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My first experiences with Danish pastries were disasters: greasy lumps swimming in puddles of grease. My breakthrough came when I realized that butter and dough needed to have the same texture, rather than the same temperature, in order to roll them together. After all, butter hardens in the cold, while the dough remains soft. Once I figured that out, a world of buttery pastry delicacies opened up to me.

Danish pastries with apples

Puff pastry is a nightmare to have in hot conditions, as the butter will start to melt the more you work with it. Save this recipe for a cold day. And don’t let the final formed pastries get too hot or the butter will melt.

Preperation 45 minutes
Coldness Overnight
To augment 1 hour
to cook 25 minutes
Makes 12

For the dough
160g bread flour
125g plain flour
1 teaspoon fast-acting dry yeast
½ teaspoon of table salt
30g of caster sugar
1 medium egg
125 ml milk
200 g unsalted butter
, cold

For the apple filling
450g apples – I use braeburns
450 ml apple juice
1 lemon
, juice
300g of caster sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
(20g)
40g unsalted butter
75g of dried cherries
75g of raisins
1 egg
, whipped, for washing eggs

Start the night before eating. Stir the dry paste ingredients into the water, then combine them into a paste. Knead for a few minutes, put in a bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.

For the garnish, peel, seed and grate the apples and add them to a saucepan with the apple and lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon. Boil for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the fruit is soft. When all the liquid has boiled, turn off the heat and mix with the butter.

The next morning the dough should be swollen. Flatten the block of cold butter between two sheets of baking paper. Peel off a sheet of paper, fold the butter on itself into a block, cover with paper and flatten again. Repeat until the butter becomes pliable – roughly the same consistency as the dough.

Shape the butter into a 12 cm square and the dough into an 18 cm square. Lay the butter at a 45 degree angle on top of the dough (discard the paper) to make a diamond in the square, pull each corner of the dough towards the center and join to seal the butter. On a floured work surface, spread the packet of dough-butter in the middle in a rectangle. Bring the top, short end of the rectangle to two-thirds the length of the dough, then fold the bottom bottom edge over (as if you were folding a letter) to form another rectangle. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat the rolling and folding process two more times – this will give you 27 layers of butter. If the dough gets too hot or too stiff to roll during this process, cover and let sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before trying again.

Heat the oven to 210C (200C fan) / 410F / gas 6½. Roll out the dough into a rectangle measuring 30 cm x 35 cm. Spread over the apple puree, leaving 1.5 cm clear around the edges. Spread over the cherries and raisins, then roll the dough along one of its long edges. Cut off the ends with a sharp knife, then cut them into rounds about 2 cm thick and lay them out on two large baking sheets, stretching them gently into circles. Place in a plastic bag and let rise for up to an hour. Just before cooking, brush the top with a little beaten egg, then bake for 10 minutes.

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