From time to time, my food blogger friends and I talk about how much fun it would be to all live in the same neighborhood (or at least within a short drive of one another), as opposed to spread out around the country. Food blogging friends are a special breed - among other things, they don't think it's weird that you have 10 pounds of butter stashed in your freezer, and they understand your odd obsession with taking pictures of almost everything you eat :) I know we'd have a blast if we had the opportunity to spend time together in the kitchen, but until that's possible, we spend a lot of time baking virtually, usually texting and sometimes tweeting one another as we work. These chocolate danish were a project I tackled with my friend Di a few weekends ago.
The basis of these danish pastries is a laminated dough, which just means that it has alternating layers of dough and butter, which are made through a series of folds and turns. When the thin layers of butter hit the heat of the oven, the water in the butter turns to steam, the pastry puffs, and you're left with the lightest, most flaky treat. It's like magic! This lamination is typically achieved by wrapping dough around a block of butter, then completing lots of folds and turns, and though I've used that method twice - first to make traditional croissants, and then chocolate croissants - this recipe's technique is referred to as "rough" and is decidedly less fussy. You don't need a mixer to make the dough and there's no kneading required. You also get to skip the butter block; if you're ever tried to shape 3 or more sticks of butter into a square, you'll understand why this is a very good thing!
The best part is that this method produces results that are just as fantastic as the other recipes I've tried! Just looking at the danish you can see the flaky layers that have been created. These were buttery and rich, everything you'd want from a decadent breakfast treat. I filled my danish with chocolate, of course, but the world is really your oyster here. The recipe's author included a raisin danish and Di made a raspberry-filled braid, to name a few. Just be sure you have friends to share with because resisting the temptation of these pastries is nearly impossible :)
The recipe comes from Dan Lepard and can be found in The Guardian here. Just a few notes:
-Only weights are given, so you'll need a scale to make this recipe. I prefer it this way anyway, I think it's far more accurate.
-Some of the ingredient names may seem a little unusual. Quick translation - fast-acting yeast = instant yeast, strong white flour = bread flour, cold double cream = heavy cream, caster sugar = granulated sugar (technically, superfine I think, but regular works). Also, I subbed bread flour where the recipe calls for 00 flour without any problems.
-If you need help figuring out the folds, I included step-by-step pictures in the croissant posts linked above. Also, don't worry if the dough is a rough mess for the first few turns, it will get better!
-The recipe doesn't specify a range of time for rising after the croissants are shaped. Mine took about 45 minutes to double in size.
-You can freeze the danish after shaping, but before rising and baking. See the comments below the recipe for detailed instructions.