This week I take on my toughest baking challenge yet. Danish pastries. They’re tricky, they’re time consuming and most definitely a labour of love. But my oh my are they rewarding! This recipe (adapted from Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake) makes 24 pastries which I have split into two batches. Half chocolate chip & the other half apricot and lemon. The ingredients I have given reflect this. If however, you want to make the whole batch as one flavour, simply double the filling & icing ingredients. Right, onwards and upwards!
For the Pastry Dough
- 500g Strong White Bread Flour
- 10g Salt
- 80g Caster Sugar
- 10g Instant Yeast
- 2 Medium Sized Eggs
- 90ml Water, Cool
- 125ml Full Fat Milk, Tepid
- 250g Unsalted Butter, Cold
For The Creme Patissiere
- 50g Caster Sugar
- 2 Medium Sized Egg Yolks
- 20g Cornflour
- 250ml Full Fat Milk
- 1 Vanilla Pod
- 20g Unsalted Butter
For The Glaze
- 1 Egg, Beaten
- 150g Apricot Jam
- 2-3 tbsp Water
For The Chocolate Chip Filling & Icing (Enough for x 12)
- 50g Milk Chocolate Chips
- 50g Dark Chocolate Chips
- 100g Icing Sugar
- 1 tbsp Water
For The Apricot & Lemon Filling & Icing (Enough for x 12)
- 100g Dried Apricots, Chopped
- 100g Icing Sugar
- 1 tbsp Water
- Zest of 1 Lemon
- LOTS of Patience & Time!
Ok let’s get started with the dough. Ideally you do need an electric stand mixer as it is a very wet/sticky dough to start with.
Put the flour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add the salt & sugar to one side and the yeast to the opposite.
Beat together the eggs, water and milk.
TIP! If it’s too cold, pour into a saucepan over a very low heat, stirring constantly until it is tepid. (Meaning, if you can’t tell whether it’s hot or cold, it’s tepid.)
Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix on a low speed for 2 minutes until all the ingredients are mixed together.
Then mix on a medium speed for a further 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, take the block of cold butter and bash it with a rolling pin until it is a rectangular sheet measuring approx 33 x 19cm. Wrap in clingfilm and place back into the fridge to solidify whilst the dough is still resting.
Once the hour is up, take the dough out of the fridge and roll to a rectangle measuring approx 50 x 20cm. (About 1cm thick.)
When the hour is up, remove the chilled dough and place on a lightly floured surface with the short side towards you.
Roll out into a rectangle the same size as before. (about 50 x 20cm.)
After this, dust lightly all over with flour, place back in the bag and rest in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight. Then your dough will finally be ready to use!
Tic toc tic toc…
Whilst time is ticking on, make the creme patissiere.
Whisk the sugar, egg yolks & cornflour together in a bowl until smooth then set to one side.
Bring it to the boil then remove from the heat.
Once this happens, immediately remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir for a minute so it doesn’t catch on the bottom.
Spread it over a baking sheet and cover with cling film, making sure the film actually touches the surface of the creme patissiere. This will stop a skin from forming. Place in the fridge until needed.
VERY IMPORTANT! With laminated (layered) doughs/pastries, never roll it up into a ball and roll out as you will lose all those beautiful layers you’ve spent so long putting in.
Halve the dough and roll out one of them to a rectangle with a long side towards you. Spread half of the creme patissiere over it leaving a clear 5cm margin on the long edge nearest to you. (I made a mistake here and didn’t leave enough room. Making it difficult for myself to roll as you can see in the photos below.)
Take the top edge and carefully roll it over. Continue to roll towards you, pulling away from you a little each time to create a little tension. When you have reached the tacked edge, gently roll the dough backwards & forwards to seal the join.
Trim the edges then cut the roll into 12 even portions.
(Again, I made a mistake and only cut 6 like a plonker! I rectified it later but it was far more difficult than if I had just cut 12 at this stage. It also made them a little misshapen. Doh!)
About 30 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C.
Brush the pastries all over with the beaten egg then bake for about 15-20 minutes until a deep golden brown on top. Turn the trays round halfway if necessary to ensure an even bake.
While the pastries are baking, Warm the apricot jam in a saucepan with a little water to make a thin, runny glaze.
For the chocolate icing, simply put the icing sugar in a bowl or jug, add the water and mix until it becomes smooth and thick.
For the lemon icing (to go on the apricot pastries) put the icing sugar in a bowl or jug, add the water and the grated zest of 1 lemon and mix until it becomes smooth and thick.
All that is left for us to do now is to drizzle the icings over the pastries in a ‘haphazard’ manor and allow it to set.
Ok, so it’s taken pretty much 2 days to make them, the list of ingredients is as long as my arm and they were pretty fiddly to make. But look at them. Look at that beautiful golden shine, those gorgeous pockets of apricots and melted chocolate chips… all finished with a beautiful drizzling of runny icing. Wasn’t it all worth it? I guarantee they will taste better than any of those horrifically dry pastries you get at the supermarkets. They somehow never fail to disappoint me. But these babies, particularly on the day of baking, are absolutely divine! They’re moist, oozingly sticky & just down right fantastic!
I hope this wasn’t too long a read for you all!
Until next time lovelies.