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First Try at Danish Pastry Dough

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GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

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)

Ingredients

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

Mixing

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.

Lamination

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.

Pecan Rolls

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.

  Start of proofing

  Out of the oven

Ready to eat 

Crumb shot

 

I guess I should freeze some for Brother David’s visit next week, though he’ll think they’re too sweet too. 

Bear Claws

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.

Too much filling

Start of proofing

  Out of the oven

  Crumb shot

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.

Glenn

Comments

sam's picture
sam

GSnyde,

Pictures 3,4, 5 above, are incredible.   My gosh.    For a "first attempt" as you said, that looks awesome.  Makes my mouth water.   Can I come over for a bite?   :)

 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Sticky sweet stuff photographs really well.

Glenn

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Glen,

I am impressed with this being your first attempt!  Some people are simply born bakers and you certainly appear to be one of those gifted people.

Welcome to the Bosch family!  I love mine.  Love it so much I ended up getting it's little sibling, the compact Bosch, for when I am mixing small amounts of dough.  I love it as much as the Universal.  Simplicity at it's best!

Take Care,

Janet

 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I found TFL.  That's the biggest gift (thanks, David).  Most of what I know about baking I learned here, or in sources referred to here.  I guess I'm good at soaking up information and using it.  But a "born baker," not really.

I think I'm really going to love the BUP.  It handled its first job very well.  I'm looking forward to trying an intensive-mix sandwich bread with it.  Then, the real test will be bagel dough.

Thanks for the comments.

Glenn

Janetcook's picture
Janetcook

Glenn,

It will handle bagel dough without a problem.  I do them all the time using only whole grains which are more stressful on mixers.  The real test is Hanseata's 'Leinsamenbrot' formula.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/18406/leinsamenbrot-german-flaxseed-bread

I tripled the formula once and it bent the kneading 'hook' which the company replaced without question!  It is a very stiff dough. 

Have Fun :-)

Janet

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Glenn, you just need to make these once ... sometimes twice ... a week, until they are as you like them! (I suggest you also get a large dog that doesn't like you and start running.)

I remember the Fantasia pecan rolls all too well, but that was before the first time I had my cholesteral checked. They were really Susan's favorite pastry and the reason (along with Peet's) we always stayed near Laurel Village in those days. Our last stop before hitting the rode back home from San Francisco was generally Fantasia, to get a dozen pecan rolls to take with us.

Looking at yours, I would say cut the goop by 2/3 or more. The Fantasia pecan rolls had just enough glaze to make your fingers (very) sticky. They were about the pastry more than the filling.

That said, I would not refuse to elaborate on my critique after actually eating some of yours.

David

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I'm not gonna make these often, mean dog or not.  But when I do, I'll definitely cut down on the goop.  I think I'll try a reduced goop batch today with the last piece of dough.  Strictly for science.

And I will take some north next week, to see how gobs of goop freeze and thaw.

Glenn 

Franko's picture
Franko

Glenn I fear you may well be in the early stages of lamination addiction..... but your sure doing a nice job of it!

The crumb of your danish dough looks great, and the shaping on the pecan rolls, and particularly the bear claw are very good. The only thing I could suggest is to cut back the heat and bake time of the bear claws. 400F is a bit high for typical danish or enriched dough that's baked on a sheet pan.  Just 15-20* less heat will make the difference in getting that nice golden colour and soft mouth feel that danish have. Congratulations on the Bosch! These are pretty slick little mixers aren't they? I'm really enjoying the Bosch Compact I bought recently, a big improvement over my old style stand mixer.

Best Wishes,

Franko

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I was afraid I might be getting sucked into the pastry vortex.  If it's an addiction, I hope my love of lean hearth breads can provide a sort of Methadone.

I think you're right about the oven temperature.  The pecan roll recipe had a lower temperature and came out better.

Thanks for the compliment and the congrats on the Bosch.  Like I said, I think I'll love it.

Glenn 

mimifix's picture
mimifix

Your Danish look excellent. I'm impresed with your products and the crumb shots. Now I'm hungry...

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Cure for hunger is at hand.

Glenn

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

I'd probably need a personal trainer and cardiologist standing by if I made those.

Question: how much butter in a cube?  I don't recall seeing that unit of measure previously.

Paul

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

A cube is one-quarter pound, so 2 1/2 cubes is 5/8 of a pound.

Thanks for the comment.

Glenn

wassisname's picture
wassisname

I feel like I need to put on my running shoes just looking at the photos.  Those pecan rolls look outrageous!  I'm going to go stare a pictures of broccoli for a while just to get these pastries out of my head.  Great work!

Marcus

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I'm skeptical.

Thanks for the comment.

Glenn

wassisname's picture
wassisname

The broccoli idea backfired.  I was forced to take comfort in a big lemon-butter cookie just to take the edge off :)

ananda's picture
ananda

Lovely work Glenn,

Happy Training!

BW

Andy

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Glenn

wally's picture
wally

For an out of the gate first attempt, they look good to me.  Laminated dough is a challenge until you get used to working with it, but you're well on your way from the looks of the photos.

Nice bake,
Larry

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Larry,

It's important for me to be mentally prepared for an experiment with a new kind of formula.  That mental preparation includes a lowering of expectations.  It's easier to exceed low expectations, and my baking experience is enhanced by achieving results that exceed my expectations.  Call it  self-deception, but it works.

In reality (whatever that is), I think these pastries are more than edible.  And, as you say, for a first attempt, they look pretty good.

I hope to have some opportunities to experiment further and improve my technique. 

Thanks for the comment.

Glenn

JGregory's picture
JGregory

Those bear claws look burnt.  You should have pulled them out of the oven after the 15 minutes at 400.  Small individual items like that bake more quickly than one big item like a loaf or coffee cake.

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello Glenn,
Hope you get lots of good use and enjoyment from your new mixer.
The flavors in your danish sound so delish! And best wishes for a happy birthday!
I really like the shaping those bear claws, with the precise little cuts along the edges.
:^) from breadsong

EvaB's picture
EvaB

and numerous bakery excusions and never once did I get a bear claw that had goop or anything else in the filling. They were all more or less plain dough (and my recipe says to curl the dough strips like snails) and a glaze icing with the almonds on top! Will just have to find a goop recipe and try it out!