Saturday, August 16, 2014

Danish Pastries

I made croissants for the tea party, and it reminded me once again that I have never tackled the Danish. The method is very similar to a sweet, eggy croissant, so there was no reason for me to put it off yet another year.  Besides, I had a whole lot of blueberry and cherry preserves that I could use as filling, plus some almond flour left over from the macarons that I could use for bear claws.

One apology, and that is that this is the one-egg version.  It makes a lot.  The main difference between croissants and danish is that the danish dough uses an egg.  You're actually going to go through three by the time you make the fillings and egg wash the pastries.  I'm using the Bible's recipe because it was the smallest one I could find, but I'm reducing the butter by a stick.  They specify two dozen pastries out of the batch, but I made them out of 3" squares instead of 4" and ended up with more.  It's a good thing they are freezable.
You'll notice the weird ones that are squares with turned-up edges.  Those were supposed to be the diamond pattern you sometimes see.  They came undone in the oven.  I just dropped some jam on them and called it a day.  The pinwheels and bear claws came out the best.  I would do those again and skip the basket and diamond shapes.

1/4 C sugar
1 tsp salt
*1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 packages (5 tsp) dry yeast
about 4 C flour
*1-1/4 C milk
*1 egg
1 C (2 sticks) butter - not margarine

1.  Warm milk and sugar to 100ºF.  Stir in yeast and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2.  In stand mixer with paddle, stir together 1-1/2 C flour and the salt.  Stir in milk mixture and beat on medium until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Add egg and beat until incorporated.  Add 1-1/2 C flour to make a soft dough and beat until stringy, about 2 minutes.

3.  Turn out dough onto liberally floured board and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.  Because of the egg, the dough will remain sticky.  Do not add too much flour, hoping it will firm up.  Place in lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat all sides.  Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.  There's a lot of yeast in this dough; it won't take long.

4.  While dough is rising, roll sticks of butter between two pieces of waxed paper to make a 12" by 8" rectangle.  It isn't easy and you have to lean on it pretty hard to get the sticks started.  Place sheet in freezer to firm.
5.  Punch down dough and turn out onto lightly floured board.  You don't need to let it rest.  Roll out into an 18" by 9" rectangle.  Get butter out of the freezer and remove the top sheet.  Lay the sheet over 2/3 of the dough and remove the other piece of waxed paper.  It's ok if the butter cracks or sticks to the paper.  Just patch it back together.
6.  For the first "turn", first fold the unbuttered 1/3 over the butter, then fold in the exposed buttered side, like a tri-fold takeout menu.  Then roll out the dough again to 18" by 9", which should make the open ends on the 9" side and the folds the 18" side.  Fold those ends in again in the tri-fold pattern.  Cover and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to let everything rest and the butter re-solidify.
7.  Do two more turns of rolling, folding, and refrigerating for 30 minutes.  At this point, the dough is ready to shape.  Or, you can freeze it for up to a few weeks and let it rest at room temperature for an hour before rolling.  I chose to refrigerate it for two hours, then proceed to the shaping.  But first, you need to prepare fillings.

Almond Filling
*3/4 C almond flour
1/4 C sugar
*1/8 tsp almond extract
1 egg white
*sliced almonds for decoration

1.  Stir together almond flour and sugar, then stir in extract and egg white.  Refrigerate for 10 minutes to firm.  Fills  about 12 bear claws.

Cream Cheese Filling
1/2 C cream cheese (half a brick)
1/4 C powdered sugar
*1 egg yolk
*1/8 tsp vanilla extract

1.  Beat together cream cheese and sugar.  Beat in yolk and extract until mixture is smooth.  Place in fridge to firm up until needed.

For Jam fillings, have the jar ready.  You don't put it on the danish until it comes out of the oven because the high baking temperature will turn the jam into hard-crack candy.  I made that mistake once with jam tarts.

Also, beat another egg with 1 Tb of water to make the egg wash.

Bear Claws
1.  Remove dough from fridge and cut in half.  Rewrap unused half and return to fridge.  Roll on lightly floured board to 1/4" thickness.  Cut into 3" or 4" squares, whichever comes out more even.  Place a tablespoon of almond filling down the middle of each square, then fold over in half.  Make 4 slashes in the open end to be the "toes" and place on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with almond slices.  Allow to proof at room temperature about 30 minutes, while you're working on the other half of the dough.

1.  Roll out other half of dough to 1/4" and cut into 3" or 4" squares.  Cut a slash in each of the 4 corners reaching at least halfway to the center.

2.  Fold half of one corner in until it touches the center.  Move on to the next corner and fold the same half in, and so on around the square.  Either fill with about half a teaspoon of cream cheese filling or press down to seal pinwheel and put jam in it after baking.  Brush with egg wash and allow to proof at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Folded Danish
1.  Roll out dough to 1/4" and cut into squares.  Place one tablespoon cream cheese filling in center and fold in two opposing corners.  Pinch to seal.  Brush with egg wash and allow to proof at room temperature.  If you want to bake the jam in, fold all four corners so the jam isn't directly exposed to the heat of the oven.

To bake: Preheat oven to 400º while danishes are proofing.  Bake for 11-16 minutes, until golden brown, crisp, and puffy.  Remove to cooling rack and place half a teaspoon of jam on the ones that need it.  Before wrapping for storage, either at room temperature for one or two days or frozen for longer storage, allow to cool completely.

Makes 2 to 3 dozen, depending on size

Difficulty rating  $@%!

No comments:

Post a Comment

I got tired of having to moderate all the spam comments and put back the verification. Sorry if it causes hassles.