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Danish Pastry

Until recently I'd never even thought about making a Danish Pastry but then was forced to practise these little gems, which took me totally out of my comfort zone. It's funny, for years i've baked but mainly only stuff I felt comfy with so to be made to experiment was a really positive experience for me.
The sense of pride when you produce something to a decent standard is fabulous isn't it! I'm one of those people who rarely gets it right 1st time and I have to practice to make (well nearly) perfect. And I love the fact that I can now make recipes up myself. I really enjoy jiggling and coming up with new flavour combinations.

The thing about Danish Pastries is you can experiment 'till your hearts content as it's all about personal taste. Normally with me I start with a recipe, make that, feel confident, then think how can I improve on it. Think about the flavours and the textures that you love and away you go.          

500 g strong white flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
7 g fast action yeast
25 g caster sugar
300-320 ml lukewarm water
400 g cold unsalted butter

With Danish you need to start the day before. It isn't a hard process, just really lengthy. Weigh out all the ingredients into a bowl, except for the butter. Give a good mix until the dough comes together, turn out and knead for 5 minutes.

I love to knead by hand as I find it really relaxing almost therapeutic. Once kneaded put back into a bowl, leave for an hour to double in size.Place the butter on a piece of parchment paper on the work surface, cover with another piece and flatten with a rolling pin, 20x40. Store in fridge. 

Once dough has doubled in size turn out and knock back, roll out into a 20x60 rectangle, place butter on top 2 thirds, fold the remaining 3rd up (see picture). Then fold down the top 3rd, place in fridge to rest for an hour, repeat this process 4 times. Leave in the fridge over night. I also make my creme patisserie the night before, cover and chill.

Creme Patisserie
20 g corn flour
20 g plain flour

60 g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
300 ml milk

Mix egg yolks and caster sugar together, heat milk.

Add a tablespoon into egg and sugar, mix, add flours slowly, stir, then add rest of milk, put back on heat, stir until thickens, continue stirring for 1 minute. 

Add flavour (vanilla, zest, alcohol,chocolate,actually anything that takes your fancy) cover and chill.

Today I made:
Chocolate and pistachio croissants
Pain au raisin
Pain au chocolat

Method for Pistachio and Chocolate
I used a 3rd of the dough rolled out into an oblong covered with creme Patisserie (vanilla)

Then chopped nuts and some milk chocolate chips (this is what I had in the cupboard), chucks of chocolate, milk dark or even white would work well. 

Rolled it over long ways, cut into 1 inch lengths, squished down on a baking tray, left to prove for 40 mins, cooked at 200 or top of AGA for 20 mins. Brush with some melted apricot jam whilst still hot. ENJOY!!!!
Roll a 3rd of the dough into a circle, divide into 8 triangles,roll out a little, wrap into croissants, start from wider end, roll down, tuck pointy end under. Leave to prove for 40 mins, brush with egg wash, bake in top of AGA or @ 200 for 20-25 mins. Glaze with melted apricot jam. ENJOY!

Pain au Chocolat
In my eyes these are the most simple to make almost fail safe.

Roll out a 3rd of dough into a rectangle, cut into 6 equal rectangles width ways from dough
add some chocolate to one roll, put seem on the bottom onto baking tray to prove for 40 mins,brush with an egg wash, bake for 20-25 mins @ 200 or in top oven of AGA.Brush with melted apricot jam. ENJOY!

I think food should make your mouth water, this is why i'm never going to be slim. These really do xx