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I tried to create puff pastry.

For medical reasons I should minimize the fat on my recipe. Puff pastry is mainly made by 3 important ingredients, flour, water, and fat (butter or oil).

Unfortunately, I learned that butter and oil, consist of 100% fat. I've successfully created puff pastry using oil in a pan before. It works! I create 2 doughs, one dough is formed using flour and water, the other one is using flour and oil. Then, I do the pastry folding.

So as no-fat alternative I tried using a flour-water dough and a flour-applesauce dough, laminated as for regular puff pastry. The result was crisp at the outside, but uncooked on the inside.

I baked twice as long, and the result were very thick hard crackers. I can see the layers with different color, but there is no air in between the layers.

I've also tried only using flour-water dough pastry, folded. Again I can see different colors of the layera, but no air in between.

I haven't tried making the second dough with egg yolks though. It may interesting to see the result, since egg yolks supposedly have around 63% of fat.

Research

After that failed experiment, I read some articles about the science behind the pastry. It says that the pocket of air is formed because of the boiled water that becomes gas, trapped between the fat layers.

I assume, it happens because the oil and water are not soluble. On the other hand, the boiling point of water is 100 C (212 F), yet the boiling point of oil is around 300 C (572 F). I see here that vodka has a boiling point around 78.3 C, which is lower than water. I haven't tried vodka for the mixture with flour because vodka actually is also soluble in water.

My question is:

Is there any food grade liquid that has boiling point over 100 C and is not soluble in water?

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    Reminder: We don’t supply medical advice. Including in comments. Yes, even when said advice is probably correct. Any aspect of how the asker‘s plan fits with the limitations connected to a medical diagnosis should be discussed between the patient(s) and their doctors, not here. – Stephie Jul 27 at 20:44
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    If you are prepared to go to 63% fat for egg yolks, why not go to 80% and use butter. Butter is not 100% fat, contrary to your assertion. – Spagirl Jul 28 at 8:59
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No. An edible organic liquid that does not dissolve in water, almost by definition, is an oil.

That's not the important thing, though. Substances like mineral oil are edible yet non-nutritive; they pass through the body unchanged and would be compatible with any dietary condition. The problem is that, because they are not digestible and not water-soluble, they, ah... lubricate things. Down there. The amount you'd have to use for puff pastry would cause some real digestive issues.

Bottom line: there are no straightforward non-nutritive substitutes for fats and oils which do not cause diarrhea or loose stools.

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  • You said there that "oil are edible yet non-nutritive". What is that mean? Is it safe to eat? – Piko Monde Jul 26 at 18:09
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    Food-grade mineral oil is safe to eat, yes, but with the understanding that it will "go right through you" (you should be near a toilet!). Since it is not digested, it has a strong laxative effect. – NSGod Jul 26 at 21:03
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    @PikoMonde Non-toxic, but not digested by your body. – nick012000 Jul 27 at 2:55
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    Olestra (also known as Olean) is the non-nutritive food oil brand I know about. It's not actually mineral oil, instead being made from sucrose and food oils. It typically shows up on 'what were they thinking?' and 'top ten most epic product failure' lists. Lay's used it in their Wow! branch of potato chips in the US; it was banned in Canada and the EU. Later it turned out that the... uh... leakage... problems caused by eating them wasn't nearly as widespread as initially thought, but by then the damage had been done. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olestra – David Given Jul 27 at 21:53
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One poster has advised (correctly) that it's the water turning into steam between the layers of puff pastry that provides the lift What we need to understand is it's the fat content, in whatever form that takes, which enables that. Fat floats on top of water. Therefore, when the water turns to steam, the fat factor stops it from going through the next layer of pastry, forcing it to rise/lift. You're not going to make puff pastry without a fat aspect. That's what puff pastry is: water, flour, and fat. If you remove the fat aspect, it's the same as completely removing the flour or water. It's simply not going to happen. Try using filo instead, but even in the making of that, fat content is involved. Kind regards, David Crosswell, Master pastry chef.

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    Was another post from you removed? Are you really a pastry chef? Do you have a website? – Peter - Reinstate Monica Jul 28 at 7:31
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    That's correct in the effect, but not in the mechanics. The primary purpose of the fat is not to prevent steam and vapor from leaking out. The gluten and starch is already sufficient for that (as you can see when bread rises). Rather, the fat prevents cross-linking between the layers, encouraging a structured separation rather than a bready crumb. – Sneftel Jul 28 at 8:21
  • Hm. You may be from Australia ;-). – Peter - Reinstate Monica Jul 28 at 15:21
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I have never heard of anybody trying that, but beeswax may fulfill the role butter usually has in puff pastry. According to wikipedia and my own experience, "beeswax is edible, having similar negligible toxicity to plant waxes, and is approved for food use in most countries." This page suggests to use it instead of oil or butter to grease cookie sheets and baking molds. Beeswax is not as malleable as butter though, so I'm not sure whether it can be used like butter to produce the layers in puff pastry dough. (Try perhaps melting it and use a food brush to apply a thin layer, as if applying egg yolk).

Of course the texture of beeswax is more, well, waxy than butter. You certainly don't want too much of it in your cake. Whether the result is at all palatable is up to experimentation! I'd be glad to hear about your results in a later edit.

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  • @rumtscho I'm not passionate about it, but why did you find the "health discussion" out of place? – Peter - Reinstate Monica Jul 28 at 7:30
  • I really can't see this method getting good results, but I'm not certain, and I'm absolutely fascinated by the possibility :-) Temperature and texture control would be key; you'd have to keep the dough warm-but-not-too-warm, and you'd need a lower hydration than for conventional puff pastry so that it wouldn't be too squishy at those temperatures. Also, you'd want to use very little beeswax, since its texture is so waxy. Perhaps aerosolizing it in some way? – Sneftel Jul 28 at 8:16
  • @Sneftel Try it! :-) – Peter - Reinstate Monica Jul 28 at 10:26
  • @Sneftel Also, there are no good results without butter no matter what ;-). I was in Normandy (Northern France, Atlantic coast) in the 1970s and we ate Brioche with Butter from the cows grazing on the bluffs above the ocean... I didn't realize it back then but the art to produce such a wonderful, aromatic thing has disappeared from the face of the Earth, like the language of an Amazon tribe. – Peter - Reinstate Monica Jul 28 at 10:29
  • @Peter-ReinstateMonica it has always been out of place on this site. One of our oldest rules - and one I personally like too, because it is one of the most subjective topics you can find on the Internet (and, surprisingly, even in the expert literature). – rumtscho Jul 28 at 14:24

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