Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Danish

This is the recipe I use from my 1969 version of the Fleishmann's recipe booklet.  The newer versions you find online are a bit different.  My apologies if I am breaking any copyright laws.  Note: some versions of this give you the option of margarine or butter.  I ALWAYS use butter!!!  I don't think they would be nearly as good with margarine, but that's my opinion.

Danish Pastry
Makes 24 pastries
3 ½ - 4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 / 2 cup sugar
1 1 / 2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1 / 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 envelopes FLEISCHMANN’S RapidRise Yeast (I use regular yeast)
3 / 4 cup milk
1 / 2 cup water
1 / 4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
2 eggs, large, room temperature, separated (or one whole egg and one separated egg)

1 1/ 2 cups butter (3 sticks)
1 tablespoon water
Confectioner’s sugar frosting
Colored sprinkles
In a large bowl, thoroughly mix 1 1/ 4 cups flour, 1 / 2 cup sugar, undissolved yeast, salt, cornstarch and lemon peel.
Combine milk, water, and 1 / 4 cup butter until warm.  (Butter does not need to melt.)  Gradually add to flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 2 egg yolks and one egg white, and 3/4 cup flour; or enough flour to make a stiff batter.  Beat 2 minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally.   Add enough additional flour to make a soft dough, mixing just until blended. In dry Arizona, I usually wind up using 3 cups of flour.  Humid locations may use more.  I found going for a sticky dough is better.  The dough is firm, but sticks to your fingers.  That's ok.  Once you start rolling and folding it looses the stickiness, but still makes a soft, flaky pastry.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 hours.
Spread 1 1 / 2 cups butter on waxed paper to 12 x 10-inch rectangle. Chill 1 hour.  (It helps to bring the butter to room temp to aid in spreading.)
On a lightly floured board, roll chilled dough to 16 x 12-inch rectangle. Place chilled butter on 2/3 of  dough. Fold uncovered third over middle section; cover with remaining third (This means you have to crack the butter slab in half.). Give dough a quarter turn; roll to 16 x 12-inch rectangle and fold in thirds again, as above. Turn, roll, and fold once more. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap; chill 1 hour. Repeat procedure of two rollings, foldings, turnings, and chilling twice more. Refrigerate overnight.
 On a lightly floured board, divide dough in half. Roll 1/2  the dough into a 15 x 6-inch rectangle.  Cut 12 strips, 12 x 1/2 inch.  Twist each strip and form into a circle, sealing ends well.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  At this point, pastries may be frozen for 3 – 6 months, if desired.

Combine reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon water.  Brush rolls with egg white mixture.
Bake at 375oF for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Remove from sheets; cool on wire rack.
Frost with confectioner’s sugar frosting and decorate with colored sprinkles, if desired.
To bake frozen pastries, remove from freezer the night before, cover with plastic wrap and let sit on counter to thaw and rise.  Bake as above.
Confectioner’s sugar frosting: 

2 C. Confectioners sugar
2 T. Milk
1 t. vanilla

Place confectioners sugar, vanilla and ½ milk in bowl and mix together.  Gradually add remaining milk, 1 t. at a time just until mix reaches consistency desired.
The italicized comments are my own, and not part of the original recipe.
I thought I would add some pictures for the shaping process.  This is the dough, after sitting in the fridge overnight.  I cut it in half.

Can you see all the layers of pastry and butter???  That's what makes it so yummy and flaky.  If you want to do the math, you start out with the original of a layer of dough, butter, dough, butter, dough.  You roll this out and fold in thirds.  Roll out and fold in thirds again.  You repeat this four more times.  If you are mathematically inclined, you can calculate how many layers of dough and butter this finally comes to.  A LOT!  lol

You roll each half out to roughly  15" x 6".  It usually winds up more like 15 x 7 for me.  No big deal.  I use a quilter's ruler to do the dividing and help me cut straight.  First cut long ways in half, then each half in half, then each quarter in thirds.  This makes 12 long strips.  I use a pizza cutter to make the cutting easier.
Then, take each strip, and place a finger on each end and roll in opposite directions to get the twist.  I have the pizza cutter holding down one end so I could take a picture. 
Then, from one end of the strip, start rolling into a coil, being sure to tuck the ends in.  At this point, you can freeze the pastries.  I freeze on a cookie sheet, then place four into a baggie.  With two of us, that gives us each two when I thaw to serve for breakfast later in the year.  How many you store in each bag depends on the size of your family.  At our family gatherings back east, I baked one dozen Christmas morning and the other dozen the next morning, not bothering to freeze any.
So there you have it!  That's how I make Christmas Danish every year!  Once baked, I frost with confectioner's sugar frosting.  I don't make the full recipe for us,  I just take about a half cup or so of the sugar and add enough milk to make it barely runny.  The heat of the pastries fresh from the oven will help it run.  You want it just thin enough to stream off your spoon to drizzle on the pastries.  If you buy canned pastries, the tin of frosting included in them is about the consistency you want..  I have four sitting in the fridge, waiting to be baked the day after Christmas.  Cowboy has to work Christmas Day and I don't do 4:00 AM!


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