Apple, both equally delicious!
Danish Pastries, with their layer upon layer of rich butter pastry which flakes, crumbles and almost melts whilst it's enjoyed are perfect for those indulgent breakfasts, lazy brunches and tantalising teatime treats.
These butter rich, cholesterol boosting, cardiac inducing Danish Pastries are a first for me, having never made them before. But knowing how delicious they are with that wonderful flaky pastry and having watched the home-bakers attempt them in the GBBO tent this past week I knew that I wanted to challenge myself in making them, along with the classic Bakewell Tart.
It always amazes me that delicious foods, like Danish Pastries, can be made with a few store cupboard ingredients of flour, butter, sugar and yeast. Once topped with your favourite flavours - fruits, nuts, spices - and shaped in whichever way you fancy, you have a beautiful bake which everybody is sure to love.
There are a host of different shapes you can aim for when folding your Danish Pastries: spirals, pinwheels, flowers, diamonds, amongst others. There are so many to choose from to suit your personality, mood and the flavours you're intending on filling them with. Being new to shaping Danish Pastries I carried out a quick search on the net and came across a few YouTube channels which were helpful in showing just how it's done, and I'd link to one here.......but having started enjoying making my own videos (this is only the second one so be kind 😉 ) I've pulled together a few clips showing how easy it is to shape a diamond and flower danish pastry! More of that later!
As you may well know, Danish Pastries are made with a dough containing yeast. This is kneaded as we would with a bread dough before it is rested, knocked-back and rolled out ready to start the rolling, folding and chilling routine with a block of butter incorporated within! Now having already carried out a small comparison in my Side-by-Side Baking series which compared the flavour brought to a bake by different butters, I was aware that I needed to purchase the best quality butter we could afford to achieve a delicious flavour in the pastry. The butter I opted to use was President, a French butter which faired well in my small comparison and happened to be on offer at our local supermarket, being sold at only a pound! However, when reading one of Paul Hollywood's books, Bread, he recommended using Normandy in this Danish Pastries as it has a higher melting point. Although I didn't use the one recommended by the silver fox himself, I didn't notice any evidence of our butter melting out leaving dry, spoilt pastries - on the contrary, our pastries were still very much flavoursome and moreish.
Now, the remaining bakers in the tent were challenged with making 24 Danish Pastries, in two flavours. But being a household of just eight legs, four of which belonging to our fur baby, Mr E & I had no call for 24 pastries and so we made twelve of these delicious treats, in two flavour combinations.
Our first batch was Fig, Goats' Cheese and Honey housed in a diamond shaped Danish Pastry. It saw the halved fig positioned in the centre of the diamond on a bed of soft goats' cheese which had been sweetened with runny honey. Once baked they were then lightly glazed (though the icing is difficult to see as I applied it whist the pastries were still a little warm due to the hastening loss of daylight and therefore photograph potential) with a water icing which also contained some runny honey.
Our second batch of Danish Pastries were flavoured with another seasonal favourite: Blackberry & Apple. The pastry was folded in the beautiful flower shape, a shape which really appeals to me. A spoonful of cinnamon spiced apple puree was placed in the centre of the shaped 'flower' before being topped with a blackberry. These were glazed with a sugar solution as soon as they emerged from the oven.
As for the result? Well, I have to admit I was pretty happy with how well they puffed up and exposed their laminations, especially those containing the figs. Both flavour combinations were absolutely delicious in the laminated pastry, though the one we preferred, by a whisker, was the Blackberry and Apple Danish Pastries.
And if you fancy watching how these delicious Danish Pastries are shaped, just check out my video!
Let's get to it and baaaaake!
Danish Pastries: Fig, Goats' Cheese & Honey and Blackberry & Apple
For the dough
- 500 g strong white bread flour
- 7 g salt
- 80 g caster sugar
- 10 g fast action dried yeast
- 260 ml milk lukewarm
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 250 g butter unsalted & chilled
For the Blackberry & Apple Danish Pastry
- 1 Bramley apple
- 2.5 tsp sugar or to taste
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 6 fresh blackberries
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp boiling water
For the Fig, Goats' Cheese and Honey Danish Pastry
- 60 g soft goats' cheese
- 1 tsp runny honey or to taste
- 3 fresh figs halved
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- 1-2 tsp runny honey
- For assembling
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
Make the dough.
- Place the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into a good sized bowl. Avoid letting the yeast touch the salt at this stage. Combine with your hands. Make a well in the flour. Add the egg and most of the warmed milk. With your hand mix the flour into the liquid aiming to make a dough. Add more liquid as required. Once all of the flour has been picked up with the dough, and the bowl is 'clean', place the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and soft.
- Rest the dough. Place the dough into the bowl and cover with cling film. Place into the fridge to rest for at least 2 hours.
- Meanwhile shape the butter. Sandwich it between two large sheets of greaseproof paper. Use a rolling pin to knock and roll the butter into a neat oblong measuring about 30cm x 15cm. Transfer the butter, still sandwiched between the greaseproof paper, onto a board / baking tray and place it in the fridge for at least 2 hours to firm up.
- Incorporate the butter into the dough. Remove the dough from the fridge. Tip it onto a lightly floured work surface. Punch it back with your knuckles. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a neat rectangle about 50cm x 20cm. Place the chilled butter over the bottom two thirds of the dough. Fold the top unbuttered third down and lay it over the top section of the butter. Fold the bottom third of dough and butter up over the top, creating a sandwich of alternate layers of dough and butter. Nip the sides of the dough to encase the butter. Wrap the butter in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes. Position the dough back onto the work surface in the same orientation that it was folded in. Give the dough a quarter turn. Roll out the dough into a neat rectangle measuring about 50cm x 30cm. Fold the dough as before. Give the dough a quarter turn. Indent the side of the dough with your thumb to indicate one turn has been made. Wrap and chill the dough for 30 minutes. Carry out two more cycles of rolling, folding and chilling.
- Chill the folded dough. After the third turn loosely wrap the dough in clingfilm. Place into the fridge overnight to rest (at least 8 hours).
For the apple & blackberry pastries
- Peel and chop the apple (removing the core) and place into a small pan with the sugar and cinnamon. Add a splash of water. Set over a low to medium heat on the hob and allow to cook down to a puree, stirring periodically. Add a little more water if required, but you're aiming for the apple puree to be quite thick. Transfer the puree into a bowl and set aside to cool.
- Shape the pastry into a flower for the apple & blackberry filling. In one of the pastry squares cut an 'L' shape 1cm from the corner, so that it run parallel to the edge of the pastry. Repeat with the other 3 corners. Avoid letting the four 'L' shapes join up along the lengths of the square. Use a pastry brush to gently paint the pastry with egg wash. Fold each cut corner into the centre of the pastry and gently press to secure. Add a teaspoon of the apple puree into the centre of each shaped 'flower'. Top with a blackberry. Gently brush the egg wash over the pastry, aiming to avoid it touching the laminations. Use a fish slice to transfer it to a large baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Repeat with 5 more pastry squares. Set them aside, uncovered, for 30 minutes to prove.
For the Fig and goats cheese pastries
- Place the soft goats' cheese into a small bowl. Break up the cheese. Add the runny honey and mix together. Taste, adding more honey if desired.8. Roll out the dough. Remove the dough from the fridge and set on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out into an oblong measuring about 32cm x 42cm. Use a knife or pizza cutter to trim the edges to neaten. Cut the dough into 12 squares measuring 10cm x 10cm.
- Shape the pastry into a diamond for the fig & goats' cheese filling. Gently fold one of the squares in half to make a triangle. Identify the corner still at 90 degree. A centimetre or two from that corner use a small sharp knife to cut a neat line through the dough which runs parallel to the edge of the triangle. Repeat with the other edge of the triangle. The pastry should still be joined at the 90 degree corner. Open the dough back out to a square. Use a pastry brush to paint a little of the beaten egg over the upper surface of the pastry. Fold one of the cut corners into the pastry, positioning it along the new internal square. press gently to secure. Repeat with the opposite corner. Place a teaspoon of the goats' cheese mixture in the centre of the diamond. Top with half a fig - cut side uppermost. Gently brush the egg wash over the pastry, aiming to avoid it touching the laminations. Use a fish slice to transfer it to a large baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Repeat with 5 more pastry squares. Set them aside, uncovered, for 30 minutes to prove.
- Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 200c / 180 Fan / Gas Bake. Once proved, place the baking tray in the centre of the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until they are crisp golden and well risen. The base of the pastry will also be golden brown. You may need to rotate the tray after about 15 minutes of cooking. Once cooked remove from the oven. Use a fish slice to carefully transfer them to a cooling rack.
- Meanwhile make the glazes. For for the Apple and Blackberry pastries, mix the sugar with the boiling water. Stir to dissolve the sugar. For the Fig & Goats' Cheese pastries make a slightly loose water icing by mixing together the icing sugar with the honey and a drop of water.
- Apply the glazes. With a pastry brush paint the sugar solution over the pastry of the Blackberry & Apple Danish Pastries (avoiding the fruit) as soon as they are removed from the oven. Place back into the oven for 2 minutes for the glaze to dry. Place on the cooling tray. Once the Fig & Goats' Cheese Danish Pastries are cooked through, allow them to cool fully before dribbling over the honey flavoured water icing.Enjoy!