I kind of feel that most of the things I set out to do are for the same reason: to prove I can. Like, yeah, I probably could make Danish pastries (although could does not mean should, as I believe Jurassic Park went to great lengths to prove), and I probably could make a laminated dough despite having never actually done that before. Not enough margin for error here to make it interesting: let’s make it vegan. God, I irritate myself so much.
So, I did several things here! First of all: laminated pastry; that’s the kind with a ton of butter rolled between it to create lots of crisp, flaky layers. The difference between Danish and puff pastry dough is that the former uses yeast, whereas puff pastry depends on the steam to rise. Think of, like, croissants. The thing you’ll hear a lot is that you want to use Danish butter - like Lurpak - for a laminated dough, which is all well and good unless you’re a total dick who’s got two thumbs and wants to make vegan pastries.
I thought about this a lot: the risk with using a vegan margarine here is actually less about flavour (which is pretty good these days) and more about water content. My first choice would have been Stork margarine, the one that comes in a solid block form and is better for pastry. This is vegan, btw! and will mostly behave like butter here, But the stuff in the tub is NOT. What I ended up using was in fact Pure soya spread, which is obviously softer than butter and plays slightly differently. I had to add a lot more flour during the laminating process to keep it together, and while I ended up with the layers I wanted, they weren’t very crisp. I know; I should’ve done a control batch with real butter! But oh man, give me a break, I’d taken on enough.
Adapting the basic dough was actually pretty easy. I looked at a bunch of recipes online but went with this one as my starter; the role of the egg here is like in a brioche, for richness. I subbed in oil for texture and richness. This was a BEAUTIFUL dough, so easy to handle.
The most traditional filling for Danish is a paste of sugar, almonds and butter, called remonce. I can’t look at a recipe for more than five minutes without adding pistachios, so I used them instead of almonds.This is therefore pretty nontraditional? probably? but at this point just imagine I’ve already been thrown out of the metaphorical French pastry school I never actually attended. Also, pistachios and apricots are amazing together, so who cares. Do the thing.
These were fancy apricots from a jar, with amaretto liquor. I have no idea where they came from. You could use tinned apricots in syrup, which would actually be super convenient as I brushed the pastries with a syrup wash rather than an egg wash before baking.
A final point! I went to all this trouble and then I’m putting up shitty photos, gomen. Things are on edge here this week, blog posting may take a back seat, I’ll be back on form asap. Take care, drink good coffee, and eat good pastries.
For the dough (détrempe):
180ml (2/3 cup) milk
30g (2 tablespoons) sugar
1 ½ teaspoons (6 grams) instant yeast
280g ounces (2 cups) plain (AP) flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
For the butter slab:
225g vegan butter substitute (see notes above)
2 tablespoons flour (more required for softer margarine)
Combine all the dough ingredients in a mixer and, using the dough hook, mix about five minutes until the dough is smooth and uniform. It may be slightly tacky to the touch. Leave to rest for half an hour at room temperature, then chill in the fridge for two hours, or overnight.
To laminate dough: I used the tutorial found here. That’s, uh, the bit from making your butter slab, up until you roll it into a big rectangle and fold it like a letter. For Danish, you’ll want to carry on rolling and folding three times in total, letting the dough rest for 15-20 minutes in between turns. Allow to chill now for at least an hour.
For the pistachio remonce:
75g (3oz) shelled pistachios
75g (3oz) caster sugar
15g (1/2oz) vegan margarine
a little soy milk, to bring it together
Grind the pistachios in a food processor to a fine meal, the texture of ground almonds (almond meal). Don’t go too far or you’ll end up with pistachio butter. Combine this with the sugar in a bowl, and mix in the butter - I found the best way was to rub it in with the fingertips, like adding butter to pastry. Add a little soy milk, 1tsp at a time, to bring it together to a sticky paste. This time you do want it to look like pistachio butter.
Roll out your dough - I didn’t measure mine, cause I’m an idiot, but cut into 12 equal squares.
Tin or jar of apricots in syrup (a 320g tin would probably be enough)
Sugar syrup to glaze (I used a little golden syrup thinned out with water) in place of an egg wash.
To make the turnover shape above, spread 1 tsp of remonce in the centre of each square (I made a little diagonal line), sit two apricot halves on top, then pull the corners over to tuck them in. Brush sugar syrup over the top with a pastry brush. Repeat for each - I didn’t have quite enough apricots, so I made two or three pinwheels with just remonce in the centre.
Once shaped and filled, let the pastries sit for another 30 minutes or so - they may puff up a little more. Bake at 180C until risen and golden, around 20-25 minutes.
Once you’ve removed the pastries from the oven and put them on a wire rack to cool, you can also brush them with a glaze of icing sugar (powdered sugar) and water, which will make them shiny and sticky and how you imagine proper Danish. Hells yeah.