The last time I made Danish pastries was for my birthday in 2009. This was about a year before honeyandspice was born. In fact, I had blogged about it in my private blog back then. Time got the best of me, and I hadn’t revisited this recipe for over 4 years!!! The photos I had then were pretty crude. Also, my cooking skills weren’t nearly as honed in as they are now.
I’d been planning to make Danish pastries again for some time now. In fact, I made homemade cherry jam especially for cherry Danishes (A’s favorite). The cherry jam had been sitting in the freezer since summer 2012! I finally made them on Christmas day for A’s breakfast. The result was pretty good. Well, as good as I can gather. A is my food taster when it comes to gluten-, refined sugar- and dairy-laden foods. However, I could smell them when they were baking, and the smell alone was worth the effort. The sound of the crunch when A took a bite was so satisfying. Knowing that the insides were delicious, soft and buttery was pretty awesome too.
There is really nothing difficult about making Danish pastry dough… believe me. It is really not as daunting as you think (unless you live in a hot climate) you just need to overcome the “fear” of making it. Once the dough is made, you need wrap a butter package into it, and roll it out and fold several times. You don’t need to wait around whilst the dough is chilling between turns, simply set a timer and return for the rolling/folding, which takes about 1 minute. But please use the best European imported butter you can find/afford.
You be rewarded for your efforts! I made three varieties with one batch: cherry, pastry cream and chocolate chip. I baked the whole batch and froze what was left. To reheat, let thaw at room temperature for a few hours, or reheat in the oven.
DANISH PASTRIES: CHERRY, PASTRY CREAM AND CHOCOLATE CHIP
makes about 20 – 9 cm/3.5 inch round Danish pastries
adapted from Williams-Sonoma “Essentials of Baking”: Danish Pastry
For the Danish pastry dough
- 2-1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
- 50 g (1/4 c) raw cane (turbinado) sugar
- 65 ml (1/4 c and 1 teaspoon) water
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 30 g (2 tablespoons) salted European butter, melted and cooled
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 125 ml (1/2 c and 1 teaspoon) milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 475 g (3 cups and 3 tablespoons) plain (all-purpose) flour
For the butter package
- 125 g (1/2 c and 1 tablespoon) salted European butter
- 25 g (3 tablespoons) plain (all-purpose) flour
For the fillings
- pastry cream
- cherry jam and flaked almonds
- chocolate chips (and buttercream, optional)
For the egg wash
- 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
- icing (powdered) sugar
1. Place all the Danish pastry dough ingredients into a stand mixer bowl. With a dough hook attachment, mix on slow until dough comes together. Once dough is formed, knead for an additional 15 minutes. Pat into a rectangle 2.5 cm (1 inch) thick, cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and chill for 45 minutes.
2. To make the butter package, press the flour into the butter and shape into a 7.5 x 10 cm (3 x 4 inch) rectangle. Wrap in cling film (plastic wrap) and chill for 5-10 minutes, or until firm but still a little pliable.
3. Roll the dough out to 15 x 25 cm (6 x 10 inch). Position the dough with the short end facing you. Place the butter package onto the dough closest towards you. Fold top of the dough over and seal well.
4. Rotate the dough so that the folded side is on your left, roll to 15 x 25 cm (6 x 10 inches). Fold into thirds, like a letter. Place onto a baking tray/sheet and cover with cling film (plastic wrap). Chill for 15 minutes. Repeat this step 4 more times.
5. After the final turn, chill for 90 minutes or overnight before shaping.
6. Cut the dough into three smaller rectangles. Do not press into a ball, but leave flat. Scrunching will result in the loss of layers. Take two slabs of dough to shape the cherry and pastry cream rolls (classic sweet roll) as shown here by Joe Pastry. Take the remaining dough slab to shape the chocolate chip rolls (snail rolls) as shown here by Joe Pastry. At this point they can be frozen. If you plan to freeze them, allow the Danish pastries to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours before proceeding to step 7.
7. Arrange Danish pastries on parchment lined baking trays/sheets, leaving at least 5 cm (2 inches between each roll). Spray with water, and cover very loosely with oiled sheets of cling film (plastic wrap). Let rise for 1-1.5 hours or until nice and puffy.
8. For the cherry and pastry cream Danishes, make an indentation in the center of each roll and spoon about 1 tablespoon of jam/pastry cream into the center.
9. Preheat oven to 190 c/375 F.
10. Brush the Danish pastries with egg wash and bake in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes, or until nicely golden. Rotate the trays/sheets to ensure even cooking.
11. Transfer to a wire rack until cool. Meanwhile mix a few tablespoons of icing sugar with a few drops of water, stir. You are looking for a thick, but consistency good for drilling, so not too thick and not too thin. Adjust sugar and water accordingly. Using a fork, drizzle over the cherry and pastry cream Danishes. Let set before devouring.