Every morning when I arrive home from my early 5 AM run, my husband has a cup of coffee and a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice waiting for me; so when he declared danishes were what he wanted for his breakfast, I felt compelled to grant his wish. Unlike the croissant, danishes can actually be prepped and baked in the same day (an early morning start helps).
I realize most people would find it chauvinist to allow my family to dictate their breakfast menu, but my daughter works besides me and DF, my husband, is the most giving and considerate partner. I love to bake pastries and DF loves to eat pastries; it truly is a perfect fit. Besides breakfast on the patio in Colorado mid May is breathtaking and an assortment of danishes seemed atropros. I must admit I adore starting off the day with my family eating breakfast together. Our lives are so complicated and fast paced, slowing down for an hour and just conversing over food reminds me of being in France.
What I love best about the dough for danishes is it is easier to work with and there are so many options for the design of the pastry: diamond, triangle, pinwheels, folded, etc. And just as many fillings.
One danish recipe could bake 48 danishes of which the style and favors are in your hands completely.
Danish with Almond Paste:
17 grams fresh yeast/ .6 0unces or 1 teaspoon dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
141 grams/ 5/8 –cup milk, whole, about 32ºC/ 95-100ºF
50 grams/1/4-cup sugar
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
1/8-teaspoon cardamom, optional
Pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
2 large eggs
28 grams/ 2- Tablespoons butter, soften
330 grams/ 2 ¾ -cup flour
226 grams/ 1-cup butter
20/2 tablespoons flour
If using dry yeast: proof the yeast with the milk, sugar, and yeast. Add the yeast to the warm milk and then the sugar allow it to sit for about 7 minutes.
If using fresh yeast:
a. Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in 61 grams (1/4 cup )90°F – 95°F milk
b. Add crumbled Cake Yeast to sugar solution.
c. Stir yeast until completely dissolved.
d. Let mixture stand until yeast begins to foam vigorously (5 – 10 minutes).
e. Add mixture to remaining ingredients.
In the bowl of your heavy-duty mixer add the yeast mixture, the flour, sugar, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, nutmeg, and cardamom (if using). Add remaining 81 grams of milk, eggs and soften butter, with the dough hook in place start kneading on low speed until all the dry ingredients are moisten. Continue on low (#2) for 4 additional minutes. The dough should be silky smooth and have cleaned the sides of the mixing bowl, but will stick to the bottom of the bowl, and be very soft. Lightly spray a dough bucket and a rubber spatula with butter cooking spray. Scrape the dough with the spatula pull out of the bowl and into the dough bucket, place the lid on the bucket (if using a large bowl cover with plastic film) and allow to proof at 26 degrees C/ 80 degrees F for about 30 minutes.
Using the sprayed spatula gently deflate the dough and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours.
Cube the butter into dice size pieces. I found the best way to combine the butter with the flour, is to place the cold cube butter and 30 grams of flour in the bowl of your standing mixer on low speed, with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and flour. Once the mixture is amalgamated shape into a 13 x 13 cm/ 5×5-inch square (no thicker 3/8 of inch). The butter should still be cool but workable- about 16 degrees C/ 60 degrees F. Use it right away, the temperature must be at 16 C/ 60F to laminate properly.
On a floured work surface roll the dough into 20-x20 cm/ 8×8-inch square. Place the barrage diagonally in the center of the détrempe, with the back of a knife mark the butter edges, remove the beurrage, roll out each of the corners into flaps. The dough will be slightly elastic. Moisten the flaps with a little water, replace the beurrage, lining up with the marks, and wrap the détrempe securely, stretching the flaps slightly.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes, no longer.
Shaping The Danish:
Flour your working surface again, place the dough seemed side down, and gently roll the pâton into a long rectangle 61xs0-cm/ 24x 8-inches. Bush off the flour from the surface and fold into thirds, resembling a business letter. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and mark 1 turn. Wrap the dough in plastic film and refrigerate for 20 to 40 minutes between each turns. Repeat the same process for a total of 3 turns, done in the same manner, after the 3rd turn rest the dough for 2 hours before rolling it.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut it in half. Work only one half at a time, placing the second half back in the refrigerator. Allow the dough your working with to rest 15 minutes before rolling. Flour your work surface and roll the dough to a rectangle 10×12-inches, gently move to a lined baking sheet, cover lightly, and rest the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes of resting flour your work surface and roll the dough to a 12×12-inches square and 1/8-inch thick. Use a bench scraper to keep the edges straight, if necessary use a pizza cutter to trim the edges to keep them straight.
125 grams almond paste
56 grams sugar
62 grams unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
1 egg, room temperature
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
15 grams cornstarch
In a food processor pulse the almond paste and sugar, until the almond paste is in fine particles. Add the butter turn the machine on and beat for 3 minute until incorporated and light. Scrape the side of the bowl. Pour the egg through the feeding tube, pulse till incorporated and add almond extract, vanilla and cornstarch pulse till incorporated to a soft cream.
Crème Frâiche Filling:
220 grams/1cup crème fraiche
50 grams1 large egg
100/½ cup sugar
10 grams cornstarch
Pearled sugar or Sanding sugar, optional
In a food processor add crème fraiche and egg together till combined. Then add sugar and cornstarch pulse until amalgamates.
123 grams/ ½ cup ricotta, whole
41 grams/ ¼-cup mascarpone
59 grams/ 1/4-cup, plus 2-teaspoons sugar
50 grams/ 1 large egg
1 lemon zested
In a food processor with the steel blade add ricotta cheese, crème frâiche, and sugar, pulse till the sugar is no longer visible. Add the egg, the lemon zest, and pulse about 9 times till the egg is completely combined.
50 grams/1 large egg white, beaten
15 grams/1-Tablespoon water
Beat the egg white and water together with a fork or a whisk.
180 grams/ 1/2-cups icing sugar
15 grams/ 1- Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped for seeds
Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl to a thin consistency. This is optional.
Prepare egg wash.
Using a Pastry cutter or a ruler and pizza cutter cut the dough into 4-inch squares. With a tablespoon ice cream scoop put a dollop of the almond filling into the center of each. (Variation: Place a scant tablespoon of crème frâche filling, and the cheese mixture, prepare any style of Danish, and place on baking sheet). Brush the danish with egg was and sprinkle with pearl sugar or sanding sugar. Bring the corners to the center of each envelope with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Arrange the envelopes on the baking sheet leaving 1/1/2 inches between each, proof for 1- 2 hours; they should double in size and almost be touching.
Preheat the oven to 205 degrees C/ 400 degrees F, twenty minutes prior to baking the danishes. Five minutes before cooking place a pan with 1-inch of boiling water into the oven on the lowest rack.
When the danishes are fully proofed spray the oven with a water bottle of water, 3 sprays, very quickly, close the oven, turn the temperature down to 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F, wait about 2 minutes open the oven, spray three more times, and place the baking sheets of danishes in the oven.
Take the envelopes and press the center of each to help adhere them, place in the oven reduce heat to 180 degrees C/ 350 degree F and bake for 18 to 20 minutes (internal temperature should register 94-99 degrees C/ 200-210 degrees F).
Cool on a cooling rack for about ten minutes and drizzle the glaze.
Danishes can be rolled, pin wheeled, twisted.