Yes, you read that right. Today we are making Danish Pastries. And it’s NOT hard.
I’ve been looking at the blogs and magazines for April and they are all about Easter Cakes and sweets. That’s all well and good but in our house Easter Brunch is what counts and for brunch you need pastries.
If you have been following my blog, you know I have been working on making rough puff pastry. “Rough Puff”, as it is known, is a simplified process for making puff pastry. It’s pretty easy but it does take some time to make as it includes multiple rests in the refrigerator for the dough.
You don’t need to make your own puff pastry!
For this recipe you can use a good quality store-bought puff pastry. ( A true “Danish” pastry uses yeast but let’s not go there) If you are interested in making your own rough puff I will be posting it on Wednesday. Just in time for your Easter baking.
I love lemon in the Spring. It’s so bright and light after the heavy flavors and dishes of Winter. So I chose to fill my pastries with almond cream and lemon curd. I make my own lemon curd but you can use a store-bought version. Look for it with the jams and jellies. You can use any jam and/or filling you like. There are good recipes for cream cheese fillings online if you want to be traditional.
Using store-bought pastry and jam pretty much reduces making Danish pastries down to a process of rolling the dough and making the shapes. It’s fun and your guest will be so impressed! We are going to make three different shapes.
First, prepare your fillings.
If you would like to use almond cream you can use the recipe from my blog post on almond croissants. Beat together almond paste, sugar and butter until smooth, add your eggs one at a time and finish with a little flour.
If you want you can add ¼ cup of lemon curd to it.
You will also need an egg wash (an egg beaten together with a little cream or milk).
You will use one sheet of puff pastry for each sheet. Unfold one pastry sheet. (Keep the rest of the puff pastry in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it). It should be a 9″ sqaure. I measured my square and cut straight edges but you can eyeball it if you like. If you do it will result in a more rustic look.
Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the square into four smaller squares.
The first shape we are going to make is a pinwheel.
Cut each square into four triangles without cutting all the way through. Brush the square with the egg wash . (Now is a good time to move it on to your baking sheet.) Use a fork to pierce the pastry a few times in the middle. This will help keep the center from rising and tossing your jam off the pastry.
Now fold one corner of each triangle into the center.
Once all four triangles have been joined in the center put ½ teaspoon of jam or curd in the middle. Brush the pinwheel again with the egg wash. Bake the pastries for 20-25 minutes until puffed and brown.
Shape #2 is a fancy square.
As before, open the sheet of pastry into a square and cut that square into four smaller squares. This time cut a square out of the interior of each pastry leaving it connected on two diagonal corners. Move It onto the prepared baking sheet and brush with egg wash.
Lift up one side and move it over onto the other side of the square and do the same thing on the other side. You should have a square frame with a curlicue on the ends.
Pierce the center with a fork and then spread your filing in the center. I did some with almond cream alone and sprinkled with a few almonds, some with lemon curd and some with a mixture of lemon curd and almond. Brush the pastry again with the egg wash and bake as above.
And finally, the Danish pastry pocket. This one is my favorite because you get more filling in it!
Cut the puff pastry square into 4 smaller squares and then cut each of the smaller squares into 4 more squares leaving them joined in the middle.
Brush with egg wash and then put a scant teaspoon of filling into the center of each square.
Fold it up into a triangle and seal it in the center. Do this all the way around until you have a pocket. Drop a small amount of jam or curd in the center and brush again with the egg wash. Bake as above.
When the pastries come out they don’t look all that amazing but that’s okay because you aren’t finished yet!
Use your imagination to decorate the pastries.You can spread jam or curd over the almond filling in the squares, you can add some almonds or fresh fruit. Finish with a generous dusting of powdered sugar.
For the Pastries:
- 3 sheets puff pastry
- 1 cup almond cream
- 1 cup lemon curd
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp milk or cream
- Powdered sugar
For the Almond Cream
- ¼ cup butter softened
- 4 oz almond paste
- ¼ c powdered sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 3 tbsp flour
Make the Almond Cream
- Beat together the butter, almond paste and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the almond extract and mix in. Add the flour 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each tablespoon.
Make the Pastries
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Working with one sheet of puff pastry at a time, open it on a lightly floured board into a square. Cut the large square into four smaller squares. Use one sheet of puff pastry for each shape of Danish Pastry
- Make four pinwheel pastries by making four diagonal cuts in each small square from the points of the square to the center, stopping ¼ “ from the center so you don’t cut all the way through.
- Use a fork to pierce the uncut center a few times.
- Make an egg wash by whisking together the egg with a tablespoon of cream or milk.
- Brush the cut square with the egg wash and make a pinwheel by bringing one corner of each triangle in to the center. Press the pastry down. Place a teaspoonful of lemon curd (or jam) in the center of the pinwheel.
- Brush the pastry with the egg wash again.
- Bake on the prepared sheet for 20-25 minutes or until puffed and browned.
- Cut ¼” angle inside the square on two sides. Repeat on the other side. Do not cut a full square. Leave the pastry attached on two sides.
- Brush the pastry with the egg wash. Lift one outer side of the square over to the other side, making a frame around the square, repeat on the other side. Use a fork to piece the inside of the frame all over. Spread almond cream, lemon curd, jam or a filling of your choice inside the frame. Brush the pastry with the egg wash again.
- Bake on the prepared sheet for 20-25 minutes until puffed and brown.
- Cut four small squares in each square leaving them joined together in the middle of the pastry. Brush the pastry with egg wash. Place ½ tsp almond cream in the center of each small square. Fold each square over the almond cream making a triangle which joins in the center. Press down in the center to join and place a teaspoon of lemon curd or jam in the center. Brush the pastry with the egg wash.
- Bake 20-25 minutes until puffed and brown