Day 15: Danish Pastries

by Dana on December 15, 2011

One of the main reasons I wanted to do a Sweets and Treats countdown was to share this yummy “Breakfast Cake” danish that my mom always brought out, every Christmas morning. But with the busy-ness of the month and yada yada yada, I got sucked into other recipes filled with chocolate and fruits. And I never made the danish.
But….
enter Katy! (of No Big Dill). You know, that Katy. The one that just gave birth to her sweet boy Drummer, after having 5 cute girls ahead of him. The Katy that’s oozing with creative genius and snaps gorgeous photos of everything? Yes. That’s the one. I’m so happy I know her.
And today she’s sharing Danish Pastries!
YUM.
Let’s hear from Katy…
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What a fun series this has been! This was the first thing that came to mind when Dana said “holiday treats.” This is a tradition that goes back to my great-grandma, having Danish heritage. The rumor is she would keep this in the freezer and my dad, as a little boy, would sneak them and eat them straight from the freezer. I believe it.

I used Julia Child’s recipe this year, which simplifies the process.

Normally you make the dough and layer a slab of butter on top,

but with this method, you incorporate the butter slightly into the dough.

And just when I thought to myself, but isn’t that cheating? I read Julia’s words:


Don’t think you’re cheating by taking the fast track–this is the way it’s done these days all over Denmark, where they know great Danish when they taste it.

Thank you, Julia, for giving your stamp of approval.

You have simplified my life. Or at least my Christmas tradition.

I think another reason I love making Danish is you get to treat it like fabric ;), folding it over and over,

and then you get to play origami (another one of my loves)!

And until you’ve had a hot one out of the oven…

you haven’t been properly treated to a Danish pastry.

We’re also keeping it simple with just a glaze but you can always add fillings to your taste.

Danish Pastries
1/4 cup warm water

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1/2 cup milk, room temp.

1 egg, room temp.

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

2 1/2 cups unbleached flour

2 sticks COLD unsalted butter

Pour water into large bowl, sprinkle over yeast, let soften for a minute. Add milk, egg, sugar, salt.
Put flour in the bowl of a food processor, add butter in chunks of 1/4″ slices. Pulse until butter is cut into pieces about 1/2″ in diameter. Don’t overdo this–the pieces must not be smaller than 1/2″.
Empty the contents of food processor into bowl with the yeast and gently work together with a rubber spatula until dry ingredients are moistened. Don’t be too energetic–the butter must remain in chunks to make a flaky pastry, not a bread or cookie dough.
Put dough in bowl, cover and chill overnight or up to 4 days.
Lightly flour a cool working surface and roll the dough into a 16″ square. Fold in thirds, like a letter. Roll out dough again, and repeat folding. Repeat this process 3 more times. If at any time the dough becomes too soft, put it back in the fridge to let it harden up again. You’ve just created the most beautiful layers. Divide the dough in two and cover and refrigerate 30 minutes (or up to 4 days or freeze up to a month.)
Roll dough out to a 10 X 16 inch rectangle and cut out desired shapes. A pinwheel is shown above, but you can also do a braid, or what ever other shape you desire–get creative!
Brush with an egg white whipped with a tablespoon of water and bake until golden brown (about 10 minutes, but watch it!) at 400℉.
Glaze while warm with a cup of powdered sugar mixed with a drop of orange oil (optional) and enough milk to make a drizzling consistency. Top with a chopped maraschino cherry (optional). Serve warm (optional, but highly recommended), and with a cold glass of milk.
I like that you can make the dough in advance and whip out some fresh, warm pastries when your guests arrive, or on Christmas morning after gifts are open (which my dad always did.) You should point out to your lucky eaters just how many layers they are about to enjoy, and describe to anyone who will listen how you folded and folded that supple dough. I promise.


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Oh wow. Making danishes always sounded so tricky. But just like Julia, you made it seem so easy! Why don’t you live in Texas any more? I’d be on my way to your house for a fresh-out-of-the-oven sample.
Thank you Katy for sharing!

And come back later because today and tomorrow are GIVEAWAY DAYS!
Check out the Sweets and Treats archive page HERE.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jaclyn December 1, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Looks yummy! Hopefully I will find some time to try these! Even if it is after the holidays!

Desiringtobetitus2.blogspot.com

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2 Karen Crosby April 10, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Looks so good! Thanks for the recipe!

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