This time I thought I would give you a picture of the finished product before you get started so you can see just how worth making these little pastries are.
Don't they look mouth-wateringly good? The recipe for these comes from my friend Annemette, who is twice as Danish as me, and is currently residing in Westport. We went to visit her and her partner Paul a couple of weeks ago. On the rainy day we had while visiting, she and I cooked up a storm producing these and Medaljer, the recipe for I'll post later.
I've supplemented the pictures that I took there with a couple I took myself while having a go at them this weekend, so don't be surprised by different counter tops.
These pastries bear no resemblence to the "Danishes" you find in your local shop, they are a highly potent mix of butter and sugar.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I do and remember, you'll be able to boast that you can make your own Danish pastries now!
There is quite a bit of work in these little pastries and they do involve using yeast, but never fear, it will be worth it. The first thing to do is measure out the milk into a heat proof jug or bowl and heat it in the microwave for between 40 seconds to 1 minute depending on the strength of your machine.
To test the temperature of the milk, stick in a clean finger and if it burns, it's too hot. It should be warm, not too warm. Then add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Sprinkle in the yeast, stir and leave to one side until it starts to froth. This will take between 5 and 15 mins.
I'm afraid I don't have a great picture of the frothing but you can't mistake it. Lots of bubbles will appear on the top, even more than are in the picture below.
When the yeast mixture has frothed up, add the salt and the egg and whisk together.
Next you mix in the first 100g of butter. Make sure that you have softened it before adding. For best results it should be half melted and half solid. Whisk the butter in with the rest of the mixture.
Measure out the flour into a separate bowl and slowly add it bit by bit to the liquid mixture. Stir it all together until it makes a soft dough. You should be left with some flour over, you will need to use this while kneading the dough.
Turn the dough out onto the well floured counter-top and knead the dough lightly for a couple of minutes. Click below to watch a video of Annemette kneading the dough. As you can see, you use the leftover flour to keep the dough from sticking to the counter.
After a couple of minutes of kneading, the dough should be a soft, round ball. Put this back in the bowl and cover. Leave to one side in a warm place and allow the dough to rise. This will take 30 minutes.
While the dough is rising, it's time to make the filling for the snails and have a cup of tea.
Put the brown sugar and the second 100g of butter into a bowl together. Add the cinnamon and beat together using a fork and elbow grease. You could possibly use an electric hand mixer, but I've not tried it, so if you do, let me know if it works!
The ingredients should start to come together into a paste. To help get the butter started, if it's a bit cold, you can microwave it, but I wouldn't do so for longer than 10 seconds.
Once the paste is smooth, put it to the side and have a cup of tea while waiting for the dough to finish rising, you deserve it after all your hard work!
After 30 minutes, check on the dough, it should have just about doubled in size. Tip it out onto a well floured counter or board and form into a long rectangle. This is the point at which you should start to preheat your oven to 220°C.
Time to roll out the pastry. You want to make it into a large rectangle, about 30 cms by 60 cms. The important thing it to try and keep the short edge ends straight as this will be important when rolling it.
Next, you have to spread out the filling over the pastry as evenly as possible. You should also do this as carefully as you can because the pastry will be quite thin at this point and can tear if handled too roughly. The best way to go about this is to put a lump of the filling on the pastry and carefuly spread it out using a palette knife or an ordinary knife.
At this point you can add a little extra cinnamon by sprinkling it over the top of the filling, this is entirely up to you, I've made them with and without the extra cinnamon and they both taste good.
The next part is possibly the trickest thing in the whole recipe, rolling up the pastry. Start at the long edge closest to you and carefully lift up the edge and curl it in towards the rest of the pastry. Gently roll it over and over, making sure the short edges and keep in line with each other and that you have a fairly straight roll across the centre.
You should finish up with a sausage like roll. This roll is then cut in half, then into quarters and the quarters are cut into thirds giving you 12 pillow like squares.
Place each square end up, so that you can see the spiralling centre, on a baking tray that is either thoroughly greased or covered in baking paper. Keep them nicely spaced out. An average sized baking tray will take 6 at a time.
Carefully squish down each parcel, to a height of approximately 1 cm. While squishing, try and make sure that the central spiral pattern remains visible. When you have them squashed down, make sure that the outside edge of the spiral is well tucked in against the side of the rest of the pastry, otherwise this will unravel during cooking.
Beat an egg in a bowl and brush the pastries with this to give the pastries a nice glazed look when they have cooked. Put into the oven for 7 - 8 minutes.
The snails will be done when they turn a deep golden brown colour. Leave them to cool on a wire rack for 20 - 30 minutes. While they are cooling make up the icing by mixing the icing sugar and water together until they form a smooth, slightly runny paste.
When they are cool, drizzle the icing on the top of them and let it set, this takes about 5 minutes, or you can just scoff them, runny icing and all.
That's it! The quite long, but, I hope, not too complicated method for making your own Danish pastries. They will keep nicely in the frezer for up to 3 months, or just eat them in a couple of days like we do, though they may need toasting after the second day. I really hope you enjoy these, do let me know how you get on and perhaps link to a picture of your attempt.