Danish Pastries: The Real Deal (Part II)
Jan. 27, 2009 2:34 pm
Updated: Feb. 2, 2009 2:37 pm
I did a 3-fold, a 4-fold, and another 3-fold with this dough. You could probably get away with three 3-folds; the "book fold" is hard when you're rolling out the dough by hand, since the dough stack gets so thick. (Working at a bakery with a commercial sheeter is a treat—it makes very quick work of the whole process.) See the photo below: leave a little space between the two folds for the "spine" of the book, as the two sides will meet once you fold the halves together.
Like I said in my previous post, it was 1 AM by the time I finished shaping the pastries, so my photo-taking kind of fell by the wayside. I only used half the recipe of dough for the brunch pastries (it was about 5# total) and finished up the rest the next day; I still have to upload those photos to show how to make the diamond shape.
Because the braid needs to be filled before the dough proofs, I fill it the night before I'm going to bake it. For the individual shapes, I cut the squares and shape the dough the night before, keep them overnight in the fridge, and then fill them after the dough has proofed the next day.
- To make the Danish braid, I roll out a strip of dough about 8–10 inches wide and the length of my sheet pan. Use the edge of your hand or a bowl scraper to make a very light impression in the dough to divide it in thirds lengthwise: the filling will go in the middle section, while the sides get cut into strips.
- Use a sharp paring knife or pizza wheel to cut the dough into angled strips. Brush with egg wash. Once you've added your desired filling, you'll alternate "weaving" the strips across the filling, pressing the ends down to seal.
(Continued in Part III: making individual Danish, plus the recipes I used.)
- At all stages, the dough should be wrapped well with plastic before you put it in the refrigerator or it will dry out. If you've brushed your shaped pastry with egg wash, cover it lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- About two hours before you plan to bake the pastries, take them out of the fridge and let them rise. I got up at 5 AM, pulled out my two trays, and went back to bed. At 7 AM, they were nicely puffed—just squishy to the touch, not doubled, like bread dough or cinnamon rolls.
- Fill the Danish, brush with egg wash, and garnish with pearl sugar or other coarse decorative sugar. Use the egg wash sparingly—you just want to encourage browning, not shellac the layers together on the sides of the pastry.
- Bake at 400° until deep golden brown, checking after about ten minutes or so, rotating the trays in the oven if necessary.
The first 3-fold: fold the dough like a business letter.
Dough rolled out for 4-fold - roll it out as long as you can
Book fold (4-fold): leave a little space between the two folds for the "spine" of the book.
Layers in dough
Assembling Danish braid - pastry cream
Danish braid - mixed berry filling
Baked Danish braid
Cheese and Apricot Danish