Tuesday Tutorials- Danishes!

When I was little my parents had it all figured out. They decided when we were very young, that we could make our own breakfast. And on Saturdays, starting when perhaps parents would decide was too young today, we walked the block and a half to Second Cup and bought breakfast. It was a tiny cafe, part of a larger franchise in Canada, but one where they did all the baking in house. And every Saturday in the summer we would get a cinnamon danish with peach drink, and every Saturday in the winter we would get a peach danish and a hot chocolate. We were creatures of habit.

The couple that owned it were endlessly sweet to us, and we adored this little tradition. Then they hired an extremely rude girl who would serve the adults instead of us and be mean to us kids, so we wrote a very stern letter and we wrote each line in a different colour marker, so you know we meant business. And we never went back. For a few months we tried different cafes that were close to us, but it was never the same. Not long after we started making our own elaborate breakfasts which was, in fact, the beginning of a whole other exciting era. BUT there was a very sweet couple of years in which my sister, my next door neighbour and I ate danishes every Saturday. And it was a wonderful time.

Which is all a long way of saying that I love danishes. An awful lot.

Danish dough is what’s called a laminated dough, because you roll out the dough with a big block of butter in the middle. And then you fold the dough, and roll and fold and roll and fold, and as you do this the butter laminates the layers of dough. This is the same premise behind puff pastry, but here the dough is also yeasted so it rises even more, and has more flavour. The dough is similar to a croissant dough, which I might do a tutorial for soon -let me know if you’d like that in the comments!


Makes 32 danishes

3 1/2 tsp Dry yeast

1/2 cup Sugar

1 cup +2 tbsp Milk, warmed

7-8 cups AP Flour

1 tbsp Salt

1/2 cup Butter, soft

2 Eggs

1 1/2 lb (3 cups) Butter

Egg wash (1 egg yolk and 2 tbsp milk/cream)

And your filling! I used raspberry jam- about 2 cups of it.

*This makes a very large batch, which I like because then I freeze half of it, but you can half this easily as well.

Make sure the milk is not to warm, it should just be body temperature. If it’s too hot it will kill the yeast.

Mix the milk, yeast and sugar together. Let it sit until it gets foamy on the top, about 5 minutes. If it doesn’t get foamy it means the yeast is dead, start over!

In the bowl of a standing mixer or in a large bowl if you’re planning on doing it by hand, combine the dry ingredients, only 6 cups.

Add in the yeast-milk mixture in and combine until it starts to come together. If it is still very wet add in a bit more of the flour until the mixture is still soft but not sticky.

Add in the 1/2 cup soft butter bit by bit until it is fully combined, and keep mixing until the dough does the window test- when you take a small bit of dough and stretch it slowly in your hands, it gets so thin you can see through it. If it doesn’t keep mixing!

Now form the dough into the a ball and put it in a clean bowl, cover it with a clean tea towel and let it rise until it has doubled in size, about an hour.

In between two sheets of parchment roll out the butter into a square about 1 1/2 inches thick, put it in the fridge.

On a well floured surface place the ball of dough. Cut 4 slits into the dough at 12-3-6-9 o clocks, about half way in.

Now roll it out- so that you form a large x shape.

Put the block of butter into the middle

and fold the other pieces on top of it to seal it in.

Flour your surface again and place the folded side down.

Roll out the dough to a large rectangle, being careful to make sure the dough is rolled evenly and keeps it’s rectangular shape.

Now fold the dough in thirds like you were folding a letter.

Wrap up this piece of dough, put it on a baking sheet and put it in the fridge for twenty minutes.

After it has chilled repeat this twice more, rolling, folding, and chilling.

Let the dough chill for another 40 minutes.

At this point I cut the dough in half and put half of it in the freezer, but if you are making a large batch you can use it all!

Now roll out the dough! Roll it until it’s about 1/3 inch thick into a large rectangle. You can make any number of shapes with this dough now. Here is how I like to do it best.

Cut it into squares- half a batch of this dough will make 16 danishes.

IMPORTANT! The way you cut the dough will make or break your danishes. You must cut straight down. DO NOT twist a cutter or slice through. Cut straight down. Otherwise your layers will be sealed together.

SO I cut them into squares, then fold them diagonally.

Cut slits in them so that the outsides are disconnected from the middles except on two opposing corners. Unfold them and put them on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Brush with egg wash like I’ve shown here

And fold the pieces over.

Now fill them up with whatever filling you have. I used raspberry jam.

Let them sit until they have puffed up nicely, about another 45 minutes.

If there are some scrappy bits of dough from the edges, I recommend sprinkling some cinnamon and sugar on them and rolling them up into straws. You can proof and cook them along with the others no problem.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F

Use your egg wash once again to brush the tops of the danishes.

Bake until the dough is nicely browned, about 20-30 minutes.

Allow to cool a bit before eating- and I like to top up the middle with some more jam!

And that’s that!

Cultured Butter At Home

If a true baguette is a French nobleman, tall and lean, a crusader for tradition and preservation, then butter is the stout and shy wife, staying home and cooking while her husband goes out and gets all the attention. But, if I’m going to keep these metaphor going, she is an unsung hero, because good proper French butter, cultured and flecked with sea salt is beautiful and delicate, and tastes better the next morning that her stale mate.

My love for butter is long stated and probably can be traced back to one of my favourite childrens book to a poem where the King is so distraught that he can’t get butter with his bread that he goes back to bed saying “No one could call me a fussy man, BUT, I do like a little bit of butter for my bread”. A trip to France a couple years ago cemented it for me, butter is a beautiful beautiful thing.

Normandy is famous for it’s butter, and rightly so, but Normandy is a long way away from my Vancouver apartment. So I’ve been looking up ways of making butter recently. I remember doing it as a kid, taking a jar and shaking it until the fat split from the liquid, and I’ve done it in restaurants when there is cream about to go off, but it always makes simple plain butter. The butter I’ve been dreaming about since Paris has a much greater flavour to it.

So when I saw this recipe on Food52 I new it was fate.

Friends, this is damn good butter, as best as I have tried on this continent. The trick is to be patient, to use the absolute best cream you can find and to have some really good bread to spread it on when it’s done.

Proper French-Style Butter

1L Whipping Cream

2 tbsp Plain Yoghurt

2 tsp Fleur de Sel

In a large bowl mix together the cream and the yoghurt. Let it sit, covered, at room temperature for at least 2 hours or longer if you wish. Check it periodically by dipping a clean finger (or spoon!) into it and tasting it. Once it gets a nice slightly cultured, sour taste to it you can start whipping it. You can do this with a standing mixer, a handheld mixer or you can put it in a well sealed jar and shake it.

In my standing mixer this stage took about 15 minutes, but the cream with thicken and then start to seperate, the fats splitting from the liquid.

While this is happening put a colander inside a bowl, and line the colander with cheese clothe or a thin tea towel.

Let it strain for half and hour or so, you can give it a squeeze periodically to help it a long.


Once nearly all of the moisture is gone and if you pinch it between your fingers it doesn’t bead out bits of water your ready to go. On a clean counter top press it down into a small square. Sprinkle the salt on top and then fold it in half, then again then again and again.

Then you can press it into a mold, or just put it in a bowl like I did, with a little more salt sprinkled on top!  

Lasting Lemons

While I am definately looking forward to sunshine, fresh berries and days on the beach, the one thing from winter I will miss are the beautiful citrus fruits. Limes aren’t as juicy, lemons aren’t as sweet and grapefruits are so much more bitter in the middle of july. Which is mostly okay, I’ll happily take beaches and peaches, but of course I say that now and in a few months I’ll be waxing poetic about the beauty of key limes.

Which is all to say that in preparation for my citrus withdrawal symptoms I made lemon curd this week.

I love lemon curd.

Spread on toast in the morning? Iced onto cakes? Sandwiched inside a fresh scone? Check, check and check.

Lemon curd is also one of those things thats incredibly simple to make and yet costs an absolute fortune to buy in shops. So save yourself some money and make it at home. It only takes a few ingredients and 20 minutes (seriously, thats a generous estimate, it takes me 10 minutes!) and it also makes an amazing hostess gift.

Lemon Curd

(adapted from the Tartine Bakery Cookbook)

1/2 cup Lemon Juice

5 Egg Yolks

1/4 cup Sugar

1 cup Butter, softened.

Mix together the yolks and the sugar.

Add in the lemon juice and pour it into a pot and cook at a medium heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil.

Strain it into a bowl.

Stir in the butter, piece by piece, into the curd until it is all emulsified in.

Pour it into a sterilized jar and seal, or it will last for up to 2 weeks in your fridge!