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Danish Pastry

January 13, 2011

I can’t believe I made these myself.  I’m still in awe of the buttery, flaky layered pastry and they were actually simpler than you might think!

I’ve been afraid to try making a laminated pastry. 

There are quite a few steps and the dough needs to be kept very cold and there is a lot of waiting involved but I came across a Julie child recipe (written by Dorie Greenspan) for a “cheater version”  and it looked easy enough to give it a try.  Rather than adding a full layer of butter and folding and rolling, the butter is cut into the flour in large chunks using a food processor.  It is then folded into the yeast and liquid and it rests for a day (up to 4 days) in the fridge.  This is followed by a short series of rolling, folding the dough, chilling, shaping and proofing.

The recipe I followed can be found here (in case my directions aren’t very clear)

Joe Pastry  has excellent photos on how to cut and fold the pastry which you can check out here.

I chose to make jam filled pinwheels as well as bear claws that are filled with an almond paste filling.

Quick Danish Pastry

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup room temperature milk
  • 1 large room temperature egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cold, unsalted butter

Pour the water into a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast over top allowing it some time to soften (about a minute will do)  Add the milk, sugar, egg and salt and whisk to combine.  Set aside.

Put flour into the food processor and cut butter into 1/4″ thick slices.  Add butter to the flour.

Pulse 8-10 times (short pulses)  Don’t over pulse!  The butter should be no smaller than 1/2″ chunks. 

Empty the flour and butter mixture into the wet ingredients and using a rubber spatula, gently fold it until all of the dry ingredients have been moistened.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill over night  or up to 4 days.

Easy so far right??

If you have a marble or granite surface, this is when it really comes in handy.   Regular counter tops will work just fine too, but you may need to pause to chill the dough between rolling and folding.  If at anytime you find that the dough is getting too warm and sticking, pop it back in the fridge to chill the butter up!

Lightly flour your work surface.

Turn out the dough and dust with flour.  Using your hands, gently pat the dough into a rough square and then using a rolling-pin, roll it out to 16″ square.  (i used a measuring tape)

at this point, you’re going to look at the dough and think you’ve just created a mess.  It will be chunky looking and not very smooth.  Keep going!

Fold the dough into thirds (a bench scraper comes in handy for this) this is much like folding a letter to fit into an envelope.

Turn the fold (like the spine of a book) to your left.

Now roll the dough to 10″ wide by 24″ long.

Fold into thirds once more.  Turn the fold to your left.

Roll to 10″ by 24″ once more. 

Fold into  thirds.

Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. 

Now you’re ready to roll and shape your pastries!

To make bear claws with almond filling you will need:

  • 1 cup blanched ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • almond extract

Just stir everything together to form a paste.

 Cut the chilled dough in half.  re wrap the half you’re not using right away and keep it in the fridge.

ona lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/4″ thin.  You’ll likely have a rectangular shape. 

Using a pizza wheel (you can use a sharp knife, but make sure you cut straight down into the dough rather than dragging your knife through it) cut the dough into 6 pieces, trimming the edges so that they’re all clean.

put some almond filling in each of the bear claws as shown.  Wet the dough with water (use your finger, it’s easiest) where the dough will meet and fol it over sealing the seam with a little bit of pressure.  Using scissors, snip the little toes.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, bending them slightly so they resemble a claw.  Cover with plastic wrap and let proof for 1.5-2 hours.  The dough will puff slightly.

 

To shape a pinwheel…

Roll and cut the dough as described above.

Using scissors, make a cut from each corner towards the middle.   Wet a corner of the dough and fold into the middle.  Apply pressure so the dough sticks.  Repeat with every second corner of dough.  Move to parchment lined sheet, cover with plastic wrap and proof 1.5-2 hours. 

Just before baking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees (375 if you have a convection oven)

Brush the tops of the pastries with egg wash.

Fill the pinwheels with jam (or fresh fruit or cream cheese or whatever you wish)

Sprinkle the bear claws with almond slices.  (You should really also make almond claws on the toes 🙂 )

Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking.

I also used a few pieces of dough to roll up with cinnamon and sugar and raisins….they went a little bit crazy.

I will definitely make this pastry again!  They can even be shaped and then chilled over night so they can be proofed and ready to bake and impress company for breakfast!

Enjoy!

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