Making Danish Pastries

Since making focaccia and pizza dough had gone so well, I thought I’d give something a bit more difficult a go – Danish pastry dough.

Big mistake!

This is a very involved recipe that is not for beginners, so I found it quite complicated and tiresome.

IMG_20160330_152912513The recipe (which is from Paul Hollywood’s Bread) starts off in an unusual way for bread: rolling butter into a rectangle and leaving it to chill in the fridge for two hours. After that, though, we’re back to normal for a bit – the only difference from normal bread dough is that you add milk and egg instead of water.

The next bit is the difficult bit.

You roll the dough out into a 50x20cm rectangle, lay the butter rectangle over two thirds of it, then fold it all together and leave in the fridge for half an hour. Bearing in mind that cold dough is quite tough, you then have to roll it back out into a 50x20cm rectangle, before folding and chilling again. Overall, the rolling, folding, and chilling process is done four times, turning each time so that you roll out each side of the rectangle.

The idea is that you end up with thin layers of dough alternating with thin layers of butter, which is presumably how you get the airy, flaky effect in croissants and other pastries.

What I ended up with, though, is achey arms from rolling out the dough so much, and butter absolutely all over the work surface and my hands because the dough got so thin it kept splitting and leaking butter everywhere.

It was so time-consuming, messy, and tiring that I was so fed up of it I wanted to throw it in the bin rather than make Danish pastries out of it. But that would’ve been a waste and I don’t do waste if I can avoid it.

As well as bread recipes, Paul Hollywood’s Bread includes recipes you can make using your bread or to eat alongside your bread. Danish pastry dough has two of these accompanying recipes: emmenthal, onion, and mushroom pastries, and chaussons aux pommes (apple and chocolate pastries). I made the former, but I made some adjustments.

IMG_20160401_201957551Firstly, since I still had some vegan cheese left, I decided to compare how that went with the pastry dough with how the emmenthal went with the pastry dough. Secondly, I was making these for my family, and my brother doesn’t like mushrooms, so I also did a batch without mushrooms, hence why the mixture on one half of the dough is grey-ish brown, and on the other, it’s almost clear because it contains only onions.

IMG_20160401_201639726For the most part, they turned out relatively well, though they were a bit unevenly cooked and the texture wasn’t quite right; they were a little too soft and moist, and not flaky enough. I personally found them a bit too rich, and I wasn’t too fond of the bittiness of the filling (rather than being smooth and blended, the mushrooms and onions were merely chopped finely). The vegan cheese went quite well, though I think it made it even richer, and I put too much in, which made it difficult to roll the pastries tightly.

IMG_20160401_203723130

IMG_20160401_223331794

Would I try it again? Maybe, but not for a long time! If I did, I’d be interested in seeing what I can replace the butter, milk, and egg with to make it vegan – but the recipe on its own is enough of a challenge, so don’t expect me to try that until I am some sort of Master Expert at bread-baking!

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