Thursday, 20 May 2010

A Quicker Danish!

Now that the warmer weather has hit, having a few quicker recipes on hand isn't such a bad thing. Better weather means guests more often here, our winters tend to keep people indoors. Suddenly I find myself trying to keep the place tidier, just in case.
What was fine in the winter seems in need of an upgrade now that people are dropping by more frequently. My dreams are filled with visions of upgraded appliances, sleek bathroom vanities, and perhaps a basement ceiling that isn't covered in sparkles. (Came that way, don't ask.)

Now don't get me wrong, in the winter I love making traditional Danish that take days... folding and refolding every hour... but in the summer the kitchen is hot and I have other things to do. Like lie on a lounger and read a book. Work on my Irish tan. (Which is to say, turn bright pink and then go back to white. Sigh.)

So I was happy when my friend Jamie shared a quicker version of the classic Danish pastry with me. Zipped up in the food processor and folded in a quicker fashion, the pastry isn't quite the same as a classic laminated dough but for the economy of time - it is quite delicious.

So if you drop by this summer, I might just be able to offer you a homemade (quick) Danish. If you can get past the guard dogs.

From Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess (and aren’t we all?)

¼ cup (65 ml) warm water
½ cup (125 ml) milk, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 ¼ cups (about 280 – 300 g) white bread flour
1 package (1/4 oz, about 8 g, 2 ¼ tsps) dry rapid-rise yeast
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
1 cup (16 Tbs, 225 g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into thin slices

Pour the water and milk into a measuring glass and add the egg, beating with a fork to mix. Set aside. Put the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in the food processor and give one quick buzz just to mix. Add the cold slices of butter and process briefly so that the butter is cut up a little though you do still want visible chunks. Empty the contents of the food processor into a large mixing bowl and quickly add the liquid contents of the measuring cup. Use your hands or a rubber spatula to fold the ingredients together, but don’t overdo it: expect to have a gooey mess with some butter lumps pebbling it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, put in the refrigerator and leave overnight or up to 4 days.

To turn it into pastry: take it out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it out to a 20-inch ( ) square. Fold the dough square into thirds, like a business letter, turning it so that the closed fold is on your left, like a book spine. Roll out again to a 20-inch square and repeat the steps above 3 times. Since the Danish recipe uses half of this, cut in half, wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or refrigerate one to use now and freeze the other half to use later.


1 cup ricotta cheese
6 Tbs sugar
Pinch of salt
1 Tbs lemon zesr
1 large egg, beaten
3 Tbs (45 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

Egg glaze:
1 large egg beaten with 2 Tbs milk

Combine the cheese, sugar, salt, lemon zest, egg and butter to make the filling.

Make the Danish Pastries:

Roll out the pastry into a large rectangle (she doesn’t say how big) and cut in half lengthwise. Cut each half into thirds and place a tablespoon of cheese filling in the center of each piece of dough. Fold the opposite corners up into the center and seal with a pinch.

Place on parchment-lined baking sheets and brush with the egg glaze. Let the rise until they are doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours; they should feel like marshmallow.

About 30 minutes before they’re ready to be baked, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Pinch the corners back together if they have become unsealed, then place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until puffy and golden brown.

Transfer them to a wire rack and let them cool just slightly before brushing with clear glaze (1/3 cup sugar + ¼ cup water brought to a boil in a small saucepan then removed from the heat) to make them shiny. *I omitted the glaze and drizzle

Once they are cooled you can drizzle with a sugar glaze (1/2 cup confectioner’s/powdered/icing sugar stirred with 1 – 2 Tbs warm water until you have a runny icing).

CHERRY FILLING: *I like this one best
From Carole Walter’s Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More

1 (24-oz, 680 g) jar of dark, sour cherries either in light syrup or water-packed, well drained, juice reserved
2 Tbs cornstarch
¼ cup (50 g) sugar
½ tsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp almond extract (optional)
1 Tbs (15 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

In a medium saucepan, combine 2/3 cup (150 ml) of the reserved cherry juice, the cornstarch and the sugar, stirring until no lumps remain. Place the pan over medium-low heat and allow the mixture to come to a boil, stirring gently until the mixture is very thick. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, the almond extract if using and the butter. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in the drained cherries.