Ok, this is the most simple, fascinating dessert I have ever made and consumed. It is extremely versatile and quick, and disappears faster than you can blink.
First of all- some background on Danish Pastries- it is a dough that has layers upon layers of dough and butter. During baking, the yeast in the dough expands and the gluten from the flour holds the yeast bubbles in (like an expanding balloon) When you have layers upon layers of butter in between layers upon layers of dough, this keeps the bubbles from forming all together like you would see in a loaf of sandwich bread. THIS, my friend is what causes flakes. Delicious buttery flakes.
See how in the picture the dough has bubbles? that is the CO2 from the yeast fermentation. The laminated dough has layers of butter- which keeps the dough separated, and flaky. The dough on the right is a typical bread dough, all contained together. I love bread, too.
I have made dough from scratch. It takes hours upon hours of waiting and working and waiting. And unless you have a giant dough sheeter and a walk in fridge in your kitchen it is by no means a simple task. You have to take dough, add in some butter, and fold, refrigerate, sheet out, fold, refrigerate, sheet out, fold, refrigerate…..several times, and you end up with like 80-some layers if I remember right. (if you do a 3-fold every time????) you do the math…..It's been too long since I've had time to think about such nonsense.
So an easier way you ask?
Pepperidge farm makes a nice affordable dough that I like to use. They don't use butter. Which is normally quite the turn off. But for the <$4 price tag, I usually get over it.
This dough is laminated so fast it makes me scream. I've honestly seen this happen. the take a whole lot of dough, and instead of endless 3-folds, they just stick the millions of layers all together in one spot, and then sheet it out some more. It's a miracle, I think my next purchase is going to take up my whole house……I love laminated dough that much.
So back to the recipe at hand. follow the instructions on the package to thaw on a metal baking sheet lined. Sometimes when I unfold the flaps, some of the dough rips at the seams, so I gently push it all back together with my fingers. Remember this is a delicate dough, so be nice to the edges and the seams. If you are not nice, the dough will punish you buy not rising up to wonderful flaky layers during baking. You do not want to miss out on wonderful flaky layers. I know that for a fact.
Then, I take one sheet of dough and designate it for my tried and true square shape. It always looks fabulous and even though I spend hours upon hours figuring out what other shapes would be good, taking notes when I see other shapes and vow to try them, I lose all creativity when it gets down to the wire and end up using the same shape. It's the only thing I know.
Cut the dough using a pizza cutter- so you don't disturb the layered edges- into 9 squares. then fold in half diagonally and snip a quarter inch from the edge, starting on the folded side, not quite to the corner. Do this on both edges. Unfold, spread on some egg wash, fold the loose edge flappys to the opposite side and voila! brush again with egg wash and you are ready to fill! Try to work quickly, you do not want this dough to un-laminate. For filling in a pinch I like canned cherry pie filling. If I’m in an ambitious mood, I make some cream cheese filling. Chocolate filling would be heavenly too, I just thought of how irresistible chocolate crescents are and wow….I'm going to have to buy more dough!
But there are so many flavors out there- be creative, make it fresh from scratch! For my other piece of dough, I usually end up making some square creation or other not-as-pretty nonsense. It's just my creativity overflowing, I know…..
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until you've got some delicious golden brown crusts staring at you. Remember if you take a bite right now, you are going to curse me because the filling is super duper hot. Hold back all inhibitions for at least 15 minutes. You'll thank me later.
For these, I made some chocolate ganache for drizzling. It's just so delicious…… powdered sugar icing runs a close 2nd place
pre-laminated dough found in the freezer section.
Cherry Pie Filling- or your own creation of fabulousness
Chocolate ganache icing. To be completely honest I did not measure any of this out. I rarely do, life is just so much less complicated when I don't have measuring cups to wash in my sink. But I have a good estimate of what I used.
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. butter
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (or a blend of semi-sweet and bittersweet is good too) you can use chips, chunks, squares, whatever.
Heat whipping cream and butter in microwave safe container for 30 seconds at a time until butter is melted (1 minute total) Add chocolate and stir until melted. Try not to heat it again after you add the chocolate, but sometimes it is necessary- just do 15 seconds. Refrigerate until room temp or slightly cooler. We want this workable, not too hard or runny.