First Try at Danish Pastry Dough
For the first anniversary of my bread baking and for my upcoming birthday, my darling got me a Bosch Universal Plus (how did she know!?). I should have tried it out with a recipe I know well so I could start to evaluate mixing times and speeds intelligently based on experience. But that would be too sensible. I’d already decided it was time to try making Danish pastry dough, and that was the first thing my new BUP got to do.
Danish pastry dough is very much like croissant dough, but with egg (one whole egg and one egg yolk per three and a half cups of flour or so). For a whole bunch of great lessons (mostly applicable to this dough), see Txfarmer’s post about her croissant quest (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/22677/poolish-croissant-pursuit-perfection). The recipe for the dough and the pastries are from the Love To Bake Pastry Cookbook, by Ernest Weill, the founder of Fantasia Confections, a famous San Francisco palace of sweets that made happiness from the 1950s through the early ‘90s. The cookbook, which Brother David has mentioned before, can be obtained in pdf format over the web for a $25 contribution (http://lovetobakecookbook.com/).
This was my first time using that cookbook, my first time making Danish pastry dough and my first time using the BUP. Surprisingly, there were no disasters (if no huge successes) and I learned a thing or two.
This cookbook uses volume measures, and sometimes shows weights, but I’m not sure they’re accurately translated. (I’d promise to work on this dough and report back with a reliable formula, but I can’t eat this much sugar and butter again right away). The dough formula in the cookbook called for too little flour (by weight) and too little mixing time. I added both, but I’m not sure if I got it right. I also departed from the procedures in the book somewhat.
Here’s where I ended up:
Danish Pastry Dough (yields 4 pastry rings or 32-48 pastries depending on size)
1 ¼ cups milk (120 F)
1 ¾ tsp instant yeast
heaping ¼ cup sugar
3 ½ cups AP flour (about 18 ½ ounces)
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp lemon zest
2 tsp vanilla
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
½ cube sweet butter, melted
Mix all ingredients except the flour on low speed for one minute. Add 3 cups of flour and mix on low speed for four minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the remaining ½ cup of flour slowly, then mix on low speed another 3-5 minutes (again, stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary) until the dough forms a good ball.
Once I had a workable dough (moderately strong if still somewhat loose), the lamination process begins (as for croissant dough). Scrape the dough onto a very well floured board and shape into a rectangle. While the dough rests, pound/roll 2 ½ cubes of cold sweet butter into a 9” by 8” sheet and then refrigerate it while you roll out the dough. With a well-floured pin, roll the dough out to 10” by 15”. Plop the butter sheet on top of one side of the dough sheet, fold the unbuttered part of the dough over the butter sheet (it’ll half cover it), then fold the opposite (buttered) side over into a tri-fold (there are good illustrations—worth a thousand words--in the cookbook). Seal the seams. Then, roll the dough block out to 16” by 8”, wrap well in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes. Put the dough again on a well-floured board and let it rest 10 minutes covered, then roll it out to 18” by 12”. Then do a tri-fold as for croissants. Then roll it to 16” by 8” and refrigerate 30 minutes again. Repeat this process of rolling, folding, rolling and refrigerating two more times. Then the dough (in a 16’ by 8” block) goes in the fridge overnight.
The memory of Fantasia’s pecan rolls is what led Brother David on a search for the recipe, resulting in his discovery of the cookbook download. I only vaguely remember them. What I remember best are Fantasia’s opera cakes, Napoleans and eclairs. These pecan rolls are a high-butter, high-sugar version of typical cinnamon-pecan rolls. Half way between candy and bread.
Prepare a 12-cavity muffin tin with non-stick baking spray. Then coat the bottom and sides of the cavities with glaze (see recipe below) and 1 ½ cups of pecan pieces. Take ¼ of the dough recipe above. Roll out to 6” by 16”. Slather on melted butter (about 2 Tbsp). Then cover with 3 Tbsp of cinnamon-sugar and ½ cup of fairly finely ground pecans. Press the filling into the dough and roll it up into a 16” log, jelly roll style. Cut into 12 pieces and put one in each muffin cavity. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled (about 2 hours). Then bake at 375 F for about 25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes, then invert onto a baking sheet (and scrape the nuts and caramel goo left behind in the muffin tin onto the rolls).
Glaze: Mix ¾ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup honey and 3 Tbsp of soft sweet butter until well blended.
The cookbook calls for almost twice that amount of glaze, and the result was way too sweet. Otherwise, the pecan rolls are delectable: excellent melt-in-the-mouth pastry dough, and the ground pecan-cinnamon filling is outstanding.
I guess I should freeze some for Brother David’s visit next week, though he’ll think they’re too sweet too.
I’ve always loved bear claws. I wish my first attempt had been closer to my ideal. These had way too much marzipan filling (I’m beginning to see a trend with this cookbook). Next time I’ll cut it in half. The following recipe cuts the marzipan to what I think would be a more proper proportion.
Take ½ of the above dough recipe and roll it out on a well-floured board to 10” by 15” (about 1/8” thick). Cut the dough into two halves of 5” by 15”. For each of these pieces, spread a narrow strip of filling (see recipe below) in the middle along the long axis. Fold the dough in half over the filling and press the seam to seal. Cut ½” slits along the seam every ½ inch. Pull the ends of the log to spread it to 16-17 inches. Cut each log into four pieces and bend each into an arc to spread the “fingers”. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sliced almonds and proof until doubled (about two hours). Then bake at 400 F. for 15 minutes, then at 375 F. for another 10-15 minutes or so, until top and bottom are golden brown.
Filling: Put ½ log of almond paste (3 ½ ounces) in food processer. Pulse with metal blade until soft and smooth. Add ¼ cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup powdered sugar and ½ an egg white to the processer, and pulse until just mixed and not lumpy. Keep covered until used.
As mentioned, the recipe had much too much filling, and was way too sweet. The excess filling also expanded hugely and kinda tore some of the poor bear claws apart. Once they cooled, their swelling subsided. And it turns out they were a bit underdone inside (probably due to the excess of filling). I will try this recipe again some day, but even if all the proportions were right, I think the pecan rolls are the real winners.
I have ¼ of the dough left over. Maybe I’ll make something else tomorrow.
So that was my first try at Danish pastries. It was a pretty good learning experience, and I have a lot more to learn. I wish I could experiment on these regularly, but I’d have to take up running, and that would have to involve someone chasing me.