Danish dough was created in Vienna. The mystery is in its name, for why is a Vienna-based pastry called a Danish? One answer has been that since a superior butter came from Denmark, the name Danish was used to acknowledge all of the butter in the product. Another answer is that a Danish baker was living in Vienna when he created this product.

A History of Danish Dough

Danish dough’s sweetness matches well with many different fillings. It is also a rich dough because of the sugar, butter and eggs that are added to it. While Danish dough works well with a variety of fillings, it also has many different shapes. Some popular products include bear claws, sticky buns, coffee cakes, twists and envelopes.

DANISH DOUGH

2 Tablespoons fresh yeast
2 ounces sugar
8 ounces lukewarm milk (80-90 degrees)
1 Tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
22 ounces pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounces butter for roll-in

1.  Scale ingredients.

2.  The SDM is used for mixing Danish dough. Soften yeast and sugar with warm milk. Place dry ingredients in mixing bowl of a mixer with the dough hook attachment. Whisk yeast mixture, adding eggs and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix 2-3 minutes on medium speed.

3.  Roll detrempe into a rectangle, place on parchment-lined 1/2 sheet pan and retard for 30 minutes.

4.  Make beurrage and roll-in using the English-style.

5.  Tourage: Danish dough requires 4 single turns. Complete the first 2 turns then retard for 1/2 hour. Complete the last 2 turns.

6.  Retard paton for 8-24 hours.

7.  Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness and cut into desired shapes.

8.  Proof shaped products at 80 degrees until almost double in size.

9.  Bake products on parchment-lined sheet pan at 325 degrees F. convection or 375 degrees F. conventional until golden brown.

10.  Finish products with flat icing.

DANISH PRODUCTS

CINNAMON ROLLS: Danish dough is rolled to 1/8-inch thickness, covered with cinnamon sugar filling and then rolled up like a jelly roll. One inch slices are cut from the roll and placed into a greased cake pan. Cinnamon rolls are proofed until slightly under double in size and then baked. They are inverted onto a serving plate and covered with flat icing.

STICKY BUNS: Sticky buns are similar to cinnamon rolls except that the pan they are baked in is coated with a pan glaze before the rolls are put in.

BEAR CLAWS: Also known as Kamm in Scandinavia, contain either a cinnamon filling or an almond paste filling. They are made by cutting 4-5″ pieces from the filled Danish roll. The pieces are cut half way through in 3 or 4 places. The “claws” are spread out and the product is proofed and baked. Bear claws are finished with flat icing.

COFFEE CAKES: A variety of fillings may be used for coffee cakes, including fruit, jam, nut or cream cheese. Two popular ways to shape coffee cakes are:

1.  WREATH: The wreath is made by forming a long, filled Danish roll into a circle and joining the ends. Slices are made part way through the dough in 1″ spaces. Each segment is twisted out slightly to open the cuts.

2.  BRAIDED: Dough is rolled out into a rectangle. Filling is spread down the center. Diagonal cuts are made are made in the uncovered dough from the center to the outer edge about 1″ apart. The coffee cake is proofed, baked and finished with flat icing.

POCKETS: Dough is rolled out and cut into squares. The filling is placed in the center of the square. One corner is folded into the center. The corner directly opposite of the folded corner is folded in towards the center. The product may be left this way or the 2 remaining corners may be folded in towards the center to form a square.

DANISH TWISTS OR SNAILS: Cut 1/2″ strips of dough from a rectangle. Place one hand on each end of strip. Twist the strip into a twist. Shape the twist into a tight spiral. Proof until under double in size. Place filling (cheese, fruit, jam) in center of spiral. Bake and finish with flat icing.

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PINWHEEL: Cut dough into square pieces. Cut a slash from each corner halfway through toward the center. Egg wash the center. Fold alternating corners in toward the center. Proof until under slightly double in size. Centers may be filled at this point or after baking. Bake and glaze.

DANISH FILLING RECIPES:

CINNAMON SUGAR FILLING

8 ounces brown sugar
12 ounces butter
1/4 ounce cinnamon

Cream brown sugar, butter and cinnamon until smooth and spreadable.

STICKY BUN PAN GLAZE

10 ounces brown sugar
4 ounces butter
2 1/2 ounces honey
2 1/2 ounces corn syrup
1 ounce water

Combine and cream all ingredients until smooth. (Note: Add more water if needed to spread on the bottom of baking pan).

FLAT ICING

8 ounces powdered sugar
1 1/2 ounces hot water
1/2 ounce corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Combine and mix all ingredients.

ALMOND FILLING

8 ounces almond paste
1 ounce sugar
4 ounces butter
1 ounce cake flour
4 ounces eggs

Cream almond paste and sugar until smooth; add butter. Mix until combined. Add flour, then eggs.

CHEESE FILLING

8 ounces cream cheese
2 1/2 ounces sugar
pinch salt
1 egg
1 1/2 ounces butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 Tablespoon cake flour
11/2 ounces milk

Cream cream cheese, sugar and salt. Add egg and beat until smooth. Blend in remaining ingredients; mix until smooth.

PASTRY CREAM

2 Cup milk
2 ounces sugar
2 egg yolks
1 egg
4 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 ounces sugar
1 ounce butter
2 teaspoons vanilla

Scald milk and 2 ounces sugar. Mix yolks, egg, cornstarch and remaining sugar until smooth. Temper in hot milk; return to heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook 3-5 minutes. Off the heat, add butter and vanilla. Cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Rick Spiros graduated from the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago at the top of his class. After graduating from John Hershey High School in Arlington Heights, Illinois in 1990, he went on to Southern Illinois University. Rick received a degree in Marketing in 1995, and worked in sales after graduation. But Rick had always dreamed of a career in the food service industry, and so in 1996 he decided to pursue his ambition by attending CHIC. Rick is currently the sous chef at Savannah’s in Chicago.

Rick likes his food to be creative. He wants his menus to present options that people want to try – so many options that it takes many visits to sample them all. Rick has a passion for food, the energy to strive for perfection and an ability to manage the stress inherent in the food industry.

That Rick Spiros is thorough and driven towards perfection is evident from the recipes he sent for this article. Epicurus asked him for a few recipes that demonstrated his skill. Instead, he sent us a short course in pastry-making! We thank him wholeheartedly for his efforts!

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