October: Apple Danish

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This month’s lesson is all about luscious lamination—that amazing process that creates unbelievably flaky croissants, puff pastries, and, of course, Danish. Lamination is the process in which you incorporate a firm butter block into a base dough through a number of folds and rolls, creating slivers of butter within the dough. During baking, the water in the dough and butter becomes steam, puffing the dough and revealing distinct layers of golden pastry. Our yeasted base dough uses Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour, a flour with enough protein to make the dough elastic and hold its shape but tender enough to handle the numerous folds and rolls it receives during lamination. We’re walking you through each part of the process, from the formative butter block to the laws of lamination. Plus, we’re offering a triple-threat technique on shaping, showing you how to form pinwheels, kites, and coils. By the time you finish, you’ll be a Danish-baking dynamo.

Click here to download a printable PDF of this lesson, or keep scrolling to view our digital lesson.

Before you get to baking, be sure to enter our Instagram giveaway to win a prize pack of baking essentials you’ll use in this lesson. The giveaway closes on October 30, 2020, so hurry to enter!

INGREDIENT BREAKDOWN

Great recipes require great ingredients. Here’s how each ingredient makes this Danish dough laminated perfection.


 
BOB’S RED MILL ORGANIC ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR: Dough that needs to be laminated requires a special kind of flour. Too low in protein, like cake or pastry flour, and the dough will not develop enough gluten to hold and maintain its laminated layers. Too high in protein, like bread flour, and the end result will be too tough. Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour offers the strength needed while still allowing the dough to bake into a melt-in-your mouth pastry.

GRANULATED SUGAR: The sugar in our dough adds a touch of sweetness, but it also helps feed the yeast and boosts caramelization. Sugar helps absorb some of the moisture as well, keeping your Danish from baking into a soggy mess.

KOSHER SALT: Beyond adding a boon to overall flavor, kosher salt is essential to this yeast-leavened dough. Salt strengthens the gluten, absorbs moisture (like the sugar), and helps slow down the overall fermentation process, keeping your dough tender.

INSTANT YEAST: We opt for instant yeast rather than active dry so we can incorporate it directly into our dry ingredients. The yeast will help your dough puff, but it isn’t going to make your dough double in size like a typical recipe. It’ll work just enough leavening magic to create a fluffier baked good.

WHOLE MILK: Milk not only enriches our dough but also adds a boost of moisture. This liquid will convert into steam in the oven, helping accentuate the pastry layers.

UNSALTED BUTTER: Butter is the defining flavor of this dough, so spring for a milk fat-rich European-style butter, which has more fat than the generic grocery store butter. Most Danish doughs call for one part butter to two parts flour, while croissant doughs call for one part butter to three parts flour. Thus, Danish dough is fundamentally richer than your typical croissant.

EGGS: Eggs are one of the key ingredients that separate Danish doughs from croissant doughs. Eggs make this an enriched dough, like brioche or challah. We also use eggs for an egg wash, the best way to impart gloss and color to a baked good.

Apple Danish

Dolloped with a honeyed cream cheese filling and thin slices of fresh apple, these Danish are the ultimate pastry ode to fall. The tender dough is made with Bob’s Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Flour, which receives lovely, wafer-thin layers of butter from a few rolls and folds. Then comes the choose-your-own-adventure of shaping. Pick kites, coils, or traditional pinwheels for your Danish shape, or a delightful combo of all three.

October: Fall Danishes
 
Makes 12 Danish
Ingredients
  • 4 cups (500 grams) Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour, divided
  • ⅓ cup (67 grams) plus 1 teaspoon (4 grams) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon (9 grams) kosher salt
  • 2¼ teaspoons (7 grams) instant yeast
  • 1 cup (240 grams) whole milk
  • 1 cup (227 grams) plus 3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, softened and divided
  • 2 large eggs (100 grams), room temperature and divided
  • 1 medium Pink Lady apple (145 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) water
  • Honey Cream Cheese Filling (recipe follows)
  • Honey Glaze (recipe follows)
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 1 cup (125 grams) flour, ⅓ cup (67 grams) sugar, salt, and yeast by hand.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat milk and 3 tablespoons (42 grams) butter over medium heat until an instant-read thermometer registers 120°F (49°C) to 130°F (54°C). Add warm milk mixture to flour mixture. Using the paddle attachment, beat at medium-low speed until combined. Add 1 egg (50 grams), beating until combined. With mixer on low speed, gradually add 2½ cups (313 grams) flour, beating just until combined and stopping to scrape sides of bowl.
  3. Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed until a soft, somewhat sticky dough forms, 5 to 7 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl and dough hook; add up to remaining ½ cup (62 grams) flour, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) at a time, if dough is too sticky. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C until slightly puffed, 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lightly dust with flour.
  5. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into a 9-inch square, and place on prepared pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  6. Using a permanent marker, draw an 8-inch square on a sheet of parchment paper; turn parchment over. Cut remaining 1 cup (227 grams) butter into smaller squares and rectangles; arrange cut butter into a rough checkerboard pattern on prepared parchment. Cover with a second sheet of parchment paper; using a rolling pin, flatten butter to fit inside drawn square, keeping edges straight and even with a bench scraper. Smooth top with an offset spatula. Keep wrapped in parchment paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  7. Freeze dough for 15 minutes; let butter block stand at room temperature until pliable, about 15 minutes.
  8. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-inch square. Unwrap butter block, and center on dough so corners of butter block almost touch center of sides of dough. Once you place your butter block, there should be four perfect triangles of dough formed around the butter block. Fold corners of dough over butter block, meeting in center, and press lightly to seal dough around butter block. Straighten dough, and immediately roll into an 18x12-inch rectangle. Fold each short end to meet in center; fold in half. Turn dough 90 degrees, and roll into an 18x12-inch rectangle. (If dough has warmed up from folding, refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm again.) Repeat folding. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1½ hours; freeze for 30 minutes. (See Notes.)
  9. Cut apple into ⅛-inch-thick slices. (You should have 36 slices total.) Place in a medium bowl; add lemon juice and remaining 1 teaspoon (4 grams) sugar, tossing to coat.
  10. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 17x13-inch rectangle. Trim ½ inch off each side so rectangle is 16x12 inches. Cut dough in half crosswise. Place one half on pan; cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Cut into 6 (4-inch) squares or 6 (12x1⅓-inch) strips (if cutting into strips for coils, make sure you cut along short sides). (See Notes.)
  11. Position oven rack in top third of oven. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  12. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 teaspoon (5 grams) water and remaining 1 egg (50 grams).
  13. For pinwheels: Using a sharp paring knife, make a 2-inch cut from each corner of a square toward center. Brush with egg wash, and fold over and press alternating points to center. Place on a prepared pan. Repeat with remaining squares. Brush with egg wash, and spoon 1 tablespoon (10 grams) Honey Cream Cheese Filling into each center. Top with 3 apple slices. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat procedure with remaining dough.
  14. For kites: With one point facing you, fold a square in half away from you to form a triangle. Using a sharp paring knife and starting ½ inch from right side of triangle, make a cut from base of triangle to ½ inch below top point. Starting ½ inch from left side, make a cut from base of triangle to ½ inch below previous cut. Unfold square; brush with egg wash. Fold cut left side (second cut made) over center, and place point in line with opposite inside point. Fold cut right side (first cut made) over center, and place in line with opposite inside point. Place on a prepared pan. Repeat with remaining squares. Brush with egg wash, and spoon 1 tablespoon (10 grams) Honey Cream Cheese Filling into each center. Top with 3 apple slices. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat procedure with remaining dough.
  15. For coils: Brush a strip with egg wash. Twist strip; shape into a coil, making sure to keep it flat. Tuck end under, and place on a prepared pan. Repeat with remaining strips. Brush with egg wash, and spoon 1 tablespoon (10 grams) Honey Cream Cheese Filling into each center. Top with 3 apple slices. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat procedure with remaining dough.
  16. Bake, one batch at a time, until just starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Rotate pan, and reduce oven temperature to 375°F (190°C). Bake until deep golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes more. (See Notes.) (Increase oven temperature to 425°F [220°C] before baking second batch.) Let cool on pan for 10 minutes. Drizzle Honey Glaze on warm Danish. Serve warm or at room temperature. Best served same day but can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days. (See Notes.)
Notes
If you want to serve these for breakfast or an early brunch, instead of refrigerating for 1½ hours and then freezing for 30 minutes, just refrigerate overnight (no need to freeze).

Some ovens bake the bottoms darker than others; place a second pan under prepared pan when baking to prevent overbrowning. Not sure how your oven will bake? Test with one Danish on a prepared pan or go ahead and double up on pans just to be safe.

Reheat stored Danish in a 350°F (180°C) oven before eating.

Honey Cream Cheese Filling
 
Makes 1½ cups
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ tablespoons (32 grams) honey
  • 1 large egg yolk (19 grams), room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) vanilla extract
  • 1½ tablespoons (12 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Stir in honey, egg yolk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Whisk in flour and salt until smooth.

Honey Glaze
 
Makes about ⅓ cup
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup (90 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (21 grams) honey
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) whole milk*
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Use immediately.
Notes
*If glazing room temperature Danish, use 4 teaspoons (20 grams) whole milk.

 

BUTTER (BUILDING) BLOCK

Before you can laminate, you must make the butter block.

The Science: Butter is often sold in bars and bricks, much like gold. Unfortunately, these hard, cold cuboids aren’t ready for lamination. Instead, you must wait for your butter to soften. Depending on what the temperature of the room is—from 65/18°C to 75°F/24°C—your butter will be softened in 45 minutes to 2 hours. Then, using a rolling pin, bench scraper, and offset spatula, shape it into a large, flat square. 

The Method: Using a permanent marker, draw an 8-inch square on a sheet of parchment paper; turn parchment over. Cut remaining 1 cup (227 grams) butter into smaller squares and rectangles; arrange cut butter into a rough checkerboard pattern on prepared parchment. Cover with a second sheet of parchment paper; using a rolling pin, flatten butter to fit inside drawn square, keeping edges straight and even with a bench scraper. Smooth top with an offset spatula. Keep wrapped in parchment paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours. 

LAMINATION STATION

You’ve built your butter block and mixed and chilled your dough. Now, it’s time to do that magical fold and roll combo: lamination.

1. Freeze dough for 15 minutes; let butter block stand at room temperature until pliable, about 15 minutes. First things first: temperature check. You want to make sure your butter block and dough are at the perfect temperatures. You want the dough and butter to have the same consistency. They should be super cold and give resistance if pressed on but not feel like a solid brick. This will keep you from having butter so soft that it oozes out the sides or so stiff that rolling out becomes impossible.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-inch square. As you proceed, try to work quickly and efficiently. With every second out of the refrigerator, your butter block and dough are softening.

3. Unwrap butter block, and center on dough so corners of butter block almost touch center of sides of dough. Once you place your butter block, there should be four perfect triangles of dough formed around the butter block.

4. Fold dough over butter block, meeting in center, and press lightly to seal dough around butter block. Our first fold is known as an envelope fold, as you are folding the dough around the butter block in a way an envelope encases a letter. Much like for a letter, you’ll want to seal this dough-envelope around the butter block.

5. Straighten dough, and immediately roll into an 18×12-inch rectangle. Once you roll this out, pat yourself on the back. You’ve created your first layer. If you struggle to get your dough to roll out into the dimensions noted, allow the dough to relax for about 5 minutes. This will loosen up the gluten and make it easier to roll out.

6. Fold each short end to meet in center; fold in half. Turn dough 90 degrees, and roll into an 18×12-inch rectangle. (If dough has warmed up from folding, refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm again.) Repeat folding. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1½ hours; freeze for 30 minutes. This second fold creates four more layers of butter. Once you roll out and do your third fold, you’ve made 16 layers. Basically, each fold quadruples your butter layers.If your dough has become warm or soft after the second roll out, refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes before executing your third and final fold. Now that you’ve laminated your dough, you’ll want to refrigerate it immediately so the butter doesn’t soften and your Danish dough doesn’t lose its definition. You’ll freeze the dough before shaping, ensuring it keeps firmly laminated during the process.

SHAPING: PINWHEELS

The classic Danish shape, pinwheels will remind you of this pastry’s European origins.

Working with half of the dough at a time, cut into 6 (4-inch) squares. Using a sharp paring knife, make a 2-inch cut from each corner of a square toward center. Brush with egg wash, and fold over and press alternating points to center. Place on a prepared pan. Repeat with remaining squares.

SHAPING: KITES

Kites look impressive but are deceptively simple to shape.

Working with half of the dough at a time, cut into 6 (4-inch) squares. With one point facing you, fold a square in half away from you to form a triangle. Using a sharp paring knife and starting ½ inch from right side of triangle, make a cut from base of triangle to ½ inch below top point. Starting ½ inch from left side, make a cut from base of triangle to ½ inch below previous cut. Unfold square; brush with egg wash. Fold cut left side (second cut made) over center, and place point in line with opposite inside point. Fold cut right side (first cut made) over center, and place in line with opposite inside point.

SHAPING: COILS

Twisted and twirled to perfection, these coils round out our trio of shapes.

Working with half of the dough at a time, cut into 6 (12×1⅓-inch) strips. Brush a strip with egg wash. Twist strip; shape into a coil, making sure to keep it flat. Tuck end under, and place on a prepared pan. Repeat with remaining strips.

APPLE PREP

Before you bake, don’t skip the apple prep step.

Cut apple into ⅛-inch-thick slices. Place in a medium bowl; add lemon juice and remaining 1 teaspoon (4 grams) sugar, tossing to coat. The lemon juice helps keep your apple slices from oxidizing, the process during which fresh-cut fruit turns brown after coming in contact with oxygen. Meanwhile, the sugar helps draw out excess moisture. Thin apple slices are key. If you cut your apple too thickly, you’ll overwhelm the Danish with excess water, making it soggy, and your apple slices may not cook all the way through.

BRUSH, FILL, BAKE

Time to nail the dismount, bakers.

1. Brush with egg wash, and spoon 1 tablespoon (10 grams) Honey Cream Cheese Filling into each center. Top with 3 apple slices. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) for 15 to 20 minutes. Beware of overfilling your Danish! Just 1 tablespoon of filling topped with 3 apple slices is plenty—much more and the filling will overflow. You want to fill and top your Danish before it rises. If you top after the final rise, the weight of the filling and apples will deflate and crush your hard-won laminated layers.   

2. Bake, one batch at a time, until just starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Rotate pan, and reduce oven temperature to 375°F (190°C). Bake until deep golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes more. (See Notes.) (Increase oven temperature to 425°F [220°C] before baking second batch.) Let cool on pan for 10 minutes. Drizzle Honey Glaze on warm Danish. We start the oven temperature high, at 425°F (220°C), allowing the layers to quickly puff and set as the heat helps with quick evaporation of steam rather than slowly melting the butter. Then we lower the oven temperature to keep the golden bottoms of the Danish from getting too brown. Some butter leaking out of the pastry during baking is appropriate, but if it looks like the butter is pooling, then your initial oven temperature may be too low. Allow your oven to preheat fully, and verify oven temperature with an oven thermometer.

Danish Timeline

Pick one of these two timelines to make these Danish—either a one-day or a weekend project 

1-Day Timeline

8 a.m. Assemble all ingredients and equipment.   
8:30 a.m. Make dough.  
8:45 a.m. As dough rises for 10 to 15 minutes, make butter block. 
9 a.m. Refrigerate butter block and dough for 2 hours. 
11 a.m. Place dough in freezer for 15 minutes; let butter block stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. 
11:15 a.m. Laminate dough. 
11:30 a.m. Refrigerate laminated dough for 1½ hours. 
1 p.m. Freeze laminated dough for 30 minutes. While dough is in freezer, make Honey Cream Cheese Filling and prep apple slices. 
1:30 p.m. Roll out dough and divide in half. Store half of dough in refrigerator while you cut remaining half into either 6 (4-inch) squares or 6 (12×1⅓-inch) strips.
1:45 p.m. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Make egg wash. Shape dough into pinwheels, kites, or coils. Repeat with shaping remaining dough. 
2 p.m. Fill Danish with Honey Cream Cheese Filling and apple slices. Let rise for 15 to 20 minutes. 
2:20 p.m. Bake Danish.  
2:35 p.m. As Danish cool for 10 minutes, whisk together Honey Glaze. 
2:45 p.m. Drizzle warm Danish with Honey Glaze and enjoy!

3-Day Timeline

Day 1 
5 p.m. Make butter block; refrigerate overnight.    

Day 2
8 a.m. Make dough; refrigerate for 2 hours.
10 a.m. Place dough in freezer for 15 minutes; let butter block stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
10:15 a.m. Laminate dough. Refrigerate overnight. 

Day 3
8 a.m. Make Honey Cream Cheese Filling and prep apple slices. 
8:15 a.m. Roll out dough and divide in half. Store half of dough in refrigerator while you cut remaining half into either 6 (4-inch) squares or 6 (12×1⅓-inch) strips. 
8:30 a.m. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Make egg wash. Shape dough into pinwheels, kites, or coils. Repeat with shaping remaining dough.
8:45 a.m. Fill Danish with Honey Cream Cheese Filling and apple slices. Let rise for 15 to 20 minutes. 
9:05 a.m. Bake Danish. 
9:20 a.m. As Danish cool for 10 minutes, whisk together Honey Glaze. 
9:35 a.m. Drizzle warm Danish with Honey Glaze and enjoy!

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