Lemon Danish for a Danish Dad
Happy Father’s Day!
I was swamped and never did a Mother’s Day post but this year I made a quiche for my carb-abstaining Mother. I actually really need to post that recipe for a multitude of reasons but let’s leave that to another day because today is all about the Dads!
I’m lucky enough to have two Fathers in my life. Hopefully as a more socially tolerant world evolves more young ladies will get to say that in the future. My Dads aren’t partners, one is my “Bio-Dad” and one is my “Step-Dad” married to the Meat-eating Mom. Still, whether straight or gay, having two Dads is kind of awesome. I’m lucky to have two who genuinely do care and love me. Each in their own way though I will say that explaining the situation surrounding “Bio-Dad” aka “Korea Dad” can be a bit complicated. It isn’t the easiest relationship to explain since he lives thousands upon thousands miles and 16 hours ahead of me. I don’t really get to celebrate Father’s Day with him.
My “Step-Dad” or “Danish Dad” as he’d probably like to call himself, I see nearly every day. This is largely driven by the fact that I live at home. I have to admit that if I saw a little less of my parents I wouldn’t complain. Only because I do prefer my independence and having lived alone for several years, miss some of the benefits that go along with that. An upside though is that “Danish Dad” is always happy to eat anything I bake which makes it a lot easier for me to NOT eat them.
He has also been there for me in the middle of the night to put aloe on a second degree sunburn, let me cry when I broke up with a boyfriend the night before a chem final, taught me to drive, brought me the joy of sushi and even smiled when a boyfriend gave me the exact same Christmas gift my Dad had purchased for me but didn’t get to give me first. In short he’s been kind of awesome.
That’s why I want to dedicate my first ever try at making homemade Danish to Father’s Day! See my Step-Dad is from Denmark. Betcha didn’t guess that from the “Danish Dad” reference. Um Olivia, yes we did. Yes you’re very smart. Shut up. (What’s that from? Win a prize!) Danish Dad moved to Chicago from Denmark as a very young child but he’s still very proud of his homeland and will loudly proclaim the prowess of both Vikings and The Chicago Cubs given any opportunity.
Of course then I remind him I’m a Yankees fan descended from the Celts. He loves me anyway and as far as he’s concerned I’m just as Danish as he is. Why? “Because you’re my daughter and we don’t care about that blood nonsense.” Proof in the pudding that he’s a good Dad right there. Proof that biological goo is not the only basis for parenthood. Proof that there are a number of great Dads out there, biological or not, who should be celebrated today.
This was my first time making a complicated pastry dough from scratch. Danish pastry is a slightly more forgiving dough than puff pastry and croissants; Julia Child is also far from a stickler to needless tradition meaning you get to use a food processor to speed this up. A food processor is actually going to produce superior product because you can work faster and therefore keep your butter colder–just like with making pie dough. I think the dough came out really well, it was so yeasty and fluffy!
I rolled out the dough to make a “Danish Slice” which essentially danish pastry dough filled with cheese/fruit jam/curd and baked in a long strip that you cut into slices. They puffed out more than I anticipated so I’m glad I went simple the first time rather than trying a fancy braid or pinwheels. For filling I went two ways: 1) Lemon cheese topped with lemon vanilla confiture and 2) Blueberry preserves. The lemon cheese was far above in flavor and that’s no surprise. I used lemon quark I bought at the farmer’s market. You can replicate it with a blend of a creamy soft cream cheese and lemon curd. Lemon confiture are lemon peels preserved in a sugar syrup that I infused with a vanilla bean. Mmmmm jellied lemon peel…. Anyway here’s the recipe for the pastry dough itself. This post is already going to be pretty long so I’ll hold off on the Danish Slice process for another time. Gee, that means I’ll have to make this again? Dad’s gonna hate that :-)
Danish Pastry Dough
from Julia Child – published in “Baking with Julia” by Dorie Greenspan
- 1/4 cup warm water (105ºF to 115ºF)
- 2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter
Mixing the Dough
Pour the water into a large bowl, sprinkle over the yeast, and let it soften for a minute. Add the milk, egg, sugar, and salt and whisk to mix; set aside.
Put the flour in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Cut the butter into 1/4-inch-thick slices and drop them onto the flour. Pulse 8 to 10 times, until the butter is cut into pieces that are about 1/2 inch in diameter. Don’t overdo this — the pieces must not be smaller than 1/2 inch.
Empty the contents of the food processor into the bowl with the yeast and, working with a rubber spatula, very gently turn the mixture over, scraping the bowl as needed, just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Again, don’t be too energetic-the butter must remain in discrete pieces so that you will produce a flaky pastry, not a bread or cookie dough.
Chilling the Dough
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight or for up to 4 days, (if that better suits your schedule).
Rolling and Folding
Lightly flour a work surface (a cool surface, such as marble, is ideal), turn the dough out onto it, and dust the dough lightly with flour. Using the palms of your hands, pat the dough into a rough square. Then roll it into a square about 16 inches on a side. (A French rolling pin, one without handles, is best here.) Fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter, and turn it so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. (if at any time the dough gets too soft to roll, just cover it with plastic wrap and pop it into the refrigerator for a quick chill.)
Roll the dough out again, this time into a long narrow rectangle, about 10 inches wide by 24
inches long. Fold the rectangle in thirds again, turn it so the closed fold is to your left, and roll it into a 20-inch square. Fold the square in thirds, like a business letter, so that you have a rectangle, turning it so that the closed fold is to your left, and, once more, roll the dough into a long narrow rectangle, 10 inches wide by 24 inches long. Fold in thirds again, wrap the dough well in plastic, and chill it for at least 30 minutes, or for as long as 2 days. (Depending on what you plan to do with the dough, you might want to divide it in half now.)
The dough is now ready to be shaped, filled, and baked, following the recipes of your choice.
The dough can be kept covered in the refrigerator for 4 days or wrapped airtight and frozen for 1 month; thaw overnight, still wrapped, in the refrigerator.
Yield: Makes 2 pounds of dough