“Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” Hans Christian Andersen
Danish pastry, called wienerbrød in Danish is a laminated yeast-leavened dough, with a texture similar to puff pastry.
The origin of the Danish pastry is known to be related to the 1850 strike that forced the Danish bakery owners to hire workers from abroad and among these several Austrian bakers, who brought along their own baking traditions and pastry recipes, unfamiliar in Denmark. The Austrian pastry of Plundergebäck, soon became popular in Denmark and after the labour disputes ended, Danish bakers adopted the Austrian recipes, but adjusted them to their own liking and traditions, which development resulted in what is now known as the Danish pastry.
My grandmother who had Swabian-Austrian origins, effortlessly used the advanced lamination technique. Her recipe is extremely versatile and can be used to make a variety of delicious sweet and savoury, plain and filled pastries with different, neat shapes.
500 g flour
10 g salt
80 g caster sugar
20 g fresh yeast
2 medium eggs
210 ml full-fat milk
250 g butter
Put the flour into the bowl, add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and make a well for the yeast to the other. Add some milk, crumble in the yeast and let it foam. Add the eggs, the rest of the milk and mix. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Dust with flour, put into a clean plastic bag and chill in the fridge for an hour. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your chilled dough to a rectangle, about 1 cm thick. Flatten the butter to a rectangle, and lay on the dough so that it covers the bottom two-thirds of it. Fold the exposed dough at the top down one-third of the butter, then cut off the exposed bit of butter, without going through the dough, and place it on the top of the folded down dough. Fold the bottom half of the dough up, creating a sandwich of two layers of butter and three of dough. Pinch the edges lightly to seal in the butter. Put the dough back in the plastic bag and chill for an hour to harden butter. Repeat the folding three times.
(Take the dough out of the bag and put it on the lightly floured surface with the short end towards the self. Roll it out to a rectangle, fold up one-third of the dough and then fold the top third down on top in a single turn.) Finally leave the dough in the fridge for 8 hours, or overnight to rest and rise slightly.
“The whole world is a series of miracles, but we’re so used to them we call them ordinary things.” Hans Christian Andersen