Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Apricot Danish Pastry (a novel)

Ok, so here's the recipe for the danish pastries. But I have a secret to tell you: it's really, really, ridiculously easy. This recipe is more or less straight from the pages of Baking With Julia. All I did was substitute earth balance for butter, more soymilk for egg, and decrease the sugar.

The only trick to making the pastry is that you absolutely must keep the dough cold. Earth Balance melts much, much quicker than (dairy) butter, so I cannot stress enough how important it is for the dough to be chillled. If the EB begins to look soft or melty at all, pop the whole thing into the freezer for a few minutes. This sounds fussy, but trust me, if you want your pastry to be flaky the butter must be kept cold. (All the folding and rolling creates layers of dough separated by layers of butter. When you put the pastry into the hot oven, the butter melts, leaving spaces between the dough layers, which is what makes the pastry flaky. If the butter isn't kept cold, these layers will not form, and instead the butter will get mixed into the dough. You'll have a tender, bread-like creation-- it won't be flaky.)

Even leaving the dough at room temperature to rise makes the earth balance too soft, which is why the dough needs to rise overnight in the fridge.

Anyway, if you keep everything cold enough, I think you'll find this fun and easy to make.

Apricot Danish Pastry (makes 12-- but it's easy to freeze half the dough and make just six at a time)
2 tablespoons of sugar
¼ cup of tepid water
1 tablespoon of dry active yeast
3/4 cup of (soy) milk at room temperature
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
8 oz. (two sticks) of butter (I used Earth Balance)

about 1/2 cup of apricot jam (100% fruit type)
12 preserved apricot halves, syrup reserved

reserved syrup

1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tbsp reserved syrup

Place the water, milk, sugar, and yeast in a bowl and leave for a few minutes to foam.

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and mix into the flour mixture. Create a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the yeast mixture. Fold the dough together with a few gentle strokes. Be careful to handle the dough as little as possible. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and leave the the refrigerator to rise overnight, or for 8 or so hours.
(The closed fold is on the right in this photo.)

After the dough has risen (it won't have risen dramatically), lightly coat a large cutting board, pastry cloth, or wax paper taped to the table with flour. Place the dough on the surface, and shape into a rough square. Roll it into a 16 in. square, and fold into third, like a buisness letter. The closed fold--like the spine of a book-- should face your left. (If the butter begins to soften at any point in the rolling-folding process, imediately pop the dough in the freezer for a quick cool-down.) Roll the dough out again into a 10x24 in. rectangle. Fold it in thirds again, the closed fold to your left, and roll out into a 20 in. square. Fold the square in thirds, so that you have a long rectangle, and turn the closed fold to your left. Roll the dough out once more into a 10x24 in. rectangle, and fold it in thirds again. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before proceeding.

After the dough has chilled, take it out of the fridge and cut in half. If you want to freeze half the dough, now is the time. (Note-- the apricots are enough for the full amount of pastry, so if you're only using half the dough, you'll only need 6.)

Lightly butter a cookie sheet. Roll each half of the dough into a 10x15 in. rectangle, and cut into 6 5 in. squares. Use a ruler. Put a dollop of jam in the center of each square, and an apricot half on top of the jam. Turn each corner of the dough up, so that they form a frame around the apricot. Use a bit of force to press them in. Place the pastries on the cookie sheet(s), and leave to rise for about half an hour, until the pastry is slightly puffy. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400 F.

Right before baking, brush each pastry with the reserved syrup. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Place on a rack to cool.

Mix the confectioners sugar with the syrup, and drizzle on each pastry after they have cooled a bit.

These are best enjoyed right away, but if you must keep them for a longer period, refresh them in a 350 F. oven before eating.


Cherie said...

Thank you so much for posting this!

madeinalaska said...

beautiful! I myself am not much of a baker.. but, those look awesome!

Caty said...

Thanks so much for the recipe, I can't wait to try it out!

SusanV said...

Wow! They're gorgeous and delicious looking. Wow! :-)

Anonymous said...

do you know if using smart balance in place of earth balance will work? we dont have EB near here.. but im trying to get some asap!

by the way, your danishes look amazing. :D

Connie said...

oooh! thanks for the recipe post. really, you should always post your recipes because everything you make looks great

bazu said...

that sounds fantastic. I love the close-up photo of your dough- you can really see all the layers!

Monika K said...

Your pictures are amazing! I want to make these pastries just so I can take their that weird? (-:

Village Vegan said...


I've never tried Smart Balance, so I can't say for sure if it will taste as good as Earth Balance. The "butter" really is the star in this pastry, so you should choose a brand that tastes as natural and buttery as possible.

I'd say go for it, and let me know how it turns out!

Monika K said...

Village V,

Amazing that you're moving to HD! I am just finishing my jr yr abroad here and finding it hard to leave...(-: The town is beautiful and perfect for students. Will you be living in the student apartments or renting something yourself? Living with or near Germans is a great way to practice - if you're studying German that is - and so many ppl here speak English that you'll be looking for every opportunity to practice. There are farmer's markets - but they're not always predictable (unless there is some magic internet listing that i never knew about). I live on the Hauptstrasse and just check the main squares on Saturday mornings for produce (the markets never stay open past 3pm - sometimes they close even earlier). As for places to eat - Germans make excellent salads (with shredded beets, carrots, cukes etc) so you can usually always find at least a salad to eat. There are several Indian restaurants, a Thai place, and a terrific falafel place - so I never ran out of options. Also, alot of the small grocery stores carry some local produce, and Germans love their "bio" or organic ingredients. Wow, I've said too much for a "comment," but feel free to ask any questions - I just feel bad that I'll already by gone by the time you get here. I know you'll have a blast though! (Are you studying German? Coming early for the Max Weber Haus language prepatory course? I'd highly recommend it!)

Mahek said...

you take such such great photos

Mihl said...

So cool! I have to try this.

vko said...

Simply impressive!!

Anonymous said...

Bless you're heart for posting this. Other vegan bloggers have been keeping their recipes a secret from the drooling public for way too long.

Abby said...

Your instructions and photos were really helpful! Made these for a Christmas Eve Breakfast and were a hit!! Can't wait to make more!

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River - The Crafty Kook said...

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I made your pastry dough and it was wonderfully flaky and buttery. And so easy! Definitely a keeper! :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the recipe. I was afraid that i wouldn't get the flakey layers, but I took your advice to freeze when the dough looks a little melted. I also kept the EB cubes whole when mixing in the wet with dry, which I wasn't sure if I should have done, but it turned out great!

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