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. 

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