December 2, 2013

Danish Pastries

I've always wanted to bake danish pastries. It's been on my to-bake list ever since, well, I embarked on my baking adventure when I first started this blog. It also turns out that my mother, who has been eating danish pastries as a child, had cravings for these and personally requested them. Which is completely fine by me, as I have no memory of making them let alone eating them before. But I can say it was the perfect opportunity to try them out since I have been procrastinating due to the knowledge that danish pastries involve essentially repeatedly rolling, folding, turning and chilling for the laminating of the butter process which can take AGES for me. Then there's the proving of the shaped dough for about an hour before being baked in the oven until puffed and golden.

For some reason I managed to over-bake the pastries and turned the small pieces of dough into crunchy butter biscuits instead of fluffy pastry. But rest assured, I was able to salvage the larger pastries and devour them with pleasure. I actually made a test batch of these pastries for tasting and thought they were plain and flavourless. Maybe because it was the cheap, low quality unsalted butter I used. Or maybe because it was the lack of salted butter. Nonetheless, I folded another layer of salted butter into the dough and thankfully, its flavour improved vastly. However my limited pastry skills were demonstrated in the lack of precision and some pastries turned out a bit messier than intended. Also blame the fact that the pastry kept melting for some explicable reason even the weather was not hot. Despite these mishaps, they came out delicious straight from the oven, especially when they're warm.

I whipped up a cream cheese filling for the pastries and topped them with some cherries. If you've read my past posts, cherries have become a common presence recently, and this is just another good way to use them up. Funnily I initially made a pastry cream, or in fancy French words, "creme patissiere" but I added to much milk because I thought it was too thick. Oops. Anyhow, go to this great website  for a guide in shaping danish pastries and the recipe for the cream cheese filling just because I'm too lazy to copy everything on here. However, the recipe for the danish pastries and optional pastry cream is posted below. Enjoy!    

Danish Pastries

Adapted from the cookbook, Essential Baking.
Makes about 12 pastries.


For the Danish pastries,
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) warm milk
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (250 g) plain (all-purpose) flour or strong bread flour
  • 1/4 cup (55 g) caster sugar, extra
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 125 g each of salted and unsalted butter, chilled (total 250 g butter)
For the pastry cream filling (optional) or use the cream cheese filling, recipe here.

  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) hot milk 


  1. Stir the yeast, milk and sugar in a small bowl until dissolved. Leave in a warm place for 10 minutes until frothy and slightly increased in volume.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl and add salt and extra sugar.
  3. Make a well into the center and add the yeast, egg and vanilla. Mix until it forms a firm dough or alternatively use the dough hook attachment of an electric mixer to combine the ingredients together.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes to form a smooth, elastic dough.
  5. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover and set aside in a warm place for 1 hour, until doubled in size.
  6. Meanwhile, roll and shape the two butters together between two sheets of cling wrap into a 15 x 20 cm rectangle and refrigerate.
  7. Knock back the dough in one punch and knead for 1 minute. Roll the dough out to a rectangle of 25 x 30 cm. Put the butter in the center of the dough and fold up the bottom and top of the dough over the butter to join in the center like a letter.
  8. Give the dough a quarter-turn clockwise, roll out to a 20 x 45 cm rectangle. Fold over the top third of pastry, then bottom third and give another quarter-turn clockwise. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Repeat the rolling, folding, turning and chilling four more times. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least another 2 hours.
  9. For the pastry cream, put the sugar, egg yolks and flours in a saucepan and whisk to combine. Pour the hot milk over the top and whisk until smooth. Bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens. Cover and refrigerate to cool.
  10. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F) and line two baking trays with baking paper. 
  11. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle 3 mm thick. Cut 4 inch squares and shape into desired shapes, demonstrated here and place on prepared baking trays. Cover the shaped pastries and leave in a warm place to prove from 30 minutes to an hour until puffed and doubled in size.
  12. Fill each Danish pastry with about 1 tablespoon filling and top with jam, fruit or berries. Brush with egg wash (1 egg and 1 tablespoon water). Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden. Cool on wire racks and serve warm. 

December 1, 2013

Cherry Miroir

Miroir- translating from French to English is "Mirror" if you haven't figured that out already. And here I am with yet another recipe featuring cherries as one of the prominent stars of the dessert. Mind you, I've been given the task of finding a dessert that would use up most of the rapidly aging cherries, which means a lot of head scratching and confused looks. Although I am aware of the classics such as Cherry Clafoutis, Cherry Blondies and so on, I felt uninspired as I craved something a little more, let's say modern and different from what I usually make. That's when I turned to my trusty cookbook, Essentials Desserts, and landed on this recipe.

I've made several adaptions to this recipe: two, to be exact. Firstly, the Miroir is actually made with raspberries, but since cherries were all I had on hand, I figured that it should be a suitable substitute. Secondly, the dessert is usually made circular in a cake pan, but since my square cake pan was desperate for use, I technically turned this into a slice rather than a cake, if you know what I mean. I also found that the sponge base was very thin and delicate, so I doubled the ingredients from the book in the recipe below.

And after a whole day of pitting and pureeing cherries, which in turn sprayed cherry juice everywhere, including on my poor cat, the Miroir was finally complete in one piece. Not only have I spent copious amounts of time perfecting each layer, consisting of the sponge cake base, cherry mousse and cherry jelly topping, but the time it takes for each layer to set and the whole thing to set overnight in the fridge makes it seem like a massive task for the average baker. But hard work does eventually pay off, right? It certainly did for me as I tried a slice, feeling its light texture like a cloud disintegrate in my mouth. Its silkiness brought about a refreshing quality to the slice, especially since the jelly topping is essentially cherry puree. Overall, its a nice summer dessert that features a modern twist on a classic.

Cherry Miroir

Adapted from the Essential Desserts cookbook


Sponge base
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 4 tablespoons self-raising flour
  • 2 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
Cherry mousse
  • 500 g fresh cherries, pitted
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup (125 g) caster sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons powdered gelatin
  • 1 cup pouring (whipping) cream
Cherry topping
  • 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) cherry puree


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly grease an 8 inch square cake pan (removable base) and line base with baking paper.

2. For the sponge base, whisk eggs and sugar with an electric mixer for 5 minutes, until thick and fluffy. Sift the flours together, and then fold into the egg mixture with a rubber spatula. Spread evenly into the prepared tin using a small palette knife and bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned and shrunk slightly away from the edge of the pan. Remove from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack.

3. For the cherry mousse, blend the pitted cherries in batches until smooth and press through a plastic strainer to achieve a smooth puree. Reserve 1/2 cup puree for the topping. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl for 5 minutes, until thick and pale. Bring the milk to the boil and gradually pour into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir for about 10 minutes, until it coats the back of a spoon. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour to cool completely. The custard and cherries are shown below:

4. Sprinkle the gelatin in an even layer over 1/4 cup of water in a small heatproof bowl and leave to go spongy. Put a large saucepan with about 4 cm water on to boil. Carefully lower the gelatin bowl into the water and stir until dissolved. Stir the slightly cooled gelatin and cherry puree into the custard mixture, then refrigerate for 30 minutes until thick not set, stirring occasionally. Whisk the cream until soft peaks form and fold into the cherry mixture until incorporated. Place the sponge in the base of the prepared pan and pour the cherry mixture evenly over the top. Refrigerate for 4 hours, or until firm.

5. For the cherry topping, sprinkle the gelatin in an even layer over 1/3 cup water in a heatproof bowl and leave to go spongy. Put a large pan filled with 4 cm water on to boil. Carefully lower the gelatin bowl into the water and stir until dissolved. After slightly cooled, stir in reserved cherry puree and pour evenly over the set mousse, then refrigerate for 30 minutes until set.

Slice into small pieces with a knife dipped in hot water. Top with fresh cherries, dust with a little icing sugar if desired and serve with cream.

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