Buttery Best: Rich Yeast Pastry



Rich yeast based dough is the name for the same dough that is commonly used in croissants. It uses butter to develop soft layers and flour to provide the gluten to hold it together. It also uses a leavening agent, in this case yeast. Danish pastry, croissant and brioche are all types of yeast-raised doughs.

Folded breads are rich yeast breads with the mechanical action of folding introduced. The dough is layered with butter so that the richness of brioche or soft dough is combined with the flaky lightness of puff pastry.

To make folded bread, the dough is sandwiched with butter and repeatedly rolled and folded in three, so that it is “turned” in the manner of puff pastry. This process distributes the butter throughout the dough in dozens, sometimes hundreds, of paper thin layers, depending on the amount of rollings. 

'There is nothing average about a croissant. The amount of energy exerted to roll and fold the pastry should surely make up for the hit of buttery goodness that one croissant provides. The renowned French croissant was in fact first invented in Budapest, Hungary during the siege of that city by the Turkish Empire in 1686. The bakers and pastry chefs, who worked through the night, were able to send a warning that the Turks had tunnelled through the underground passages into the city. And the attack was overpowered. In appreciation for their great bravery and assistance, the bakers were granted the right to use the crescent emblem, the symbol of the ottoman empire, in their confections in whatever way they chose. They made their design with a rich yeast dough, and so the croissant was born. It is served throughout France for breakfast.'


Flour – use plain flour, a fresh packet, or treat yourself to bakers flour, which is higher in protein, therefore better gluten making properties. A strong gluten bond needs to be formed, so there is no way around making a gluten free option.


Yeast – A fresh yeast is always best. Yeast will expire, and quickly if isn’t kept sealed from air and in a chilled environment. Always test the yeast if unsure prior to prepping everything else. Add a teaspoon to ½ cup warm water with 1 teaspoon sugar dissolved. If it hasn’t bloomed in 5 minutes, it is likely to be past its due by date.


Butter – A good NZ butter is best. Unsalted is preferable on the palate at the end, but it isn’t critical. Keep the butter chilled as best you can, and always cut into small pieces so distribution through the dough is easier.



This is a simplified version of the recipe. There are hours that can go into refining the technique to make these pastries. This recipe makes a good batch of about 12 pastries. Doubling is helpful but beware the hand labour of a bigger dough. Smaller batches is more manageable. But don’t be put off the effort is worth it, and with a bit of practise its easy to become a baking sensation.

600g plain flour

10g salt

1/3 cup (60g) caster sugar 

1 tablespoon fresh instant yeast

200ml milk, warm – about 37°C

1 cup tepid water about 37°C

2 tablespoons softened butter

1 ½ cups (375 g) unsalted butter

Extra 2-3 tablespoons flour, for dusting


Mix ingredients (except cold unsalted butter and extra flour) until a dryish, shaggy mix using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle or by hand. Remove from bowl and gently knead for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth. Dough should be tacky to touch. Place in lightly oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap and chill overnight or for 4 hours.

The next day, cut butter into 1cm pieces, sprinkle with a little of the extra flour, and pound between two pieces of baking paper with a rolling pin. Be sure to keep butter cool, work out of the sun and on a cool surface. Shape into a 15 x 15 cm square about 1.5 cm thick. Cover and return to the refrigerator if your butter feels too soft.

First roll: Remove from fridge, place dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll dough to 18 x 36cm rectangle. Start with the narrow edge closest to you. Place butter square on the bottom half of the dough, fold the top half over the butter. Lightly seal the edges, tap with the rolling pin to even out the thickness.

Turn dough one quarter so the fold is on the left and could open like a book. Roll dough, keeping same width, to 61cm in length. Fold dough into thirds, as you would a letter. Tap or shape dough to even thickness, turn again so fold is on the left side. 

Cover the dough lightly with beeswax wrap and rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. If your room is warmer than 21°C rest in refrigerator.

Repeat four times, waiting or chilling at least 20 minutes between turns.




WHY... Folding layers?

Each time you fold the dough the layers are forming in the dough. The butter creates a division in the layers. When the butter heats and melts in the oven, the water in the butter will become steam, and The oils of the butter create the crispy layers of pastry. The steam pushes the layers of dough apart creating the light flaky layers of the croissants or Danishes.


Top Four Recipes


1kg batch of rich yeast dough
1 egg, mixed with 1 tbsp water, for brushing

Preheat oven to 200°C conventional bake, or 180°C fan bake. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Final roll, remove from fridge and uncover.  Roll out dough on a floured surface to a 30cm x 35cm, 4-5mm thick. Using a sharp knife, trim edges and cut square into quarters, and each quarter into two triangles.

Lightly brush the 2 shorter sides of each triangle towards with egg glaze, roll long side of each triangle towards the point. 

Place rolls on baking sheet, with points underneath, and turn in the two ends of each roll to form a crescent shaped croissant.

Cover rolls and stand them in a warm place to double in size. Brush the rolls with beaten egg wash and bake in oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden. Leave tray to cool on baking rack for at least 30 minutes before eating.

TIP: If you serve the croissants too soon the butter will not have cooled and the pastry will have a greasy feel and taste.


Fashioned on the French style croissant, filled with chocolate and eaten in Paris for breakfast. Traditionally a bitter chocolate is preferred, but any chocolate can be used, or even flavoured with a hazelnut chocolate spread, peanut butter or even honey.

1kg batch of rich yeast dough
350g chocolate batons, bittersweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 200°C conventional bake, or 180°C fan bake. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Final roll, remove from fridge and uncover.  Roll out dough on a floured surface to a 30cm x 35cm, 4-5mm thick. Using a sharp knife, cut rectangles measuring 7.5 x 10cm. 

Place a chocolate baton at each end. Roll/fold each end of dough toward the centre, then each once again. This will create a scroll shape. Place dough smooth side up, rolls down, on baking sheet. 

Cover and allow pastries to rise at room temperature for 1 hour. Brush the beaten egg wash over each pastry before baking. Try not to let the egg to drip down the side of the pastry onto the baking sheet.

Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Rotate baking tray half-way through if necessary. Transfer tray to cooking rack, allow pastries to cool at least 30 minutes. 


1kg batch rich yeast dough
1 egg in 1 cup warm water, beaten well
2 cups brown sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
2-3 tablespoons bush honey

Preheat oven to 200°C conventional bake, or 180°C fan bake. Generously butter a muffin pan.  

Final roll, remove from fridge and uncover.  Roll out dough on a floured surface to a 30cm x 35cm, 4-5mm thick rectangle. 

Brush the dough lightly with egg water mixture. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together.  Spread evenly on to surface of dough. 

Roll dough starting on the long edge. Slice into twelve pieces, about 3-4 cm. Place cut side down into each muffin cup. The dough should stand about 1cm above the cup rim.

Place on the pan on a baking paper lined baking sheet to catch any drips. Place in oven right away (no need for second rise) and bake about 35-40 minute, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven, and flip pan over for buns to drop out and caramelised sugar to drip onto buns. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Mix together 1 ½ cups granulated sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon. Carefully roll warm buns in the sugar mixture or coat with honey. (check)


1kg batch rich yeast dough
1 egg mixed with 1/4 cup water
150g creamy feta cheese
4 cups assorted roast vegetables
Sundried tomato pesto
To garnish, fresh herbs

Preheat oven to 200°C conventional bake, or 180°C fan bake. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Final roll, remove from fridge and uncover. Roll out dough on a floured surface to a 30cm x 35cm, 4-5mm thick. Using a sharp knife, cut rectangles measuring 7.5 x 10cm. 

Lay each rectangle flat on a baking tray. Use a sharp knife to slightly cut a rectangle shape 1.5cm in from the edge, NOT cutting through the whole depth of pastry, just slicing into the top half. 

Leave covered, to rise for 30 minutes. Brush each rectangle with the egg wash. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, until crisp and golden.

Remove from oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes, before cutting the inner rectangle and lifting it out of the pastry. 

Sprinkle the inside of each case with a little feta cheese. Arrange some roasted vegetables in the pie. Spoon on some pesto, and season with freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with fresh herbs, to serve.