Danish pastry is often referred to in a short form as simply a “Danish.” It’s a light and airy pastry that is usually topped or filled with a fruit filling similar to a pie filling and even cheese. Your bread machine can make part of this process simple, but to make a true pastry you to have to repeatedly fold and roll out the dough between a thin sheet of butter bound with flour. The growing layers of butter between the sheet of dough is what gives this pastry its flaky texture.
The first thing you need to make are a couple of butter sheets because we’re going to be rolling out two sheets of pastry. This butter sheet consists of your one cup of softened butter and your 1/3 cup of flour. We always try to find ways to use the bread machine with any complex recipe, but for this first step you’re better off creaming the butter and flour together using a plastic spatula or in a bowl using a table top mixer. Once you have blended the flour and butter, divide it into two pieces and roll out using a rolling pin with the flour butter mixture placed between two sheets of wax paper. Roll it thin into two evenly sized sheets about 8 x 14 inches and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients to the bread pan of the bread machine but make sure the milk is 110 degrees Fahrenheit or 43 degrees Celsius. The easiest way to do this is to put the milk into a microwave on high in a Pyrex measuring cup for 45 seconds. Once you have added all of the ingredients to the bread pan select the basic dough setting and press start. When done you’re ready to roll out the dough on a floured surface.
Cut the dough in half and roll out with a rolling pin until you have roughly a 14-inch sheet. Don’t worry if you have some rounded or irregular edges. As you fold it will evolve into a rectangular shape. Remove one sheet of the cold butter and flour mixture from the wax paper and place to the left on the rolled-out dough. You may find that the butter sheet breaks apart. That’s okay. Just build the pieces on one side of the dough. You could also pop the wax paper into the freezer for a couple of minutes if you need to firm up the butter/flour sheet. Repeat this with the other sheet of dough.
Fold the dough in half like a book and seal the edges with your fingers. Roll each piece of the dough into roughly a 20 x 12-inch piece. Here again, don’t worry if it’s a bit irregular. The next step will start to give you a rectangular shape.
Fold the dough again into thirds by folding the long sides inwards towards the center. Repeat the folding into thirds step and rolling out the dough one more time and then wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, fold and roll the dough as before using a triple fold. Do this twice and return to the refrigerator for another 30 minutes to keep the butter firm.
You now have a couple of options for shaping the Danishes. Begin by rolling out the dough to a ¼-inch thickness. Trim the sides to create a rectangle You can either cut the dough into squares before dropping a dollop of filling in the middle, or you can cut circles with a glass and then surround the dough circle with trimmed pieces of the dough. You’ll want to use some egg yolk on the edges to allow the dough pieces to adhere to each other. Here are some filling options:
• 2 tablespoons of Orange Marmalade dolloped on top of a square or in the center of one of your circle Danishes.
• 2 tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese or the cheese of your choice.
• 2 tablespoons of strawberry preserves or any other jelly you like.
Place the Danishes on an ungreased cookie sheet and let rise until doubled in size. Once they have risen, glaze with a mix of egg yolk and a 1 teaspoon of water. The amount of glaze that you’ll need will depend on the size and shape of your Danishes.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit or 220 degrees Celsius.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the bottoms are golden brown.
Combine a cup of confectioner’s sugar with a very small amount of cold water drizzled into the powdered sugar a few drops at a time. You’ll be surprised how little water you need. Add more sugar if the glaze gets too thin.
Whisk the glaze until it is thick but smooth and drizzle the sugar glaze over the pastries from a teaspoon.