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I used store-bought puff pastry to make a tart with two layers of pastry (with some soft cheese in the middle). Even though it baked, neither the top nor the bottom layer of pastry rose or puffed at all.

I kept the puff pastry in the refrigerator instead of the freezer for a few days between purchasing and baking. Whoops! I was also pretty sloppy about "room temp"; I just worked the dough when it was flexible. Would this incorrect temperature management have caused the failure to rise?

I did not use an egg wash. I baked at 400° F for about 17 minutes, in a square ceramic dish, pre-greased with sprayable butter. Since the pastry didn't quite fit in the dish, I used a butter knife to trim the edges off of the pastry.

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Additional info: The center of the pastry was not risen at all, even though it was ~9 inches square. I didn't roll the dough at all. –  KatieK Jul 5 '13 at 20:14
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Puff pastry is a laminated dough, with very strong gluten development, so an extra couple of days in the refrigerator should not have caused problems.

450 F seems like a typical temperature, and the time seems in the normal range.

The only thing you have mentioned is that is definitely outside the standard treatment is trimming the edges with a butter knife. Normally, you want to trim or cut puff pastry with a very sharp knife or pizza cutter, in order to cleanly cut through the layers. A blunt knife like a butter knife can mash the layers together, making it hard for them to separate at the edges of the pastry.

Still, this should have lead to lopsided or strangely risen pastry, rather than a complete failure to rise, especially in the center.

The other possibility is that the dough was too warm when you rolled and worked it, or that you rolled it too much, which would work the fat or butter layers into the dough phase, rather than keeping discrete layers of flour then fat, which is what allows the rise.

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