The first time I made Danish pastry was two years ago, and I swore I’d never do it again. It’s not difficult to do, but it’s just a helluva lot of work. And waiting around. Bread cookbooks always say that you can fit your bread making into your schedule and I agree with that… I think. I’m just so darn impatient is all.
But if you’re in the right mood, making your own Danish pastry is its own reward. I was surprised by the complexity and richness of the Danish(es) I made. Almost as good as the ones in the best hotel breakfast buffets. (woohoo!)
Danish pastry is what’s called by professional bakers as a “laminated dough” ”“ flaky layers are achieved from the folding and turning of the dough. The dough is also kept chilled so that the pockets of butter remain solid ”“ once they’re in the oven, they melt and the steam generated by the layers of dough bakes up into a flaky pastry. This procedure is similar to the one used in making croissants and puff pastry.
Danishes are most commonly eaten for breakfast and are shaped and filled in a myriad of ways. I chose to shape my dough into a Danish braid and individual pinwheel pastries. The Danish braid looks more difficult than it really is. All I did was to mark the dough into three parts, then I slashed the two outermost sections into 1-inch intervals. (see photo). Then the slashes are folded over the center alternately to form a “braid.”
The filling for my pastries was almond paste that I made some time ago. Slightly coarser than marzipan, almond paste is a mixture of blanched, crushed almonds; egg white, and sugar (and it’s not available in Manila — for shame!). To the almond paste I added a dollop of either strawberry or guava jelly. After all that work and almost 12 hours of preparation, thank God these pastries only require a 15- minute baking time. The result, according to my best friend Bal, is “uber-good.”