Sunday, July 17

Blueberry cheese danishes


My poor blog has been a little neglected as of late and it's not for a lack of baking either. In the past little while I've made English muffins (yum), crumpets (disaster), buttermilk pudding (yum), chocolate biscuits (yum), and danishes (yum). Out of all these things the only one I photographed were these danishes. I feel bad for the other things I've made, except maybe the crumpets because they were seriously awful.

When I went looking for danish recipes I was surprised by how few were for actual danish dough, after reviewing them I understood why. Danish dough seems scary; the recipes has a lot of steps and the time estimates often exceeded 5 hours. There's yeast and a butter block involved because they're not bad enough on their own. After reading the recipes and various tips and tricks I was terrified, terrified but committed. I can't get a decent danish within walking distance and I had the urge.

I set my standards low, saying to myself if I could make a danish that was on par with one Baker's Delight I'd be happy. Danishes from Baker's Delight are disappointing to say the least but sometimes I eat them anyway. I always feel guilty and ripped off afterwards.


In the end I was pleasantly surprised by the whole dough making process. My danishes weren't perfect but they were tasty. The dough did take a lot of time but a fair amount of it was simply waiting. Making danish dough reminded me a lot of making ice cream, there's a lot of time between when you start and when you finish but not a whole lot of actual effort. Sure, you have to be around the house all day but when it's bitterly cold and you don't want to go outside anyway it's fine.

For a first attempt, I'm pretty proud and I'd encourage everyone else who has had even the slightest inkling to attempt danish dough to give it a shot. It's super fun and you'll impress all your friends when you show up with danishes for dessert.

That being said, I'm not sure if it's characteristic of homemade danishes or if I did something wrong but as these cooled they got a little harder. Maybe it was the butter solidifying in the cold or maybe I messed up along the way but the store bought, margarine filled, danishes were similar to mine in hardness when at room temperature. Any tips to combat this or are homemade danishes just best when hot?

Blueberry cheese danishes

(From The Art and Soul of Baking)
makes 12 danishes

For the danish dough
Dough block

1/4 cup warm milk
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 a teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 large egg, cold
85g milk, cold
250g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Butter block
170g cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1 cm pieces
20g plain flour

For the filling

225g cream cheese, softened
70g sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tablespoons plain flour
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
50g fresh blueberries

To make the danish dough

Pour the warm milk into a small bowl and whisk in 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Whisk in the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is activated and cloudy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the remaining sugar, egg, and cold milk. Whisk in the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk together the the flour and salt until well blended. Add the flour mixture into the egg mixture, attach the dough hook to the stand mixer,and mi of the lowest speed for 1-2 minutes, or until a very rough mass has formed. Dust a work surface with flour and turn the dough on to it. Knead the dough 3 to 5 times, to just bring it together. The dough will not be smooth or elastic but it will come together during the rolling and turning stages. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.

To make the butter block, toss the butter in the flour and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Fit the paddle attachment to your stand mixer, and in a clean bowl, beat the floured butter on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the butter is a smooth mass. You do not want to beat air into it, rather just make a it smooth and pliable. Scrape the butter on to a piece of cling wrap and refrigerate while you roll out the dough.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Set the refrigerated dough in the center and dust the top with flour. Roll the dough into a 20cm by 15 cm rectangle with the short side parallel to the edge of your surface. Brush any flour from the top and visually divide the dough into 3 sections. Spread the cold butter evenly over the top 2/3 of the dough, leaving a 1cm border around the edges.

Fold the empty bottom third up over the center. Then fold the top third down over center. Pinch the seams along the bottom and sides and then gently roll your rolling pin over the top a few times.

At this point, you can either refrigerate the dough for an hour, to re-frim the butter or, if you have worked fast enough, continue with the second turn.

Position the dough with the short side parallel to the edge of your work surface and the long fold on the left-hand-side. Dust the dough with flour and roll it into a 25cm by 15cm rectangle. Brush any remaining flour from the top.

Fold the two short edges into the center of the dough, leaving a 1/2 cm crevice between them. Line up the edges and square the corners. Now fold one side over the other, as if you were closing a book. Roll your pin lightly across the top of the dough a few times to seal it. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for an hour.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, dust it with flour, and roll it into a 25cm by 15cm rectangle. Brush any flour from the top and then visually divide the dough into 3, fold the bottom third up over the center and the upper third down over the top. Roll your pin across the top a few times. Refrigerate the dough for a minimum of two hours or up to 24 hours before proceeding with cutting and shaping it.

To make the cream cheese filling

Cut the cream cheese into 8-10 pieces and put it in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar and beat on medium until smooth. Scrape down the bowl, add the egg yolk, and beat until combined. Beat in the flour, orange zest, and vanilla. Transfer to the refrigerator until required.

To assemble the danishes

Dust your work surface with flour and place the dough in the center. Dust the top with flour, then roll the dough into a 40cm by 30cm rectangle. Using a ruler and a knife, mark the dough at 10cm intervals along all four sides. Cut the dough into 12 squares.

Place a tablespoon of cream cheese filling in the center of each square. Spread in an oval toward two of the diagonal corners. Place 3-5 blueberries on each side of the cream cheese filling.

Fold one of the empty corners over the filling. Moisten the top with a dab of water. Bring the opposite corner over the first and press to seal. Transfer the danishes to a lined baking trays.

Cover the trays loosely in cling wrap and place them in a cool room temperature spot until they have doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C and position a rack in the center. Chill the trays of danishes in the freezer for 10 minutes. Bake the danishes, a tray at a time, for 14-16 nminutes. Turn the trays halfway through the baking process. Once cooked, transfer the danishes to a a cooling rack and cool to room temperature