Last weekend was hard. I caught some kind of stomach bug over the weekend (or maybe I over indulged a little bit and ate too much). I made these Danishes on Friday afternoon but by Friday evening, I was feeling nauseous at the sight of any kind of food and all I got to eat out of the 8 Danishes I made was a single Strawberry Danish. Oh well at least I got to eat that one and it was SO good.
If you read my post on croissants, you already know about the long procedure for making them. Well Danishes are made with laminated dough too, but the process is much simpler and they are just as delicious as croissants. I made eight and shaped them in different ways, they were just so much fun to make!! I also had three baskets of fresh, red strawberries and I wanted to incorporate some of those too, so I went with three different fillings- Cream cheese only, Strawberries and Cream cheese and Lemon flavored cream cheese. I only got to taste the version with strawberries but I know G had a hard time pinning down his favorite, they were all SO good.
ok, that’s more pictures than I usually put but these babies deserve them. Now for the recipe. The original dough recipe was for 24 danishes and the filling was for 12, I halved the dough recipe for convenience.
Danish Recipe (makes 12)
adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking
Part 1 – Dough (Detrempe) and Butter Block (Beurrage)
- 1/4 cup warm whole milk (2 oz.)
- 1/2 tsp. + 1 tbl. sugar (1/2 oz.)
- 1/2 Tbl. instant yeast
- 1 cold large eggs
- 3 oz cold whole milk
- 9 oz all-purpose flour – unbleached
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1.5 sticks cold unsalted butter (6 oz.) cubed
- 0.63 oz all-purpose flour
Making the dough
- Combine the warm milk, 1 tsp. sugar, and yeast. Let sit 10 minutes or until bubbly. If bubbles do not appear you might want to think about getting some new yeast.
- In another bowl (if you have one you can use a stand mixer at this point) whisk together the cold milk, eggs and remaining 2 Tbl. of sugar.
- Combine the yeast mixture with the egg mixture. In a separate medium bowl whisk the flour and salt until well blended.
- Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture stir to combine or use the hook attachment if using a stand mixer. Mix on low for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes – until the liquid is absorbed and a rough dough has formed.
- Lightly knead 3-5 times on a flour dusted surface. Do not overwork the dough – through the rolling out process the dough will be tough and elastic if it is overworked at this point.
- Wrap the dough in plastic then refrigerate for 30-60 minutes. If you are planning on resting the dough for longer, which is perfectly acceptable, simply wrap the dough loosely so there is room for it to expand.
Making the butter block
- Toss the butter with the flour. In a clean bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (a wooden spoon or hands work well too) add the butter and mix on low until the butter and flour have formed a smooth mass.
- You don’t want to incorporated air at this point so keep the mixing slow. Form the butter on parchment or plastic wrap into a rough rectangle then cover and refrigerate.
Butter+Dough and some rolling
- Lightly dust your work surface with flour. Roll the danish dough into a rectangle with a short side parallel to the edge of your work surface.
- Pull or stretch the dough to form straight edges and sharp corners. Brush excess flour off of the dough.
- Visually divide the dough into 3 equal sections. Spread the cold but pliable butter over 2/3 of the dough (two of the three sections) leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edges of the buttered sections. This is called the letter fold. Excellent pictures on this process here.
- Fold the butter-less bottom third up over the center third of the dough. Then fold the top down over the center (like a letter). Pinch the seams along the bottom and sides of the dough.
- At this point, if the butter feels like its melting, refrigerate the dough for an hour. If not, get ready for more folding and rolling!
- Position the dough with the short side parallel to your work surface and the long fold on your left. Lightly dust the dough with flour and roll into a rectangle. Fold the two short edges into the center of the dough leaving a 1/4 inch space between them. The dough should now look like an open book!
- Now fold one side over the other – like you are closing a book The Second turn is done! Wrap and refrigerate the dough for an hour.
- Roll out the dough into a 20 by 12-inch rectangle again. Repeat the letter fold turn. Your Danish dough is now ready to be shaped (my favorite part of the process!). Wrap the dough with plastic and pop it into the fridge till you prepare the cream cheese filling.
Cream Cheese Filling
- 8 oz. cream cheese (room temp.)
- 6 Tbl. sugar (2 1/2 oz.)
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 1/2 tbl. All purpose flour
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine all the ingredients until smooth, using a food processor. You can make the filling ahead and keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Shaping the dough
The most beautiful Danish shapes here. Joe’s step by step instructions with pictures are an excellent guide and I had so much fun shaping the dough!
Putting everything together
- Finally, we are now ready to put everything together! Dollop 1 tbl. of cream cheese filling in the center of each Danish.
- For the strawberry cream cheese version, place some pieces of quartered strawberries on top of the cream cheese. For a lemony version, add a few drops of fresh lemon juice to the cream cheese and mix. Then place the filling in the center like before.
- Place completed danish on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm (but not to warm) spot until doubled in size. This should take about an hour. It should feel like a marshmallow to the touch.
- Preheat the oven to 400*F and place the rack in the center. Freeze the Danish for 10 minutes (or the refrigerator for 15 minutes). With a pastry brush, brush the danish with an egg wash (1 egg/1 yolk whisked together)
- Bake one sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, for 14-16 minutes, until deep golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and immediately brush with apricot glaze (apricot jam gently warmed with a bit of water).
- Cool completely then dust with confectioner’s sugar just before serving.
And now, for the most anticipated step, bite into a freshly baked Danish and be amazed!!