April 29, 2018

Danish Pastries

My friend Julia and I attended a class recently at Baking Arts in San Mateo to learn how to make Danish Pastries.  I'm no stranger to laminated dough, having made croissants, puff pastry and kouign amman before, but never have I made Danish which is made from an enriched dough with eggs.   I was happy to learn something new!

Prior to class the instructor had pre-made and shaped a batch of the dough so that we could see what it would look like before going in to the oven.  Then he showed us how to finish off the baked pastries by brushing on sugar syrup and then piping a flourish of icing.  During the class we students made the dough from scratch and laminated it with a block of cold butter.  We then took the thrice-turned dough home to finish off later.

Because I was anxious to see how my Danish would turn out I woke up really early this morning to finish the recipe.  This dough is super easy to roll out which makes it nice to handle when it's time to cut your shapes.  I made a few pinwheels and with the rest of the dough turned them in to snails.

The key with Danish is that the finished pastry is brushed with a sugar syrup that gives them that beautiful shine and gloss.  Now I was definitely skeptical when the instructor repeatedly told us to be really generous when brushing on the syrup.  I assumed it would make the finished pastry too sweet, but I was wrong.  Even with a double coating of the syrup the Danish was just right.  I'll undoubtedly be making this recipe again...next time I think I'll try a savory version. 

Danish Pastries (recipe from Baking Arts)
Makes about 10-12 pastries
3 cups (15 oz) all-purpose flour plus extra for rolling
2 tablespoons (1 oz) butter
1 tablespoon kosher salt (or 1 1/2 tablespoons table salt)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom or cinnamon
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3/4 cup (approximately) whole milk (6 oz), do not use lowfat or skim
2 large eggs
1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter, cold
 1/4 cup whole milk, for brushing
Clear Glaze
Danish Icing

Combine the flour, 2 tablespoons butter, salt, sugar and cardamom in mixing bowl.  Rub in butter thoroughly with your hands.  Make a well in the center and add yeast.
Crack eggs into a 1-cup dry measure.  Add whole milk to the top and add to the dry ingredients along with another 1/4 cup whole milk. Mix into dry ingredients with a fork or pastry scraper.  Turn dough out onto counter and knead for about a minute to just mix the dough, only adding small amounts of flour, if necessary.  Dough should be fairly soft and somewhat sticky.   Roll dough into a 10" square (we placed dough in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag to do this) and refrigerate for 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Beat 1 cup butter with a rolling pin between pieces of parchment to soften.  Work into a 6"x9" rectangle.  Place the chilled butter over 2/3 of the dough and fold like a letter to seal the butter in.  You now have two layers of butter.  Pinch the dough firmly along the seams to seal in the butter completely.

Roll the dough to approximately 18"x6" in size.  Fold in thirds and tap dough down to about 1-inch thickness.  Chill dough 30-60 minutes and repeat the rolling and folding.  Chill dough again for at least 30-60 minutes and repeat rolling and folding one last time.  Let dough rest at least two hours or overnight.  Dough is now ready to roll out for Danish pastries.

Roll dough into a square or rectangle about 1/4-inch thick.  Chill 20 minutes to relax dough.  Using a pizza wheel, trim edges to even and cut 4-inch squares to make pinwheels.  Cut four 1-inch slits at each corner and fold up one triangle at each corner to form the pinwheel, pressing down firmly in the center.  

Transfer pastries to parchment-lined pan and over loosely with plastic wrap.  Proof 1-2 hours.  Pastries will not quite double in size.

Spoon a scant teaspoon of jam into the center of each pinwheel.  Brush with milk.  Bake in a 400F (350F convection) preheated oven for approximately 15-18 minutes.  Look for rich golden color over the entire pastry.  Cool slightly and brush generously with clear glaze.  When cool, drizzle with Danish icing and serve.

Clear Glaze

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2/3 cup light corn syrup
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil then cool.  Brush over warm, but not hot!, Danish.
Danish Icing
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water (more, if needed)
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
Combine in a bowl and mix until smooth. Add more water by teaspoons to form an icing that can be drizzled over the pastries.

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