The Chinese Flaky Pastry Dough 油酥皮, also known as Huaiyang Flaky Pastry Dough 淮揚酥皮, creates a layered pastry that is similar and yet not similar to the western style of layered pastry like the kind achieved in the croissant. The western layered pastry is usually constructed with butter while the Chinese layered pastry is constructed with lard or shortening. The western style achieves beautiful firm layering, chewy bite and a crispy golden surface. Yum, amiright? But the Chinese Huaiyang Flaky Pastry Dough 淮揚酥皮 achieves another kind pastry heaven, a delicate tender, flaky, white pastry skin that practically melts in your mouth!
A finished Chinese pastry is shown above, the flaky pastry wrapped about a filling and baked. You can see the flake running along the top of the pastry. This flaky pastry is so tender that just touching the pastry a bit too roughly will make it flake and collapse!
This post is about how to make this Chinese flaky pastry dough. The filling and wrapping of the pastry is explained in our post on Chinese Flaky Pastry with Lotus Seed Paste 白蓮蓉酥餅.
The secret to the delicate layering of this Huaiyang pastry dough is in the two separate doughs that are used. One is a 'water dough' 油皮 using medium gluten flour, the other an 'oil dough' 油酥 using lower gluten flour. These two types of dough come together to create the lamination or layers.
For both the doughs the first step is the same. The lard is weighed, then cubed and added to the medium gluten flour (all purpose flour) for the 'water dough' and low gluten flour (also known as cake flour) for the 'oil dough'.
Note: Traditionally lard is used for Chinese flaky pastry. Shortening is an acceptable substitute and there's also shortening replacements like this plant based non-hydrogenated shortening. The lard/shortening gives the finished pastry its lovely ivory white color.
The second step is also the same: use the fingertips to mix each bowl of lard and flour until texture is crumb like.
At the third step things there's a difference. Water is added to the 'water dough'. Nothing is added to the 'oil dough'. Each dough is kneaded til a smooth dough ball is formed.
The two types of dough are weighed and rolled into balls. For making pastries like this using a food scale to weigh out the dough is awesome and necessary for making sure that everything turns out to be the right size.
The two types of doughs are combined by wrapping the 'water dough' around the 'oil dough'. In the photo above you can see a ball of 'oil dough' placed on top of a flattened ball of 'water dough'.
The water dough is wrapped around the oil dough. Hold the dough in the position as above, using the fingers of the other hand to turn and pinch, turn and pinch, until the dough closes and the oil dough is completely wrapped inside the water dough.
The next step is the lamination or layering process. The dough wrapped within dough is rolled out thinly and then rolled up like a cigar. This is the '1st roll up'.
The dough is rested for 10 mins and then, with the 'cigar' shape pointing away from you, the dough is again rolled out thinly and then rolled up again. This is the '2nd roll up'. By rolling out and rolling up in this manner the two types of dough are being layered into more and more layers of 'water dough' separated by 'oil dough'.
Here you can see the 1st roll up on the top and the 2nd roll up on the bottom. Remember to keep the rolls under a plastic sheet to keep them from drying out as you work. Once you have the 2nd roll ups done there are a couple of different ways to finish the pastry skin, depending on how you want the layers to be revealed. The method shown below will achieve a smooth surface with delicate flaky layers all through the pastry skin.
Psst...We'll also be showing other methods where the layers are exposed on the surface in later posts!
Take the 2nd roll up and fold it in half so that the ends point up.
Press down as in the photo above. This is the final layering.
Roll out the pressed shape into a circular shape the size as needed by whatever pastry is being made. You can see the two layering rings in the photo above. The Huaiyang pastry skin is now ready for the filling and wrapping. Do make sure that the side showing the two layering rings is on the inside of the pastry, not the outside. Place filling on and wrap the dough around it, making sure to pinch close firmly.
This Chinese Flaky Pastry Dough creates a most delightfully delicate and flaky pastry skin. Though this pastry at first seems a bit complicated it is, number one, TOTALLY WORTH IT and number two, easier and easier the more you make it. I remember being nervous the first time especially as I had no idea if it would turn out at all like I expected. It ended up turning out just fine. And the second and third time it got easier and easier as I got used to the procedure. And let me tell you the final result is worth the effort. Creating this level of yummiliciously beautiful flaky pastry at home is just so soul satisfying as well as stomach pleasing!
To find out how to fill and wrap a Chinese pastry with this Chinese Flaky Pastry Dough as well as to check out our recommendations for traditional fillings for this type of Chinese pastry please see our post on Chinese Flaky Pastry with Lotus Seed Paste.
Chinese Flaky Pastry Dough | Huaiyang Flaky Pastry Recipe 淮揚酥皮
(makes 22 dough portions) Prep time: 45 mins
Water dough 油皮
2 1/3 cups + 1 tbsp all purpose flour, 300g
1 1/2 tbsp powdered sugar, 12g
4.7 oz lard (or shortening), 120g
1/2 cup chilled water, 120g
Oil dough 油酥
2 cups low gluten flour (cake flour), 240g
4.7 oz lard (or shortening), 120g
To make the water dough first sieve and whisk the all purpose flour and sugar together. Cut the lard or shortening into cubes, add to flour and use finger tips to mix lard into flour until the mixture resembles crumbs. Add chilled water and knead until a smooth dough ball is formed. If mixture is too sticky add 1 tbsp of flour at a time until smooth non sticky dough ball is formed. Try not the handle the dough too long to prevent the lard from melting from warmth of your hand. Cover water dough with cling wrap and let rest for 30 mins.
To make the oil dough first sieve the low gluten flour into mixing bowl. Add in cubed lard or shortening and use fingertips to mix until the mixture resembles crumbs. Bring mixture together to form dough ball. If too dry to form ball add 1-2 tbsp chilled water. Again try not the warm the dough up too much. Weigh out dough in .5 oz (15g) pieces and roll each into a ball. Cover with cling fling to keep from drying.
Weigh out the now rested water dough into .9 oz (25g) portions and roll each piece into a ball. On a lightly floured surface roll out a ball of water dough into a 2 inch circle. Take 1 ball of oil dough and place onto middle of flattened water dough. Use hand to mold and press the water dough around the oil dough while using fingers of other hand to pull and press the water dough up and over to completely enclose the oil dough. Pinch firmly to close, then press the pinched up portion over and flatten down.
On a lightly floured surface roll the dough within dough out into a 1/8 inch thick long oval. Roll up this oval from bottom to top. You'll end up with something that looks like a short cigar. Set aside under cling wrap for 15 mins to rest. Repeat for all the dough. This is the first roll up.
Once 1st roll up is rested its time for the 2nd roll up. Take one of the lst roll ups and, on a light floured surface place 1st roll up vertically so that it points away from your body. Press flat with fingers then roll out to a 1/8 inch thick long oval. Roll up from bottom to top. It will look like a very short cigar. Place under cling wrap to keep moist. Repeat for all 1st roll ups. Let rest covered for 30 mins.
Take one of the 2nd roll ups. Bend in half so that the ends (showing the roll up spiral) are both facing up. On a lightly flour surface, press down to flatten, then roll out to a 4 inch circle. Note: This last measurement may differ depending on what pastry you would like to make.
Your Chinese flaky pastry skin is ready to use. See our Chinese Flaky Pastry with Lotus Seed Paste recipe to find out how to fill and finish the wrapping as well as to see our other recommendations for traditional fillings for this type of Chinese pastry. Enjoy!