Sunday, April 24, 2011

So, about these danish pastries

One thing I've noticed down here, is that as much as I love Warrnambool, for the life of me, I can't get my hands on fresh sour cherry danishes. So, I decided to make some for myself. I have always been a bit wary of pastry, but trying out Maggie Beer's Sour Cream Pastry was a watershed. It really isn't that hard; just follow the instructions, keep the pastry cool, and you are totally bound for pastry success!

Anyhow, I have soo much unsalted butter sitting in the refrigerator now. Now that I have practiced the laminating technique on these danishes, next stop is puff pastry for sausage rolls!

This recipe is from Nigella Lawson's "How to be a Domestic Goddess"
I looked at the pastry recipe in the "Bourke St Bakery" Cookbook, but the proportions were far too much. For goodness sake, making 36 danishes just for the 2 of us seemed a bit too far fetched, even for pastry lovers like Food Critic Andrew and myself. However, I do like the idea that the Bourke St Bakery folks have of using a ferment process. I think it would give a much deeper flavour to the pastry. Now that I am a bit more confident freezing the unused pastry (I took Nigella's advice and froze half the mixture), I think I may just give it a go sometime. Of course, I will report back... I really love sour cherry danishes!

Also, a note as to my variations on Nigella's recipe: I mixed the yeast differently, to ensure that it was still viable. I also cut the sections into 9 parts instead of 6, I felt that this made a better pastry to fruit ratio. I also omitted the sweet icing on top (not the sugary glaze; I tried that on the first lot, but it wasn't a success). I have never been a fan of the sweet icing. Oh, and I also used my stand mixer for this, so it is technically not "Processor" but "mixer"

Processor/Stand Mixer Danish Pastry

(adapted from Nigella Lawson)


60ml warm water
7g (1 sachet, or 2-ish tsp) dried yeast. Even better, use 15g fresh yeast if you can get it
25g caster sugar
125ml room temp milk
1 (room temp) egg
350g white bread flour
1 tsp salt
250g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes


1. Add the yeast to the water, along with a teaspoon of sugar and mix. Leave for 15 minutes to ensure that the yeast froths up, and is viable.

2. Add the egg to the milk, and beat to mix.

3. In a stand mixer, put the flour, salt and remaining sugar. Add the butter cubes, and mix. You still want chunks of butter visible. (I panicked at this stage and wondered if my chunks were far too big. I wouldn't worry though; in the laminating stage, the butter gets nicely mixed through).

4. Add the liquids, and use your hands to fold it together briefly. The mixture is sticky with buttery lumps though it. Cover and leave overnight (or up to 4 days, according to Nigella).

5. On the day you are ready for your pastries, take it from the fridge and leave it to go to room temp, about and hour or so.

6. Roll into a 50cm x 50cm square (I didn't quite get it that big I don't think, but aim for that at any rate)

7. Laminating: Fold the dough into thirds, like you are folding a business letter. Then turn it clockwise so that the closed fold is to the left. Roll it out again to 50 x 50, and laminate again. Do this 3 times.

8. You can cat the dough into halves and freeze one portion here.

9. Refrigerate for half and hour (this lets the gluten in the dough rest).

10. Roll out the pastry into a big square, and cut into 6 or nine pieces, depending on how big you want them to be. I recommend the 9 piece option.

11. Place on baking paper and add your sour cherries, again, you can go free form here and add any sort of fruit. I also did a few with stewed apricots, which were very good.

12. Fold over the corners, and let them rise in a warm place for about one and a half hours. They should double in size.

13. Add an egg glaze if you so choose, and bake in a preheated 180 degree centigrade oven for approximately 20 minutes. The pastry should be a coppery brown colour.

14. After removing the oven, immediately glaze the pastries in an icing sugar/water mix (I just added some water to a small bowl of icing sugar and mixed it. It should be very gluggy).

15. Let them cool slightly....
Food Critic Andrew has added extra icing sugar to sate his sweet tooth!

16. And then finally you get to eat them! A lot of steps, granted, but totally worth it, especially if you don't have access to fresh danishes in your area...

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