Archive for March, 2012

Danish Pastry

30 March 12

Danish pastry is just another laminated dough which can be made from any laminated type recipe, such as this. Or you can use the croissant dough of your choice, it’s all the same. I’ve given a recipe for croissants before. This is not quite as rich and is more suited to stuffing in my opinion, but follow your own taste buds.

Pecan and Maple Danish

Pecan and Maple Danish (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Note that you will work this dough cold at all times. Keep the kitchen cool. If your hands get warm cool them off with a bit of ice or rinse with cool water. It is not necessary to have a metal or stone counter to work this stuff. My countertop is wood and works just fine.

To make the basic dough:

—–Butter Center—–
unsalted butter, slightly softened (1-1/2 cup)
38 g bread flour (1/4 cup)

—–Dough Outer—–
525 g flour (3-1/2 cups)
110 g water (1/2 cup)
2 pkgs. yeast
1 egg
180 g cold milk (3/4 cup)
80 g sugar (1/3 cup)
3 g salt (1/2 tsp)

With a decent mixer making the dough is not hard. Without, you will need lots of elbow grease.

—– Butter Center —–
Get the butter just warm enough to be plastic, but not really soft. Cream the butter until it is soft and silky then add the 38 g (1/4 cup) of flour and blend completely. Put down a sheet of waxed paper on the counter and plop the butter into the center. Cover with another sheet of waxed paper and press it out with your hands to make a very neat and precise 9” x 11” rectangle. Be very fussy about getting it accurate and really square. No – I’m not just being obsessive – it does matter. Slide onto a sheet pan and put into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

—– Dough Outer —–
Mix together the 525g (3-1/2 cups) flour, water, yeast, egg, milk, sugar, and salt. Mix 3 minutes 1st speed, and 3 minutes 2nd speed. You may use either bread flour or all-purpose flour. I think that bread flour makes a nicer crust. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 10 minutes or so.

Sprinkle your work surface with a generous amount of flour. When you turn the dough out it will be soft, but somewhat stiff with the cold. Roll out to a 10” x 14” rectangle. Once again be somewhat fussy about the size and squareness. Place the butter on top of the dough offset such that 3 of the sides have a 1/2” border of dough. Roughly 1/3 of the dough will be exposed at one end. Starting with the exposed dough end make a 2 part book fold. In other words fold the exposed end over the butter, which should be about 1/3 of the length, fold again so that the finished piece is 1/3 the length of the original. Be fussy and make sure all is aligned and square. Put the dough on a jelly roll sheet or cookie sheet, cover, and put in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes take the dough back out and roll out to a 10” x 14” rectangle, do the double book fold, and put it back in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Repeat twice more – a total of 4 times folded. Kinda’ like Japanese or Damascus steel. A whole bunch of thin layers of dough and butter alternated. This is why this kind of thing is called laminated dough.

Egg Wash:
Beaten egg yolk with a teaspoon of cold water.

Now you can make croissants if you like, roll out into a rectangle 15” wide by 1/8” thick and as long as it winds up. Cut in half so that you have 2 strips 7-1/2” wide. Cut triangles with a base of 4-1/2” and a length of 7-1/2”. Roll the croissants from the base toward the point and then form into the crescent shape that gives them their name. Brush them with an egg wash if you want them shiny. Bake at 425°F for 20 minutes until golden.

Some other shapes are cockscombs, pinwheels, envelopes and braids – well, false braids work nicely.

Roll pastry into 16” x 18” rectangle. Cut longwise into 4 strips. Spread about 2 tablespoons down the center of each strip. Fold the dough over and seal. Cut into 3 pieces. Notch the folded side of each piece 7 times. Bow the pieces on the sealed side so that the notches open up. You can refrigerate overnight. Heat the oven to 400°F. Brush with egg and bake 5 minutes, drop the oven to 350°F and bake for another 15 minutes.

Roll dough into 18” square, cut in half both ways so that you have 4 9” squares. Re-roll the squares if necessary. Make a 4” slit from each corner toward the center. Put whatever filling you like, about 1 tablespoon between each 2 slits, 4 tablespoons per pinwheel. Fold over every other point of the corners into the center. This will partly cover the filling and form the pinwheel shape. It may help to wet the tips to make them stick better. Cover with plastic, refrigerate overnight. Brush with egg, cook 5 minutes in 400°F oven. Reduce to 350°F and cook another 30 minutes.

Roll dough into 18” square, cut in half both ways so that you have 4 9” squares. Re-roll the squares if necessary. Put 2 tablespoons of filling in opposite corners and fold like an envelope. Cover with plastic, refrigerate overnight. Brush with egg, cook 5 minutes in 400°F oven. Reduce to 350°F and cook another 30 minutes.

False Braid:
One of the niftiest ways of doing things. Cut the dough book in half and roll the half into an 8” by 16” rectangle. You will need about 1 cup of filling. Lightly mark the strip into thirds lengthways. With a pastry knife start at one end and cut off a triangle about 1” wide at the side and to the top at the other end. Should be about 30° or so. Cut the remainder of the pastry into 1” strips on each side.

The little drawing should make things a bit clearer. Lightly mark the dotted lines so you can keep things even. Cut off and discard areas ‘X’. Or make them into mini croissants. Cut the strips in the areas marked ‘Y’. Cover the area ‘Z’ with filling. Starting at the end that you cut the ‘X’s from alternately fold the strips over to the opposing side, which will cover the filling nicely. Roll each end over, moisten and pinch closed neatly. Cover with plastic, refrigerate overnight. Brush with egg, cook 5 minutes in 400°F oven. Reduce to 350°F and cook another 30 minutes.

1-1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar. ½ stick melted unsalted butter. A few drops of lemon juice. 1 tsp vanilla. Add water as necessary to make a smooth glaze to drizzle over the pastry. Can be used over any of the pastries.

Fillings are multitudinous. A few are as follows:

Almond Filling:
1 egg white
1/2 cup almond paste
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

Cardamom Filling:
6 Tbs soft butter
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup currants
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Macaroon Filling:
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup finely crushed almond macaroons
1/2 tsp almond extract

Pecan Filling:
1/4 cup soft butter
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp rum extract

Your favorite jam, jelly or marmalade if they are good and thick can be used for filling.


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