Saturday, 10 December 2016

Danish Pastries

I have been wanting to make some Danish Pastries for quite a while, but I have put it off as the process is quite time consuming.  However today I finally bit the bullet and made some.

The lovely puff pastry that is so redolent of Danish pastries, in various shapes and filled with any number of different things, is just delicious.  I have enjoyed them so often, from shops, cafes etc.  I thought that it was about time I tried to make some.

For the dough I used a Paul Hollywood recipe since I have found that his recipes usually work very well.  The recipe uses strong white flour, though I have seen lots of recipes that simply call for plain flour/all purpose flour.  That will work too, but the texture with strong white flour is a little softer and I think works very well with puff pastry as it helps to give more structure.

Having made the pastry, which takes a long time, it was then time to create the Danish pastries.  That is the point at which you can become inventive, using whatever shapes you care to create and whatever fillings you wish to use.

For mine I was sure I wanted some raisin swirls, so that would account for half my pastry.  Then I decided to try some pin wheels, with some pecan and maple syrup centres and one other shape, which I don't have a name for but which I saw someone do on The Great British Bake Off a couple of years ago. I filled that shape with passion fruit curd and apricot.

As I mentioned you can use any filling you want, even savoury fillings, though you may wish to eliminate the sugar from the dough in that case.

The result of my bake, as can be see below, isn't too bad.  The raisin swirls and the passion fruit and apricot one look fine.  The pin wheels had rather too much of the pecan paste and it spread more than I wanted.  But all three taste very good indeed.

I should say that I made too much of the pecan and maple syrup mixture, so in the recipe below I have now halved that amount.

Danish Pastries


Danish Pastries - Video

Ingredients:
For the dough:
  • 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 10g salt
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 10g instant yeast
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 90ml cool water
  • 125ml tepid full-fat milk
  • 250g chilled unsalted butter
For the fillings:
Raisin Swirls:
  • 50g raisins
  • 50g softened butter
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 50g icing sugar, if you want a simple glaze to go on top
Pecan and Maple Syrup Pin Wheels:
  • 45g pecan nuts ground finely
  • 13g softened butter
  • half tbsp maple syrup
  • 25g light muscovado sugar
  • chopped hazelnuts and muscovado sugar to sprinkle on top
Passion Fruit and Apricot Shapes:
  • 8 tsp passion fruit curd
  • 8 tinned apricots (halves)
Method:
To make puff pastry dough:
  1. Put the flour into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. 
  2. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. 
  3. Add the eggs, water and milk and mix on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for 6 minutes.
  4. Tip thedough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Dust with flour, put into a clean plastic bag, or a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap,  and chill in the fridge for an hour.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your chilled dough to a rectangle, about 50 x 20cm and about 1cm thick.
  6. Flatten the butter to a rectangle, about 33 x 19cm, by bashing it with a rolling pin. Lay the butter on the dough so that it covers the bottom two-thirds of it.
  7. Make sure that it is positioned neatly and comes almost to the edges.
  8. Fold the exposed dough at the top down one-third of the butter. 
  9. Now gently cut off the exposed bit of butter, without going through the dough, and put it on the top of the dough you have just folded down. 
  10. Fold the bottom half of the dough up. You will now have a sandwich of two layers of butter and three of dough. 
  11. Pinch the edges lightly to seal in the butter. Put the dough back in the plastic bag and chill for an hour to harden the butter.
  12. Take the dough out of the bag and put it on the lightly floured surface with the short end towards you. Now roll it out to a rectangle, about 50 x 20cm, as before. 
  13. This time fold up one-third of the dough and then fold the top third down on top. This is called a single turn. 
  14. Put the dough back in the plastic bag and chill for another hour. Repeat this stage twice more, putting the dough back into the fridge between turns.
  15. Your dough now needs to be left in the fridge for 8 hours, or overnight, to rest and rise slightly. It is then ready to use.
  16. Take the dough from the fridge and cut in half.
  17. Roll out one half to a 36cm square
  18. Cut the square into 16 9cm squares
  19. Make 8 pin wheels by taking 8 squares and cutting into each corner towards the centre but not going all the way.
  20. Dab some egg wash in the centre and take one corner of each cut piece and pressing it into the centre.
  21. Place on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.
  22. Take the other 8 square and fold each in half, into a triangle.  Cut from the folded edge up toward the point of the triangle, but not going all the way.  You need to do this about 1 cm from each edge, so two cuts.
  23. Unfold the triangle back into a square.
  24. Egg wash the centre square and fold one L shaped outer edge over onto the furthest edge of the centre square.
  25. Fold the other L shaped edge onto the other far edge of the centre square.  You will now have an elongated pastry with two layers forming a square in the centre.
  26. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  27. For the raisin swirls roll the second half of the pastry out to about 30x30cm. spread  the raisin mixture over the pastry, leaving a gap at the edge.
  28. Egg wash one edge.
  29. Roll the dough up into a sausage, pressing it down onto the egg washed egg.
  30. Cut into slices, as thick or thin as you wish.  I cut mine into 10 and discarded the ends.
  31. Place onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper and press them down to flatten them.
  32. Egg wash all the pastries and leave to rest and rise a little, for two hours.
  33. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/350 F.
  34. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until the pastries have gone a nice golden brown.
  35. Remove from the oven and brush immediately with heated apricot jam if you want a nice sticky shine.
  36. Take the icing sugar and add a little water and mix together until you have a thick dripping consistency and drip onto the raisin swirls.

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