Right from the first week of the Intermediate course, Ch*ef G*ert has been excitedly telling us that he hopes that he would taking the class for Danish pastries. After all, who would be more appropriate to teach us about Danish pastries than a Dane?
Maybe I ought to clear a huge misunderstanding right at the start of this blog entry. While the rest of the world know these lovely pastries as Danish pastries, in Denmark, they are known as “Wiener- brød” which means “bread from Vienna”.
Let’s take a trace back to the history of the Danish pastry or “Wiener- brød”. In the late 1800s, many bakers from Vienna were offered jobs in the bakeries at Copenhagen. Along with them, they brought along a recipe for a type of sweet bread which became hugely popular amongst the Danes. Its popularity led the Copenhagen bakers to develop the dough process behind this sweet bread and eventuality led to this much-loved pastry.
For the purpose of this entry, we shall just continue calling it “Danish pastry”. The pastry itself is similar to the puff pastry dough but instead of giving it 6 single turns, we only give the Danish pastry 3 single turns. This gives the pastry its soft, ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ sensation. According to Ch*ef G*ert, high quality cake margarine is used in the production of these delights in most bakeries in Denmark.
But since we don’t have access to that, we stuck with our good old friend, butter.
To me, the best thing about Danish pastries is that you can create a colourful plate of them in different shapes, sizes and flavours just with this single dough. The possibilities are endless!
Assortment of danish pastries
A variety from Kringles which is a pretzel-shaped pastry filled with Remonce, to apricot windmills filled with crème patissiere, as well as apple turnovers and hazelnut twists would be perfect for a sweet breakfast on a winter’s morning or a tea to be enjoyed with friends.
The dough was prepared the day before and it is made with basic ingredients like flour, sugar, salt, butter, yeast, eggs. The butter is then enclosed in the dough and given three single turns with a 20 minute resting period in-between turns. An amazing thing what simple and ordinary ingredients can present you at the end of the day.
The next day, when we took out the dough from the cooler room, the dough has puffed up to about double its size. It looked like a huge pillow and one that we embraced with arms wide open.
That expansion was most welcome; it simply meant that we were doing something right with our dough.
The fun part of the day began: it was time to shape our dough into windmills, pockets, twists and turnovers. I must admit to having a favourite and it does not even have anything to do with taste! The windmill looks fun, vivacious, bright and cheery. It reminds me of a kid’s toy, all it lacks is a stick to hold it, just like a lollipop.
The Danish pastries were given a final touch as soon as they were out of the oven. Though they already look attractive, a quick brush of the apricot glaze just made them glow in its beautiful shine even more.
That was the point where I didn’t bother resisting anymore. The aromas of the butter blended together with the sweetness of the apricot jam got me in the end. I did not even want to wait till I get home before biting into one of these!
A few of us spent the rest of the Saturday evening beside the oven, packing and eating our very own Danish pastries together.
And that, to me, was the best part of the day.
Devouring the twist