Tag Archives: Danish pastry

Danish Butter Cake


Danish Butter CakeAs promised, here is the Danish Butter Cake.  This is good any time of the day from breakfast as a coffeecake,  to evening as a dessert or, if you’re like us, any time of the day. How can you possibly go wrong with almond filling, pastry cream, remonce, and chocolate?  If you are not fond of almond paste, omit it from the remonce.

Last week I posted the Quick Danish Pastry and suggested you make the pastry cream.  If you did and thawed it Tuesday or, at the latest, Wednesday, you’re all set to make this extraordinary Danish Butter Cake. Continue reading

Quick Danish Pastry (Viennabrod)


Danish Butter CakeQuick Danish Pastry dough is based on the same technique  I found for making faster croissant, without sacrificing any quality.  I have used that method for all my laminated doughs including puff pastrycronuts, and Kouign Aman. This technique cuts way down on the time and it’s much easier to incorporate the butter without the dreaded breakthrough of butter when rolling out.

Bread flour is preferred for laminated doughs as it has more strength than all-purpose. It can rise higher and obtain a crispness that all-purpose doesn’t have.  See my blog, A Discussion of Laminated Doughs for more information.   Another preferred ingredient is American butter instead of European Butter.  American butter is not as soft as European butter and holds up much better when rolling and shaping.

Scandinavians are particularly fond of the spice, cardamom.  It comes as a seed and ground.  I use the ground and, because it is expensive, I keep it in the freezer and not in my spice cabinet.

The photo at the top of the page is the Danish Butter Cake which looks a lot better than the raw dough.  It is filled with everything wonderful – Danish pastry, remonce, pastry cream, and a bit of chocolate.  Definitely not your everyday coffeecake.

Next Week

Next week I will be posting a Danish Butter Cake which uses this pastry and pastry cream as well as remonce which includes100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces of almond paste.  This Danish Pastry, as well as the pastry cream, can be made ahead and frozen.  Just thaw for one or two days in the refrigerator.

I will be posting the cake next Thursday which gives you time to make the two items and buy the almond paste.  The rest of the ingredients are very common and most likely on your shelf.

Note about ingredients

One note:  You can substitute all-purpose flour if the only thing you will use the bread flour for is this recipe. The cardamom is optional but really good. You could also make one of these every week and use up the remainder of the bread flour!  Just a thought.

Quick Danish PastryIngredients for Danish Pastry

3/4 cup unsalted butter (170 grams, 6 ounces or 1 1/2 sticks)
2 1/4 cups bread flour* (315 grams or 11 ounces)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams or 1 3/4 ounces)
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (1 packet, 7 grams, 1/4 ounce)
3/4 teaspoon cardamom, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup milk, room temperature or slightly warmed
1 large egg

*All-purpose flour can be used but bread flour is preferred.

Cut the butter into small pieces and freeze.Butter cubed for Danish PastryPlace the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a processor.  Process about 5 seconds to mix.Dry ingredients in processor bowl

Whisk the egg, water, and milk together.  Liquids mixedPour it over the dry ingredients and process until the dough comes together into a ball. Liquids in processor for Quick Danish Pastry

Process for 30 seconds more until it balls up.

Dough processed

Knead by hand 5 or 6 times to smooth out.  Flatten into a disc about 1/2 inch thick.  Dough kneaded and shapedWrap in plastic wrap and freeze for about 2 hours or until it is frozen about an inch in from the edge. Do not freeze the entire disc.

Cut the dough into fourths. Cut each fourth into 3 pieces making 12 pie-shaped wedges of dough.Dough divided into 12 pieces

Place 4 wedges and 1/3 of the frozen butter into the processor bowl.Dough and butter in processor

Process until the dough and butter are cut into various size pieces no larger than the size of kidney beans.  Dough and butter processedPour onto a work surface.  Dough poured out onto work surfaceRepeat twice more with the remaining ingredients.

Push the dough into a rectangle, about 10″x6″.Dough pushed together

Dust the work surface with flour and roll the rectangle to about 6″ x 18″.First roll out

Brush any flour off the surface of the dough and fold the top and bottom to the center.  First foldFold the top down make a book turn.  The butter will look very ragged at this point.  That’s as it should be.  Finished foldTurn the dough package 90° with the seam on your right.Ninety degree turn

Scrape the work surface with a bench scraper and dust again with flour.  Repeat the rolling and folding of the dough twice more.  You can see how the butter in now incorporated and the finished dough is smooth and not raggey looking.Finished Danish pastry

Wrap in film and chill for several hours if using immediately or freeze, well wrapped up to a month.

Dough weights about 490 grams or about 17 1/5 ounces.

Stuffed (or Not) Kouign Amann


Kouign Amann

One of the best descriptions I’ve read of Kouign Amann comes from Chef Steps:  “These salty, buttery pastries hail from the coastal region of Brittany, in the northwest corner of France, where Celtic Breton tradition has prevailed since the great migration across the English Channel during the fifth and sixth centuries. It looks just like you might imagine a Celtic colony on the seacoast of France would: towering bluffs dropping straight into the sea; tiny stone houses dotting the emerald countryside; slate-colored steeples rising into the morning mist. The region is best known for its vast salt flats, where the coveted finishing salt, fleur de sel, is harvested. Here, tucked into wandering village streets, bakeries hawk this much-lauded pastry treasure, whose name literally means “butter cake” in Breton.”

Kouign Amann (pronounced Queen-ah-mann) belongs to the laminated dough family in baking. A croissant like yeast dough is layered with butter and coated with sugar to produce a crunchy, sweet, caramelized pastry that some say is a breakfast pastry and some say is dessert. I could eat them all day long and not care a wit about what time it is! Continue reading

A Discussion of Laminated Doughs


Kouign Aman for Laminated doughsIn the coming months, I am going to be featuring articles on laminated doughs.  While they have  a reputation for being difficult, the newer method of making them has taken a lot of the fear away.  It used to be that we were told there couldn’t be a single tear in the dough or the butter would all leak out or the layering of dough would suffer.  Well this easier method has the butter and detrempe or dough package cut up in little pieces, and then shoved together and rolled out.  No more worries.  This post will serve as a foreward to these individual posts.

Laminated dough refers to a baking technique in which many thin layers of dough, referred to as leaves, are separated by butter, as a consequence of repeated folding and rolling. There are different types of laminated doughs. Puff pastry, croissant, and Danish are the three original laminated doughs. Kouign Aman and cronuts are variations of one of those.

Croissant and Danish contain yeast, puff pastry does not. In addition, the initial dough or detrempe for Danish contains egg which the others don’t. A recent addition to laminated dough is the cronut which is basically doughnut dough that is laminated with butter. Kouign aman is a croissant type dough that is sugared when shaping producing a crackling caramel sugar coating. It can be filled or unfilled. I will blog about this one shortly. The photo that opens this blog is of the Kouign Aman.

Croissant or puff pastry can be savory as well as sweet.

Laminated doughs are often thought of as difficult or scary to attempt. Originally, lamination occurred when a lean dough (one with no or little fat) was rolled out and a butter block was encased in the dough. It was then rolled and folded several times to obtain a great number of thin layers of dough and butter. These are referred to as “turns”.

However recently, a much easier method is being used. I first introduced making puff pastry in a food processor in my first book, “The New Pastry Cook”. It was based on the Dutch system or  Scottish method of making puff pastry in a mixer which was introduced to America by Julia Child. Using a mixer allows you to use refrigerated cold butter. As a result, Julia cautioned not to use the processor for her method – and she was correct.

However, one simple change allows puff pastry or laminated doughs to be made in the processor. Freezing the butter and partially freezing the detrempe makes it possible to use the food processor. It has been interesting to see how many books and articles are now using this method or some variation of it. I was surprised to see the Culinary Institute of America’s “Baking & Pastry, Mastering the Art and Craft” now uses the Dutch system or Scottish method of making puff pastry in the mixer as opposed to the original butter block method which was always favored by pastry schools and professional pastry chefs.

There is another method of making puff pastry which is called inverse puff pastry. This is where the detrempe is on the inside and the butter is on the outside. There is an excellent article at http://www.chefeddy.com/2011/03/inverse-puff-pastry/.

Butter as used in Laminated Doughs
Butter is the preferred fat for incorporation because of its taste. However, any fat from lard to Crisco can be used, but isn’t suggested for reasons of taste. Vegetable shortening will give the highest rise and is used commercially in some ready to use puff pastry in supermarkets. But the lack of taste along with the coating it leaves in the mouth makes it undesireable.

It stands to reason that the higher the butter fat content the higher the laminated dough will rise when baked simply for the reason that the more fat there is, the more steam will be created as it melts  and releases its water in order to lift the dough. For this reason European butters such as Plugra, Kerry Gold and others are often recommended as they have an 82% butterfat content whereas most national brands of American butter contain 80% butterfat as mandated by congress.  I will be writing a post comparing the butters.

While yeast aids in lifting croissants, kouign aman, cronuts and Danish pastry, puff pastry is  completely dependant upon the steam produced by the water in the dough and in the melting butter to raise it.

Flour used in Laminated Doughs
Flours can vary depending upon what laminated dough you are making.  Generally speaking if the dough uses yeast, the flour is bread flour which has a high protein count making it possible for the item to retain its height while the heat sets it.

My recipe for puff pastry uses pastry flour that I make by combining all purpose and cake flour. However, I recently heard Paul Hollywood of The Great British Baking Show, mention that strong flour (bread flour in America) should be used.

However, Rose Levy Beranbaum in her book, “The Pie and Pastry Bible” thinks bread flour is not such a great idea for puff pastry.

Stay tuned for my butter and flour tests using European and American butters as well as the traditional pastry flour and bread flour.

Rolling out the Dough
There is a special rolling pin called a tutove for rolling out laminated doughs. However, I don’t make them often enough to worry about it. I use my marble rolling pin on my marble tabletop. Marble is the best surface because it stays cold which helps keep the butter cold. The least desireable surface is wood. However, just pop the laminated dough into the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes if it warms up too much.  Just keep it firm.

Originally puff pastry was rolled and folded in what was referred to as a single turn. That meant it was folded like a letter. The method I use is the double turn which means the dough is folded down from the top to the center and up from the bottom to the center, then folded in half at the center. This speeds up the process of rolling out and making turns. It is then turned 90° so the folded side is to the left for the next turn.

Resting the dough
During the rolling out and folding stage, the dough needs to be rested from time to time. While I have read it is because it springs back, I haven’t found that to be a problem with my method. The reason I rest it is to keep the butter solid. If the butter begins to soften you will roll it into the detrempe or onto the table and that is not what you want to do. The idea is to keep the butter between the sheets of the detrempe. So it is necessary, if using my method or anyone’s to keep the butter cold so it doesn’t mix with the dough or stick to the table.

Storing Laminated Doughs
When the dough is completed, it is best to leave it in the refrigerator overnight or up to several days. If not using it then, freeze it for up to a year for unyeasted doughs. Several months for yeasted doughs. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before using if frozen.  The product can also be made up and frozen then baked from the frozen stage.

Shaping the dough
Any laminated dough needs to be cut so the edges of the dough are not sealed or it won’t rise as dramatically. The dough needs to be cold to cut it. If it has just been rolled out, refrigerate or freeze briefly to firm up. When cutting use a sharp knife in an up and down motion. Do not drag the knife as that can seal the edges of the dough.

Also, if using cutters, do not twist them when cutting. Cut straight down and remove them straight up to keep the pastry from baking lopsided.  If you are unsure the cut has gone to the bottom, move the cutter side to side.

If you need to attach pieces of dough together, brush them with water and press them together lightly. I prefer this to egg as the egg can seal the pastry if it drips down but water won’t. I often glaze the finished product with an egg wash, but I don’t attach pieces with it.

Although scraps of laminated doughs will never reach the height of the original, they are still eminently useable. I usually piece mine together or stack them up, dust them lightly with flour and roll them out. If they soften, refrigerate them. Give them a turn, wrap them in film and refrigerate or freeze them.

Baking Sheets and Baking Temperatures
Light colored baking sheets lined with parchment paper should be used when baking laminated doughs. The high butter content can cause the items to burn fairly fast. Dark sheets brown more quickly and that is not what you want here. Also, I double pan all of the laminated doughs  to insure the bottom is not burned before the item is baked all the way through. I also bake on the middle rack of the oven to prevent burning the top which can happen if baked higher up in the oven.

Baking temperatures can be anywhere from 350°F to 425°F depending upon what is being baked. Some recipes, especially if the laminated dough is thick, start at a high temperature to get the maximum lift to the dough and then reduce the temperature to make sure it bakes all the way through. Follow the guidelines in the recipe.

When cutting laminated doughs to serve, use a serrated knife in a sawing motion to preserve the layers and not squash them. It is the exact opposite of cutting the dough before it is baked.

Research for this article came from the following:
The New Pastry Cook, Helen S. Fletcher
The Pie and Pastry Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum
Baking & Pastry, Mastering the Art and Craft, CIA