PASSION FRUIT CURD AND CARDAMOM CREAM CHEESE DANISH
Ever wanted to make a French bakery style viennoiserie? Well, here is a comprehensive guide on how to make the perfect flakey, crunchy, delicious pastry or danish or viennoiserie!
WHAT IS LAMINATING DOUGH ?
Laminating dough is a technique where you fold in the butter between a yeasted dough, multiple times, such that you trap the butter into the dough, several times, to create alternating layers of butter and dough. When pastries made with this dough, hits the oven, the butter melts, creating pockets of steam between the layers, giving it the signature iconic layers, characteristic of a Danish, Croissant, Puff Pastry etc. The possibilities are endless. The process looks very intimidating, and one may be scared to venture into it, but once you try it one time, it is just a matter of repeating the same folding and rolling process a few times, before shaping the final pastry and baking it off.
I had taken an extensive lamination class a few years ago, at the SF Cooking School. That has been one of the most fun and rewarding experiences in cooking/baking. I learnt so many different tricks and techniques during the class, that got me really very excited! I was a good student and a keen learner. Learning never stops, and it is important to keep learning new skills in life, whatever be the age. That is how you keep things exciting and fun in life right?! The things we learnt in class were puff pastry, croissant dough, Danish dough, kouign amann, palmiers and many other fun things. I practice quite regularly and have really gotten to know the process, understanding the dough, the butter, how the dough is supposed to feel, how and when to shape the pastry, how to determine when you have done something wrong.
HOW DO WE START THE PROCESS OF LAMINATING DOUGH FOR DANISH?
Create the butter block. What is a butter block? It is essentially creating a Tetris(if you have played the game, ions ago!) of butter into a squarish shape, on a parchment paper. Cover it with another parchment paper and beat it with your wooden rolling pin to sort of spread it a bit. The end goal is the create a smooth butter block of 8×8 inch square. If it helps you can even draw a square with a pencil on the parchment paper, turn the parchment paper, such that the penciled side is the work surface and the butter is on the other side. That way it will give proper lines to work with. I use a bench scraper to sort of align the butter block and make all the edges and sides straight. Start rolling on the butter block to smoothen the top and also to spread it, to the penciled edges. It takes about 10 minutes of faffing around, until you get that perfect square. Rolling, straightening the sides and edges, repeat! That is the process. Once the butter block is created, you want to wrap it nice and tight using all the parchment paper, around to form a neat package and keep it in the fridge overnight to use it the next day.
Make the Danish Dough: The dough is essentially made with bread flour, sugar, salt, instant yeast, eggs and whole milk. Make sure that the eggs and whole milk are at room temperature. The dough is made in a stand mixer with a dough attachment. It is really easy to make the dough. You are essentially combining all the ingredients and then letting the stand mixer do the work. Let the mixer go on for 6 minutes or so, to stretch out the gluten, to let the gluten develop. The way you know that your dough is ready is by doing the window pane test.
What is the Window Pane test?
Window pane test is when you take a piece of dough, stretch it with your thumb and first 2 fingers, and see if the dough tears or simply stretches to form a stain glass effect. If it tears, the dough needs maybe a minute or so more in the stand mixer, to develop the gluten more. Once you are able to stretch the dough such that it does not tear, then you know your dough is ready. Take a quarter pan sheet, with a parchment paper. Place the dough on it, shape it into a rectangle shape and then cover it nicely with a plastic wrap so that the dough does not dry out. You want the dough to sit in the fridge overnight, or atleast 2 hours for the gluten to settle.
Ingredients used in the Danish Dough:
Bread flour: I used King Arthur Flour Bread Flour. Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour, more than 11%, and helps with the gluten development, which is essential to making flakey pastries.
European grade unsalted butter: It is extremely essential to use European grade butter for all your pastry baking needs. The butter that should be used has higher fat content than the regular American butter. The fat content is around 82%, and is essential to getting those flakey layers. The butter that I always use is Plugra. It is available in grocery stores. I have not tried any other brand, but if you do look for another brand, make sure that the butter is unsalted and also has a fat content of 82% or more.
Instant Yeast: So I always use the Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise Instant Yeast and the dough works out beautifully. This one time I did not have this yeast. But I found a Red Star Platinum Superior Baking Yeast(Premium Instant Yeast) and I used that in my Danish Dough. My dough would just not stretch and settle. It was a pain to work with, and my pastries shrunk in the oven. I was really disappointed. So the next weekend, I bought the Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise Instant Yeast, and used that to make Danishes again and low and behold! I was able to get the exact flakey, correct sized pastries again! This was a learning experience for sure. Maybe that Red Star Platinum Instant Yeast was not made for Danishes. I am not sure?!
Enclosing the butter block in the Danish dough and creating your first fold:
Always make sure that your work surface is clean before you begin. You want to have the stainless steel ruler for measuring the length/width of the dough, pastry brush, extra flour, bench scraper, rolling pin, all ready to go so that you are not scrambling to look for these equipment at that time.
The next day you will roll out the dough into the dimensioned mentioned in the recipe, which holds the butter block right in the center, and you fold the dough over the butter block to enclose it completely, to form a book fold. The butter and the dough are at the same temperature as both have been in the fridge overnight, and that is what you are looking for, so that the butter seeps into the dough evenly. You use your rolling pin and start making indentations horizontally to get ready to start rolling the dough in an upward/downward motion. You are looking to elongate the dough more lengthwise, which is away from you. And also width wise sideways. But the length will be more than the width. The bench scraper and the rolling pin are used extensively to straighten out the sides as much as possible. You want the corners to have a neat 90 degree angle as much as possible. It is Ok if the first turn does not. It will eventually get there by the 3rd turn.
Tips if the butter oozes out, or the dough sticks to the surface:
Use excess flour underneath the dough at regular intervals to ensure that the dough does not stick to the work surface. If you see the butter seeping out, it is OK, and you DO NOT HAVE TO PANIC. Simply patch it up with excess flour and roll the rolling pin over it. Once you reach the desired size after using the bench scraper to straighten the sides and getting an almost even rectangle, use the letter fold to fold the dough. Take the top most part of the dough, and bring it onto the dough 2/3rd of the way. Fold the lower part of the dough over the folded dough to form a letter fold. Even out the sides again with the bench scraper and put it on a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper. Your first fold is done.
You are basically going to repeat the same process twice with a rest time in the middle, because you do not want the dough and butter to soften. If it softens then it is harder to roll and come to a desired size.
After the 3rd and final fold, you will roll out the dough to a thickness of 5mm, trim the edges with a pastry cutter or a sharp knife, and a ruler. And then using a 5-wheel pastry cutter which is linked here, you will cut the entire rectangle into 3.5 to 4 inch blocks, whatever size you desire. These should be placed on a baking sheet with parchment paper, and frozen for 10 minutes ,or fridge for 30 minutes. You want to be able to work with the squares, and hence it needs to be cold. Use any desired fold that you wish to do. There are several folds that you can do with the square. I love playing around with different folds every time I make Danishes.
Proofing the Danish is an important step that you cannot miss. It ensures the proper development of the iconic layers. The proofing temperature is important as well. In the summer, danishes do not take much time to proof, I would say about 1 ½ hours. But in the winter, it takes about 2 ½ – 3 hours to proof nicely. I wrap these plastic bags that I got from Amazon, linked here. They fit the baking sheets. The proofing temperature of 75 degrees is generally a good temperature. Anything more than that, the butter starts oozing out of the Danish dough which is NOT what you want. Once proved, then you can fill them with the filling of your choice, and bake them off.
You can fill them sweetened cream cheese, or you can simply fill them with jam and then bake them. OR cream cheese and jam are a great combination. I have also made pastry cream, and filled it with bake stable pastry cream, and then garnished with different garnishes. So it all depends on how you want to “dress” up your Danish to make it look pretty and taste delicious too! My family’s favorite is cream cheese and jam!
This recipe calls for a sweetened cream cheese, and passion fruit curd which are really a BOMB combination, and my family was absolutely nuts about this Danish!
Baking the danish:
You want to start baking at a higher temperature, for the butter to melt and generate the steam and puff up the outer layer, crisp up the outer layer. Then you want it to bake inside at a steady temperature, and hence you lower the temperature after a few minutes at a higher temperature. Once the danishes are baked, to give the crust a shine and beautiful crunch, I brush them with a simple sugar syrup as soon as they are out of the oven. Once they cool down, they are a delight to enjoy with some tea or coffee! They are absolutely amazing when fresh and you can see the flakey layers just falling OFF as you bite into the BEAUTIFUL DANISH! YOU CREATED THIS! AND IT IS SO WORTH IT!
MAKING A FEW AT A TIME AND FREEZING THE REST:
Danishes are best eaten the day of, or the next day in my opinion. So unless you are having a big breakfast buffet party, I would highly suggest to make 4 at a time or 6 at a time. That is what I do. I simply make 4 at a time, and freeze the remaining squares, by first freezing them on a baking sheet with parchment paper, and then stacking them all, and wrapping them in plastic wrap nicely sealed, and storing in the freezer. When I want to make some breakfast, I remove 4 from the freezer the night before and put them in the fridge to thaw. The next morning, simply shape, proof, fill and bake them off to have a fresh Danish breakfast ready to go with a different filling of your choice to enjoy!
I use the same Danish to create savory versions as well for dinner sometimes, and a side salad and some good wine to go with it! It makes for a delightful dinner that everyone enjoys! I remove 4 from the freezer the night before and put them in the fridge to thaw. The next afternoon, simply shape, proof, fill and bake them off to enjoy a savory Danish dinner that your family will love!
The ones in the freezer will last upto a month!
I hope you enjoyed this very detailed post that I have created for you! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me anytime! Hope you get to make the Danish of your dreams!
ADDICTIVE PASTRY: PASSION FRUIT AND CARDAMOM CREAM CHEESE DANISH
- Passion Fruit and Vanilla Bean Curd:
- ¼ cup passion fruit juice (about 4 to 5 passion fruits)
- 2 Tbsp (29 gms) lemon juice
- ½ cup (100 gms) granulated sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 egg yolks
- 3 Tbsp (42 gms) unsalted butter
- Butter Block:
- 2 cups plus 1 ½ Tbsp (470 gms) of cold, chilled unsalted European style butter
- Danish Brioche Dough:
- 6 cups minus 4 tsp (720 gms) bread flour
- ⅓ cup (65 gms) granulated sugar
- 4 tsp (12 gms) instant yeast
- 2 tsp (4 gms) ground cardamom
- 2 tsp (12 gms) table salt
- 1 cup plus 3 Tbsp (280 gms) whole milk at room temperature
- 3 eggs
- 5 Tbsp (72 gms) European style butter, melted and cooled
- Sugar syrup:
- ¼ cup (60 gms) water
- ¼ cup (50 gms) granulated sugar
- Cream cheese and cardamom filling:
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- 2 tsp whole milk
- Egg wash:
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp (5 gms) water
- 1 tsp (4 gms) granulated sugar
- Freeze dried raspberries
- Wide rolling pin
- Parchment paper
- ½ sheet baking sheets
- Bench scraper
- 2 foot stainless steel ruler
- Pastry brush
- Wide haired brush to brush off excess flour
- 5-wheel stainless steel pastry cutter(sharp knife will do)
- Day 1:
- Passion Fruit and Vanilla Bean Curd:
- 1. Remove the pulp/seeds and juice from all the passion fruit into a strainer, over a bowl. Using a rubber spatula, press on the seeds continuously, to extract as much juice as possible from the passion fruit pulp. Scrap underneath the strainer with the spatula, to get all the pulp from the bottom of the strainer into the bowl.
- 2. Add the lemon juice into the passion fruit juice, along with ¼ cup of the sugar.
- 3. Heat a small saucepan with water, on medium heat. Add the passion fruit-lemon juice into a glass bowl. Once the water starts bubbling, add the glass bowl carefully, using mittens, on top of the saucepan. Let it warm up. (Glass bowl should be slightly bigger than the saucepan.)
- 4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the remaining sugar, beat it with a whisk vigorously one direction until the color is pale yellow and the mixture is ribbon-like in consistency and flow.
- 5. The juice mixture is warm. Add about ¼ cup to the egg yolk mixture and whisk to temper the yolks. Add the entire yolk mixture into the juice over the saucepan, and keep stirring continuously.
- 6. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture continuously for 8-10 minutes. It will thicken as you keep stirring. Remove from the heat. Remove the glass bowl off the saucepan.
- 7. Add the unsalted butter and whisk until combined and the mixture is smooth and silky in texture.
- 8. Add the vanilla bean paste, stir to combine. Cover with a plastic wrap so that it does not form a film on the top. Store the passion fruit and vanilla bean butter in the fridge to cool.
- 9. Once cooled after 3 to 4 hours, it will firm in consistency. Using a rubber spatula, pour it into a glass jar, seal and store in the fridge for upto 2 weeks.
- Butter Block:
- 1. Cut the chilled butter into rectangular blocks to form an even square on the center of a sheet of parchment paper. It is almost like playing Tetris with the butter on the parchment to form a square or a rectangle.
- 2. Cover with another parchment paper and start pounding the butter block with a rolling pin until the layer evens out. The goal is to smoothen out the butter into an even layer of an 8x8 inch butter block.
- 3. Keep measuring after a few poundings to see if it is reaching an 8x8-inch butter block. You can use a bench scraper to even out the edges, and smoothen out the top. You can even flip the parchment paper upside down, since the bottom will be smoother and then use a rolling pin to smoothen the butter. Keep pushing the slides to be straight and form a square.
- 4. The whole process takes anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. The goal is for the butter to remain chilled during the entire time and not soften. If you feel the butter is too soft, put it in the fridge for 30 minutes and try forming it into a square again.
- 5. Once the square is formed, tuck the parchment paper overhang around the butter block and set it in the fridge overnight.
- Danish Brioche Dough:
- 1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, add all the dry ingredients - bread, flour, sugar, yeast, ground cardamom and salt and whisk to combine. Add the milk, eggs and butter to the mixture. Start the stand mixer at low speed for a minute for the dough to mix together. Increase to medium speed for 3 minutes until the dough is smooth and the bowl is clean.
- 2. Mix for another 2 to 3 minutes for the dough to develop gluten and become sturdy.
- 3. Do the windowpane test : Take a small piece of dough, and using your first three fingers and thumb on both hands, gently smooth and stretch the dough until thin. If you can stretch the dough without breaking it, the dough has been sufficiently kneaded and the gluten is well developed. If it breaks, knead the dough in the mixer for another 1 to 2 minutes and do the windowpane test again.
- 4. Place the dough onto a clean surface. Shape into a rectangle, place it on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet, cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- DAY 2:
- Prepare the Cream Cheese and Cardamom Filling:
- Mix together the cream cheese, cardamom, sugar and milk in a bowl, with a rubber spatula. Keep it aside.
- Laminating the Brioche Dough:
- 1. Keep the stainless steel ruler, bench scraper, wide haired brush, extra flour and rolling pin handy.
- 2. Remove the dough from the fridge. Using extra flour sprinkled on a clean surface and extra flour on the rolling pin, roll out the dough to an 8x18-inch rectangle. You have to keep straightening the sides of the rolled out dough with the bench scraper and rolling pin, to ensure that the rectangular shape is maintained at all times, while at the same time maintaining the thickness of the dough throughout as well.Use extra flour as needed to ensure that the dough does not stick to the surface.
- 3. Remove the butter block from the fridge and place in the middle of the dough. Remove the excess flour from the dough, by using the wide haired brush. Wrap the left side over half the butter block, then wrap the right side over the other half of the block. Secure it from the top, bottom and the middle by pinching the dough together. This is called a classic enclosure. Square out the entire block by using the bench scraper to sort of align all the sides in parallel.
- 4. We will do 3 single turns on the dough to laminate it and to get it ready for making our danishes.
- First Turn:
- 5. Sprinkle flour on the work surface. With the open side of the dough enclosed butter block towards you and the other side facing outward, roll lengthwise, up and down, to lengthen the dough. Make sure that the sides and tops are straightened, by using the bench scraper and rolling pin and keeping the thickness the same throughout the length of the dough.
- 6. Make sure that you use flour to sprinkle beneath the dough, by lifting it with one hand and sprinkling flour with the other. Make sure there is enough flour sprinkled on the top as well. You want to make sure that your dough does not stick underneath or onto your rolling pin.
- 7. The desired size is 8x18 inches, Make sure that the corners are stretched so that they are square as well. You want an even rectangle. You can roll out to 8x19 inches and using a pastry cutter, cut off half an inch from the width of the rectangle to even out the sides.Use the wide brush, to gently remove any excess flour.
- 8. With the length of the rectangle parallel to you, wrap the dough, by folding the left side of the dough two-thirds of the way. Brush off the excess flour using the wide brush and then wrap the right side of the dough over the left side. Again brush off the excess flour. Straighten out the dough with a bench scraper and the rolling pin to an exact rectangle. Place it on the baking sheet, wrap it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for an hour.
- Second Turn:
- 9. With the open edge of the dough towards you and the other open edge facing away from you, roll lengthwise, up and down, to lengthen the dough. Make sure that the sides and tops are straightened, by using the bench scraper and rolling pin to maintain an even thickness throughout the length of the dough.
- 10. Repeat steps 6,7 and 8.
- Third Turn:
- 11. With the open edge of the dough towards you and the other open edge facing away from you, roll lengthwise, up and down, to lengthen the dough. Make sure that the sides and tops are straightened, by using the bench scraper and rolling pin to maintain an even thickness throughout the length of the dough.
- 12. Repeat steps 6,7 and 8.
- Cutting the laminated dough into 3.5 inch squares:
- 13. Same as Step 9. With the open edge of the dough towards you and the other open edge facing away from you, roll lengthwise, up and down, to lengthen the dough. Make sure that the sides and tops are straightened, by using the bench scraper and rolling pin to maintain an even thickness throughout the length of the dough.
- 14. Same as Step 6. Make sure that you use flour to sprinkle beneath the dough, by lifting it with one hand and sprinkling flour with the other. You want to make sure that there is enough flour sprinkled on the top as well. You want to make sure that your dough does not stick underneath or on the rolling pin and that the corners are stretched square as well.
- 15. The desired size is 9x26 inches, and about 5mm or ¼” thick. You want an even rectangle. Cut off half an inch from the width and the length of the rectangle to even out the sides, using a sharp knife and the stainless steel ruler. Using the wide brush, brush off the excess flour.
- 16. Using the stainless steel pastry cutter, and setting it to 3.5 inches wide, cut strips, from the rolled out dough, lengthwise first. When using the pastry cutter, cut at a 60 degree angle, putting even pressure across the entire cutter to have even and consistent squares. Using the same 3.5-inch setting, cut widthwise to form the squares. You will get 14 exact squares, and additional scraps of dough to play with or to make cylinder pastries with.
- 17. You can also use a knife and ruler to cut the squares if you do not have a cutter.
- 18. Place the squares 2 inch apart on a baking sheet with parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 30 to 40 minutes.
- Shaping, Proofing, Filling and Baking the Danish:
- 1. SHAPING: Remove 4 squares at a time. Roll them out slightly larger to about 4x4 inches. Take about 2 tbsp of chickpeas or any beans. Put them into a plastic wrap and double wrap to create a pocket of beans. Repeat this as many danishes as you are baking. So if you are baking 4 at a time, make 4 bean bags. Fold the corners almost to the center of the square. Place the bean bag into the center to hold the corners intact.
- 2. Place the squares on the baking sheet 2 inch apart and proof the danish.
- 3. PROOFING: To proof, you can 1) Put a large plastic bag or an unscented garbage bag, over the baking sheet, sealing the tray. Make sure that the bag does not touch the danish by putting inverted glasses on the tray inside the bag in the four corners, to hold it up. Leave the tray in a warm place (temperature of 75 degrees F). OR 2) Place the baking sheet in the oven, with a pot of warm water at about 80 degrees F(to create the warm environment required for proofing). Proof for 2 ½ to 3 hours.
- 4. SIMPLE SYRUP: In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar. On medium heat, let the sugar dissolve for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the syrup cool.
- 5. FILLING: Whisk the Cream cheese mixture to make it smooth.
- 6. EGG WASH: To make the egg wash, combine the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk for 2 minutes until the mixture is smooth.
- 7. BAKING: Preheat the oven to 415 degrees F. Dip the pastry brush into the egg wash, removing excess and lightly brush, on the border and sides of the Danish. Place the baking sheet in the center rack of the oven. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F . Remove the bean bag and make sure the center of the danish square is sort of sealed. Scoop about 1 heaped tablespoon of the cream cheese onto the middle of the Danish. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown, rotating the trays after about 15 minutes for an even bake.
- 8. DECORATION: When the Danishes come out of the oven, use a pastry brush to apply the simple syrup over the Danish to give it a nice shine and crunch after cooling. Add a teaspoon or so of passion fruit and vanilla bean curd. Sprinkle generously with the dried raspberry!
- Enjoy with some Tea or Coffee!