Danish Pastries are a recent addition to my baking repertoire, but after my success with croissants moving on to danish pastries was a natural progression. Again I turned to Paul Hollywood’s book ‘How to Bake‘ for advice on how to make a basic danish pastry dough and then I filled them with whatever I wanted. These particular ones are filled with vanilla creme patissiere, flaked almonds and dark chocolate chips. My favourite danish pastries are Pain aux Raisin, really just because I love the shape, so I opted to use the snail shaped swirl for these pastries too. They make take time to make but homemade croissants and danish pastries really are so much better than the ones you buy in the shop, the smell they fill your kitchen with when they are baking is also wonderful and the bonus is that you can add to them whatever you want. You can see my chocolate orange croissants here. Just be prepared as to how much butter both of these doughs really do use!
To make these Chocolate, Almond and Vanilla Danish Pastries you will need:
For the dough:
500g strong white bread flour
80g caster sugar
10g instant yeast
2 medium eggs
125ml warm whole milk
250g chilled, unsalted butter
For the filling:
100g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
500ml whole milk
1-2 tsp vanilla extract
40g unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate chips
100g flaked almonds
200g icing sugar
Start the dough the night before you plan to eat the pastries. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a bowl, mix together. Add the eggs, water and milk and mix until well combined. If making in a mixer leave on a medium speed for 6 minutes, if making by hand then knead the dough for up to 10 minutes. Chill the dough in the fridge for 1 hour.
After 1 hour remove the dough from the fridge and roll to a rectangle approx 50cmx20cm. Take the butter and flatten it with a rolling pin. You want to make it into a rectangle that will cover two thirds of the dough. You can sandwich the butter between 2 sheets of greaseproof paper and use the rolling pin to roll it out. Once the butter is flattened place it on top of the bottom two thirds of the dough, it should come almost to the edge. Fold the top third of dough over a third of the butter and then fold the bottom half up over the top. Pinch the edges and chill for 1 hour in the fridge.
After another hour take the dough out of the fridge and put on a floured surface. Have the short end towards you and roll the dough into a 50cmx20cm rectangle again. Fold up one third and then the other third. Chill for another hour. Repeat this twice more, chilling between each turn.
Now leave the dough in the fridge overnight to rise.
You can make your creme patissiere ahead of time too. Whisk together the sugar, egg yolks (discard the whites) and cornflour until smooth. Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the vanilla extract. Bring to the boil and then take off the heat. Pour a splash of this milk onto the egg mixture and whisk together then pour all of it into the milk and stir over a gentle heat. Stir until it becomes thick and then remove from the heat. If you have any lumps don’t worry, just pour the mixture through a sieve to smooth it out. Add the butter, stir in and then leave to cool and chill.
The next day it is time to put all of your hard work into actually making some danish pastries. Take the dough from the fridge and cut in half, you should be able to see lots of lovely layers.
Take one half and roll into a large rectangle with the long edge facing you. Spread the creme patissiere over the dough, leaving a couple of cm clear at the edge closest to you so it doesn’t leak out too much when you roll it. Sprinkle the flaked almonds and chocolate chips over the creme patissiere.
Roll the dough towards you, rolling as tight as you can. Cut the roll into slices approx 3cm thick and lay on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Repeat with the other half of the dough (you may wish to use a different filling for the second half of the dough – raisins and cranberries with some cinnamon work well sprinkled on the creme patissiere).
Leave the pastries in a warm spot for approx 2 hours, they should double in size.
Preheat the oven to 200C, brush the pastries with beaten egg and bake for 15-20 minutes until lovely and golden. While they are in the oven heat a couple of tablespoons of apricot jam and brush the pastries with it as soon as they come out of the oven.
To finish mix the icing sugar with a couple of tbsp water and drizzle over the pastries, sprinkle with flaked almonds and enjoy while still warm!