the meat-filled Pâté Lorrain and the cheesy Feuilletés au Munster.
Additional variations of puff pastry exist, like inverted and rough puff pastry, each differing in preparation technique from the traditional dough.
The Common Ingredient: Butter
The use of butter in viennoiserie and puff pastry is essential for creating the characteristic structure and buttery taste that define these pastries.
The Technique of Lamination
The lamination technique is a crucial step in the preparation of puff pastry, as well as croissant dough, which falls under the category of Viennoiseries.
There’s a distinction in the butter content between croissants and puff pastry. While croissants consist of 70% butter in relation to the flour quantity, puff pastry maintains an equal ratio of butter to flour.
The dough is rolled out, and a block of butter is placed encased in the dough. This package is then rolled out and folded multiple times to create layers.
The butter layers are critical to the puffing effect when baked. As the pastry bakes, the butter melts and releases steam, which causes the layers to separate and rise, creating the distinctive flaky texture of puff pastry and croissant dough.
High-quality butter with a high-fat content of 82-84% contributes to a richer taste and better layer separation. The laminating process requires precision to ensure even layering, and the temperature of the dough and butter needs to be carefully controlled to prevent the butter from melting during the process.
To sum it up, puff pastry and viennoiserie might seem similar with their buttery, flaky texture, but they’re not in the same category.
Puff pastry doesn’t use yeast for its rise; it is made with the technique of lamination and puffs up through steam alone. Viennoiserie, on the other hand, is made from yeasted dough and can be laminated like croissants or non-laminated, like brioche.