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Extraordinary Pastry Chef Catherine Adams shows you how to make the ultimate breakfast step by step.

Through Catherine adams

  • 1h of preparation
  • 25 minutes of cooking plus rest, proving and cooling
  • Makes 21 pastries
  • To print

Danish pastries

There is nothing like a crispy, buttery pastry with a cup of coffee for breakfast. I prefer pastries filled with fruit and the Danish are one of my favorites.

When it comes to Danish pastry dough, not all flour is created equal. Protein content is important – it’s what forms gluten that strengthens the dough, which must have a good balance between extensibility (its ability to stretch) and elasticity (its ability to regain its shape).

I use flour with a protein content of 10.5-12%. Strong flour will give the dough the strength to retain the steam created during baking, which swells the layers before evaporating, forming delicate sheets of puff pastry. Bakery flour is a good option. Soft or cake flour has a lower protein content and will not hold up as well.

Be careful not to over mix the dough otherwise the gluten will develop too much and make it hard. Mix it until smooth, then refrigerate it to allow it to relax, wrapping it well so it doesn’t dry out.

It’s all about butter

Using good butter in your Danish pastries is key to achieving airy and crispy results. I prefer butter with a fat content (listed in the nutrition information on the package) of around 82 percent. The fat makes the dough crisp and adds a rich flavor, and low fat butter will not produce that flaky effect. Meanwhile, a little moisture from the water content of the butter creates the vapor that separates the layers of the dough.

When forming the slab, the butter should be soft but cool – you should be able to mold it with your hands without melting. Remove the pieces of butter and assemble them on parchment paper, then place another piece of paper on top and roll over with a rolling pin to even out the slab.

2nd step. Photo: Ben Hansen

It is important to keep the dough and butter cool so that the butter remains firm but supple and the dough does not start to rise when you roll it. If the butter is too hard, it will pierce the dough and melt. If it is too hot, it will be incorporated into the dough and prevent the dough from rising evenly.

The folding of the butter in the dough constitutes the first “turn”. From there you need to roll it up and fold it two more times – it’s like making puff pastry but with fewer folds. Cool the dough between each round to loosen the gluten and keep it cool. And brush off the excess flour as you go to prevent the dough from drying out.

Step 3. Photo: Ben Hansen

And a few more tips to keep in mind

Always use a sharp knife to cut the dough so that it does not crush; compacting the dough prevents it from separating. When I make snails, for example, I put the rolled dough in the freezer to firm it up before cutting it into portions.

Step 9. Photo: Ben Hansen

Egg milk will brown the pastries to a rich golden color, but be sure to brush it lightly and evenly – if it builds up, it will prevent the pastries from rising.

While cooked or dried fruit is easy to use and tastes great, I sometimes replace it with fresh fruit. Lightly caramelized apples are delicious in winter, as are chopped stone fruits or blueberries in summer.

Danish can be made ahead, covered and refrigerated overnight, then brought back to room temperature and risen the next morning. Unbaked pastries can also be frozen for up to five days. Defrost them in the refrigerator overnight, then let them rise according to the recipe in a warm place (up to 27C, the butter will melt if the temperature is higher).

Frosting helps keep the danishes cooked. Apricot jam heated with a little water works well, as does a fondant icing made by mixing icing sugar with a little water. Sprinkle them with a crumble-style filling of brown sugar, cinnamon, nuts and coconut is another tasty option. No matter how you cook them, I can’t think of a better way to start the day.

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