Danish Pastries
Danish pastries come in a variety of shapes and with many fillings. In this Danish pastry recipe I show how to make the dough and give tips on freezing.
Makes: 20 small pastries
Ingredients
  • For the dough
  • 400 g (14 oz) strong white flour
  • 250 g (8 oz) unsalted butter
  • 250 ml (8 fl oz) milk
  • 4 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg (optional)
For Crème Pâtissière
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz) milk
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz) double (heavy whipping) cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 50 g (2 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 15 g (½ oz) plain flour
  • 1 vanilla pod
Instructions
  1. Add the yeast to the milk, stir and leave for 10 minutes for the yeast to activate.
  2. Sieve the flour into a bowl and add the sugar and salt. Mix well then make a well in the centre. Add the milk/yeast and the egg. Mix well to form a smooth and sticky dough.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 3-4 minutes, adding a little more flour if required..
  4. Place the dough in a lightly-greased bowl, cover and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size.
  5. Mark a rectangle 30 cm x 12 cm (12" x 5") on a piece of greaseproof or baking paper. Place the block of butter in the centre then cover with a piece of plastic film.
  6. Roll the butter out to the size of the rectangle, trimming if necessary. Place the butter in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to harden.
  7. Turn the risen dough out onto a floured surface, knock it back and roll it out to about 45 cm x 15 cm (18" x 6").
  8. Peel off the layer of plastic film from the butter and turn the butter onto the bottom two-thirds of the dough. Remove the paper, making sure there is a 1cm (½") border between the butter and the edge of the dough.
  9. Turn the top third of the dough over the butter, then turn the bottom third over the top third. Pinch the edges of the dough together.
  10. Give the dough a quarter turn and roll out to 45 cm x 15 cm (18" x 6") once more. Turn the top third of the dough over the butter, then turn the bottom third over the top third. Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to de-soften the butter.
  11. Take the dough out of the bag and put it on the lightly floured work surface with the short end towards you . Roll the dough out to 45 cm x 15 cm (18" x 6"). Fold up one-third of the dough and then fold the top third down on top to make a neat square. Put the dough back into the plastic bag and chill for another 30 minutes. Repeat this stage once more, then leave the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or overnight, to rest.
  12. Put the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a rectangle a little more than 40 cm x 32 cm (16" x 12"). Trim the edges to neaten them.
  13. Cut the dough into 20 squares of 8 cm (3") and fold each square into the required shape.
  14. Place the shapes on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Put the tray inside a clean plastic bag and to rise at room temperature for around an hour.
  15. Add any required fillings and bake at 160°C/320°F fan oven, 180°C/360°F conventional oven for around 15 minutes until golden brown.
  16. Leave on a wire rack to cool.
To make Crème Pâtissière
  1. Split the vanilla pod down the middle along its length.
  2. Put the cream and milk in a pan, add the vanilla pod and bring gently to the boil. As it comes to the boil turn off the heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds from the pod back into the pan.
  4. In a large bowl beat together the egg yolks and sugar until light and free-flowing. Beat in the flour.
  5. Add the milk/cream a little at a time into the bowl, beating well between each addition.
  6. Pour the mixture back into the pan. Heat gently with whisking until the mixture thickens.
  7. Pour the mixture into a clean bowl and cover with plastic film so that the film rests on the surface of the mixture. Leave at room temperature until cold.
Notes
The pastries will keep for 2-3 days in a sealed container, so don't bake more than you think you can eat!

The key to success in this recipe is keeping the layered dough cool so that the butter does not melt into the dough. The dough can be frozen and kept for up to one month. Simply defrost in the fridge overnight before rolling out.

The uncooked and shaped pastries can also be frozen. Place a tray of freshly-prepared pastries in a large plastic bag and place in the freezer for around 2 hours. The frozen pastries can then be placed in a plastic bag or container for storage in the freezer.

To use the frozen pastries place as many as you need on a lightly-greased baking tray, place in a plastic bag and leave to defrost and rise for several hours before baking as normal. The best time to bring them out of the freezer is last thing at night so that they are ready for baking first thing in the morning!

In the video I made pockets and pinwheels but another easy shape is a wrap made by folding just two opposing corners.

For the pockets and wraps you can place a filling on the dough before folding. Use chocolate chips or the same mincemeat that you would use to make mince pies.

Savoury fillings are possible too. Pesto, tomato sauce, cheese and cooked meats are a particular delight in the pocket and wrap shapes.

Don't waste your dough scraps! Cut them up and mix them with cheese, pesto and a few spices. Put into cupcake wrappers and bake for some rustic-looking savoury pastries!