This week I take on my toughest baking challenge yet – Danish pastries. They’re tricky, they’re time consuming and most definitely a labour of love. But my oh my are they rewarding! If you’re wanting a slightly faster but equally rewarding challenge, you should absolutely try these homemade doughnuts. They’re just as epic!
This recipe makes 24 Danish Pastries which I have split into two batches. Half chocolate chip & the other half apricot and lemon. The ingredients I have given reflect this. If however, you want to make the whole batch as one flavour, simply double the filling & icing ingredients. Right, onwards and upwards!
For the Pastry Dough
For The Creme Patissiere
For The Glaze
For The Chocolate Chip Filling & Icing (Enough for x 12)
For The Apricot & Lemon Filling & Icing (Enough for x 12)
Ok let’s get started with the dough. Ideally you do need an electric stand mixer as it is a very wet/sticky dough to start with.
Put the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add the salt & sugar to one side and the yeast to the opposite.
Beat together the eggs, water and milk.
TIP! If it’s too cold, pour into a saucepan over a very low heat, stirring constantly until it is tepid. (Meaning, if you can’t tell whether it’s hot or cold, it’s tepid.)
Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix on a low speed for 2 minutes until all the ingredients are mixed together.
Then mix on a medium speed for a further 6 minutes.
Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Dust it all over with flour then place into a large plastic bag. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, take the block of cold butter and bash it with a rolling pin until it is a rectangular sheet measuring approx 33 x 19cm. Wrap in clingfilm and place back into the fridge to solidify whilst the dough is still resting.
Once the hour is up, take the dough out of the fridge and roll to a rectangle measuring approx 50 x 20cm. (About 1cm thick.)
Then take the butter rectangle and place it over the bottom 2 thirds of the dough.
Fold the top third over (so it overlaps half of the butter.)
Then carefully cut the exposed butter off – without cutting the dough underneath it and place on top of the dough you just folded down.
Now fold the exposed third of dough, up over the top of the butter.
Pinch the edges together lightly to seal and place back into the bag. Pop into the fridge again for another hour.
When the hour is up, remove the chilled dough and place on a lightly floured surface with the short side towards you.
Roll out into a rectangle the same size as before. (about 50 x 20cm.)
Fold the bottom third up…
Then the top third down…
This is a single turn. Place back into the bag and into the fridge for another hour. Repeat this ‘single turn’ step 2 more times. (Always starting with the short side towards you.)
After this, dust lightly all over with flour, place back in the bag and rest in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight. Then your dough will finally be ready to use!
Tic toc tic toc…
Whilst time is ticking on, make the creme patissiere.
Whisk the sugar, egg yolks & cornflour together in a bowl until smooth then set to one side.
Oh, and those spare egg whites? Don’t waste them! Pop them in a bag and freeze them so you can make some meringues or marshmallow later. Waste not want not!
Pour the milk into a large, heavy base saucepan. Split the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds and put into the milk along with the empty pods.
Bring it to the boil then remove from the heat.
Pour about a quarter of the milk onto the egg mixture and whisk until there are no lumps.
Pour this back into the pan with the rest of the milk and cook over a gentle heat, whisking constantly.
The mixture will become like a thick custard.
Once this happens, immediately remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir for a minute so it doesn’t catch on the bottom.
Pass the creme patissiere through a sieve then stir in the butter to melt through.
Spread it over a baking sheet and cover with cling film, making sure the film actually touches the surface of the creme patissiere. This will stop a skin from forming. Place in the fridge until needed.
I told you it was a labour of love! Right. Now the dough has had time to rest properly and the creme patissiere is completely chilled, we can assemble our Danish Pastries.
VERY IMPORTANT! With laminated (layered) doughs/pastries, never roll it up into a ball and roll out as you will lose all those beautiful layers you’ve spent so long putting in.
Halve the dough and roll out one of them to a rectangle with a long side towards you. Spread half of the creme patissiere over it leaving a clear 5cm margin on the long edge nearest to you. (I made a mistake here and didn’t leave enough room. Making it difficult for myself to roll as you can see in the photos below.)
Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips over the creme patissiere then ‘tack’ the long edge nearest you to the worktop.
Take the top edge and carefully roll it over. Continue to roll towards you, pulling away from you a little each time to create a little tension. When you have reached the tacked edge, gently roll the dough backwards & forwards to seal the join.
Trim the edges then cut the roll into 12 even portions.
(Again, I made a mistake and only cut 6 like a plonker! I rectified it later but it was far more difficult than if I had just cut 12 at this stage. It also made them a little misshapen. Doh!)
Repeat the process for the other flavour only adding the chopped apricots instead of chocolate chips.
Lay the pastries cut side up on lined baking sheets. Allow a bit of room between each one for spreading.
Cover with large plastic bags and prove for about 2 hours until at least doubled in size.
About 30 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C.
Brush the pastries all over with the beaten egg then bake for about 15-20 minutes until a deep golden brown on top. Turn the trays round halfway if necessary to ensure an even bake.
While the pastries are baking, Warm the apricot jam in a saucepan with a little water to make a thin, runny glaze.
As soon as the pastries are out the oven, brush them all over with the glaze and allow to cool. At this point, they will start to look very sexy…
When they are cool enough to handle, transfer the pastries to a wire rack to cool completely whilst we make the icings.
For the chocolate icing, simply put the icing sugar in a bowl or jug, add the water and mix until it becomes smooth and thick.
For the lemon icing (to go on the apricot Danish Pastries) put the icing sugar in a bowl or jug, add the water and the grated zest of 1 lemon and mix until it becomes smooth and thick.
All that is left for us to do now is to drizzle the icings over the pastries in a ‘haphazard’ manor and allow it to set.
Now take a step back and applaud your masterpieces.
Ok, so it’s taken pretty much 2 days to make them, the list of ingredients is as long as my arm and they were pretty fiddly to make. But look at them. Look at that beautiful golden shine, those gorgeous pockets of apricots and melted chocolate chips… all finished with a beautiful drizzling of runny icing. Wasn’t it all worth it? I guarantee these Danish Pastries will taste better than any of those horrifically dry pastries you get at the supermarkets. They somehow never fail to disappoint me. But these babies, particularly on the day of baking, are absolutely divine! They’re moist, oozingly sticky & just down right fantastic!
I hope this wasn’t too long a read for you all!
Until next time lovelies.
(Recipe adapted from Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake)
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