I made my first batch of danish in more than 23 years for our monthly FBLA meeting. When I had Bakers’ Dozen, my bakery in Stowe, I made a minimum of one batch of 45 large danishes every day. The finished dough weighed close to ten pounds. I would begin the process in the afternoon making the dough, resting it, cutting the butter so it created a pad, incasing the butter within the dough and then the first turn, an hour or so later the second turn. The next morning the final turn would create the finished product–cinnamon raisin, apple, cherry, cherry cheese and blueberry danishes. I didn’t stop there croissants, three types of bread followed in quick procession. No wonder I was such a skinny thing.
It’s funny how the body has muscle memory. I found myself doing the same exact steps with absolutely no thought, I just did them. I quickly got into “the zone”, where my body worked and my mind was free to wonder. As I rolled out the dough on it’s first turn I was overwhelmed with the memory of my dad and the quirky, archaic sayings that peppered his conversations. I remember him sitting at the dining room table telling us how his day started at a diner where, “I always order a coffee and…”. (Please note the proper pronunciation of this phrase “I aw-ways order a caw-fe and” we’re talking Jersey now) I could see him in his g-man finest: ill fitted suit that hid the gun on his belt, hat pushed back and slightly askew, ordering his coffee and… “And what?” I would ask. Well that could be whatever the diner right below his building had that day–donut, bagel or a danish. So as I rolled and turned the dough for the danish I had the warmest feeling within me. Maybe that’s why they tasted so good.
Danish Dough (from 1990 Gourmet recipe )
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 yolks
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup milk
- 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 3 sticks of butter cut into bits.
- 1 cup raisins (approximately)
- 1/2 cup apricot jam
Pastry Cream (from a piece of paper stuck in a cook book)
- 1/2 sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups of milk
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- In bowl of stand mixer dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water.
- When yeast blooms or looks like its foamed add sugar, yolks, vanilla and milk.
- Add flour and mix until somewhat sticky dough forms.
- Remove from bowl and wrap in plastic wrap to rest for at least one hour.
- In the meantime cut each stick of butter into four slices lengthwise to create a square.
- Give it a tab with rolling pin to make into level piece. You’ll like this ceremonial pounding of the butter.
- Wrap in plastic and chill for half hour. Just enough time to make the pastry cream for the cinnamon danish.
- Scald milk in 2 quart sauce pan.
- Add eggs, sugar, flour and corn starch in a bowl of a mixer with wire whisk attachment. Whip the eggs until they turn a light color and when whisk is removed a ribbon pattern forms. I find that the more volume the eggs have the quicker they cook. One can’t over do this step.
- Add a little of the hot milk to the egg mixture, stir. Add a bit more then combine the all ingredients into the sauce pan.
- Place on medium heat and stir constantly until the mixture thickens.
- Add butter and vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure that the wrap is directly on the pastry cream so a skin doesn’t form. Chill until you need it, the next day.
- Take the dough out and place on a well floured work surface. Stretch and roll to a crude clover shape. And place chilled butter on top.
- Fold the bottom flap so it covers the butter.
- Fold left flap so it goes half way across.
- Fold right side so it meets the left flap in the middle.
- Fold the top flap so it covers the entire bottom.
- Flip over so the seam side is on the work surface.
- Roll until about 20 to 24 inches.
- Fold right end so it goes a third of the way of the dough.
- Fold the left side over that. Roll out plastic wrap into a cross and place dough in middle wrap and refrigerate. Congrats you just completed your first turn! Now you just have to repeat the rolling and folding one more time. The dough should rest at least two hours between turns. When rolling the dough for a turn roll from open end to open end or in the picture above from right to left. I like to do a turn the night before and do the final turn in the morning before I bake.
- Final roll. Roll out the dough to a 20 by 28 inch strip. For the best results, roll, rest, roll rest. Remember dough shrinks so roll the piece out a bit larger than needed because it will snap back.
- Spread pastry cream over the surface of the dough.
- Sprinkle with an even layer of cinnamon. Sprinkle with an even scattering of raisins.
- Starting from the top of the dough roll the dough into a log. Cut into 3/4 to 1 inch pieces and place on parchment lined half sheet pans.
- Cover with plastic and proof or rise for one hour. To test if dough is ready, poke your finger in the side, if the indent stays they are ready.
- Bake in 375 oven for 10- 20 minutes.
- While danish bake, heat the apricot jam in small sauce pan with a splash of water until melted and smooth.
- When danish are done brush with light coating of jam.
Cathy @ She Paused 4 Thought says
These are so amazingly good. I enjoyed every bite. I might even be brave enough to try and make these.
Oh my gawd. You waited until I was out of town for these? Whazzup with THAT, girlfriend?
Judy at Two Broads Abroad says
When we return you will have many on your doorstep.