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Sunday
Jun292008

Dough You Love Me: A Laminated Pastry Dough FAQ and a Daring Bakers Challenge

Danish Pastry Time

It's late June, and high time for another Daring Bakers Challenge. This month's challenge? A Danish Braid. What, never heard of Danish Braid? Well, neither had we, but let us tell you, it's one doozy of a recipe (check it out here), prominently featuring laminated dough--a component which can strike fear into the hearts of even accomplished bakers. OK, to be fair though, perhaps it's not so much difficult as it is time consuming and trying on one's patience, what with its multiple between-step chillings and wait periods. However, rather than using these lag times to say, watch Law & Order or to read In Touch Weekly we instead took it upon ourselves to become better acquainted with the world of laminated doughs--here's a bit of what we learned:

 

You say that Danish Dough is a laminated dough. What precisely does that mean?
According to Baking911.com, "Laminated Dough" is made by encasing butter in dough, and taking it through a series of folds, rolling and turns to produce layers of butter in between sheets of dough. The leavening in these doughs is mainly derived from the steam generated by the moisture from the butter--the laminated fat traps water vapor and carbon dioxide formed during baking, and as steam expands in the oven, it lifts and separates the individual layers.

One of the more famous types of laminated dough is Puff Pastry (which makes mille-fueilles), which rises solely on the steam and has a bit more butter; however, Danish dough, its close laminated cousin, gets an added lift (literally) from yeast.

 

Additionally, as smart and cute Cakespy reader E-Dizzle clarifies:

There are three basic laminated doughs: Puff pastry has no yeast, and is used to make yummy things like palmiers, cheese twists and any sort of super-flaky tart or crust. The dough itself isn't sweet, so it can be used for sweet or savory pastries.

 

Croissant dough and danish dough are very similar, both containing yeast. But croissant doughs are considered very "lean" (crazy, I know) because the detrempe (which I just call "the doughy bit") has only flour, salt, water and yeast. Danish dough, however, is considered "rich" because it contains eggs and dairy, and sometimes sugar.



In the recipe, there's a term called "détrempe". What is that?
We think we figured it out though: détrempe refers to the dough part of the pastry, before the second part, the "beurrage"--the butter part--is added, which is what "laminates" it (in shiny buttery deliciousness).
Croissants at Belle Epicurean at their stand in the University MarketHello, Carbohydrates!
So...in layman's terms, what is the difference between Danish Dough and Puff Pastry (two of the laminated doughs cited above)?
Puff Pastry has more butter and no yeast--the resulting pastry is flaky and melt-in-your-mouth buttery. Danish dough contains yeast, which we find gives it a slightly chewier and less flaky texture.

 

Carbohydrates!If they were to have a faceoff, which would win--puff pastry or danish dough?
Really, would you ask us to choose between a flaky puff pastry or a delicious Danish? Apples and oranges, we tell you. Surely here's enough room in the world for all sorts of dough. Vive le carbohydrate!

What are some examples of pastries made with Danish Dough?
Well, the Danish, naturally--but pinwheels, envelopes and turnovers are frequently made using this type of dough. Also, though not always, a lot of kolache recipes call for a Danish-y dough.

Kolaches, Great Harvest Bread, Ballard, SeattleWhoa, sidebar: what's a kolache?
According to Wikipedia, Kolache (also spelled kolace, kolach, or kolacky, from the Czech and Slovak plural koláče) are a type of pastry consisting of fillings ranging from fruits to cheeses inside a bread roll. Originally only a sweet dessert from Central Europe, they have become popular in parts of the United States (strangely, they seem to have a big concentration in the American midwest, with kolache havens occurring in Oklahoma and Texas, which both boast annual Kolache festivals; however, Montgomery MN cites itself as the "Kolacky Capital of the World". Fighting words, anyone?). A picture of a kolache we found in Seattle at the Great Harvest Bread Company's Ballard location, is pictured left.

 

Can puff pastry and Danish Dough be used interchangeably?Columbia City Bakery Fruit and Cream Danish

We can't say for sure since we haven't tried, and really there would be nothing wrong with the flavor combinations per se--in fact, we've even seen Danish that has had the distinct look of puff pastry (see left, photo of a cream-and-fruit Danish from the Columbia City Bakery in Seattle). Will we be making this leap in the future though? Don't look out for it--our fear of ruining a delicious recipe is too great. Though perhaps this just means we're pastry prudes who badly need to take a walk on the wild side.

 

Why does it take so long to make my own dough?

Well, they say that Rome wasn't built in a day, and similarly, good Danish Dough must not be rushed. While the waiting periods (a half hour here to chill, another half hour there) may seem fussy, we advise that you wait it out--the taste of your baked goods will reward you at the end. And plus, all of those waiting periods leave you so much time to find cool stuff on the internet or even to drop by the nearest bakery to pick up an appetizer sweet.
Why are so many laminated doughs braided, slit or otherwise disfigured on top?
Though this can add visual appeal, it is mainly to let excess steam out while baking.
...speaking of which, shouldn't you be checking on your Danish braid about now?
#$%! Be right back.

Pastry Time!
(Several moments pass; we return to our questioning, with the slightest bit of sugary glaze and fruit filling still clinging around the corners of our mouths--see left).

It's clear your mind is on other things now. So...where can I learn more about laminated doughs?
Well, we recently saw a great show by Alton Brown explaining all about Puff Pastry (and boy is he cute!), or you could also turn to puffpastry.com, a site operated by Pepperidge Farms which has recipes, forums and information on laminated doughs; for more information on all things laminated dough (both Puff Pastry and Danish Dough), also visit baking911.com!
Postscript: The chewing resumes, the light dims, and yes--our spies realize that really and truly, homemade Danish Dough--especially when filled with fresh preserves (we chose cherry)--is a thing of beauty.

 

Reader Comments (57)

Love the top picture and how crunchy the sugar looks on the top. Really nice braid - I'm kinda sorry it's over and all the danish braid has been devoured. I suppose I know how to remedy that.

June 29 | Unregistered Commentergiz

Awesome work! And all that sugar on top! Droooool.

A very lovely post!

June 29 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

It's not the shiny buttery deliciousness that gives it the name laminated dough. It's actually called that because the process creates many thin layers. Which is what laminate really means.

June 29 | Unregistered CommenterPinky

if my classes at school had been this interesting and informative, i probably would've been a better student. thanks for the well-researched info!

June 30 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

I'm so jealous of all those layers! Your danish looks amazing!

GREAT post! Love the FAQs and of course the first picture with the usual funny additions - Thanks for my most recent smile on my face!

Alexandra

June 30 | Unregistered CommenterSweet Tooth

Love the choice of filling, love the extra information regarding lamented dough, love the photographs - LOVE IT ALL!! :0)

June 30 | Unregistered CommenterVeggieGirl

YUM!!! Thanks for the delicious nuggets of info that came with your post.What a great danish; & spot on!! Rome wasn't built in a day & why choose when we can have both & more...Great job Jessie!! Those layers are out of this world!!

Informative post! Your danish looks flaky and delicious!
Shari@http://www.whiskblog.com/" REL="nofollow">Whisk: a food blog

June 30 | Unregistered CommenterShari

wow!! your dough has some amazing layers!

June 30 | Unregistered CommenterLorrie

I loooove you FAQ section about everything you wanted to know about laminated doughs! Beautiful braid

June 30 | Unregistered Commenteronespicymama

Wow!! That is the best danish braid I've seen so far. It looks perfect!! So flakey.

Wow, you did some fabulous stuff with that dough! And i love the FAQs....

June 30 | Unregistered CommenterLesley

Beautiful danish, and a very informative post. (Like always!!)

June 30 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah

Beautiful Danish! I love the interview format you've used.

June 30 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

although i do think law and order repeats a perfectly good use of time, i think making puff pastry an even better one!~
these all look delicious and i really want to try one of those kolache things. they look divine....

Thank goodness there are people like you who feed people like me.

If I ever thought for a split second I could bake such a thing of beauty, it all went out the window with this most informative, almost intimidating post. The glistening sugar captures the essence of the dough fabulously.

July 1 | Unregistered Commenter~~Louise~~

Hi Cakespy! Just wanted to let you guys know that The Chocolate Nerd is doing a Liz Lovely Cookie Giveaway! Heads up! Best, Imani

Cool post! I didn't even stop to think why danish dough and puff pastry were different. I must admit, I think I like the density of puff pastry better, but the "less butter" of danish dough! Great job.

July 1 | Unregistered CommenterClaire

Once again, I open your post from my reader, and a big smile spreads across my face. :)

I loved this post! And I love the sugar addition, so pretty!

July 1 | Unregistered Commentershellyfish

Wow I am envious of your baking ability! Can you tell me the ingredients you used for your dough? I'm trying to figure out why my dough wasn't even the slightest bit flaky. I'm thinking it might be a yeast issue... ?

Anyway, your Danish is the awesomest one I've see so far!

Great post about the different kinds of laminated doughs, and great job on this challenge. Thank you for baking with us :)

July 1 | Unregistered CommenterBen

How to Eat a Cupcake: I am going to admit it--I think I accidentally put in too much butter. Actually, now that I look, I think I put in a lot too much butter--my 2 sticks were actually a bigger stick than standard. Oops, but it was delicious. Funny how nobody complained Chez Cakespy about it being too buttery or too sugary. :-)

July 1 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy
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