Saturday 24 March 2012

A flour by any other number… (Danish pastries)

A couple of weeks ago I saw a recipe for Danish pastries which I thought interesting. The recipe states that you should use 00 flour to make them. I’ve never seen 00 flour here in normal supermarkets (you can check the packet. Sometimes it says the type – I found types 45 and 65, which are your normal flours. More often than not, it doesn’t give the type). So, all in the name of research, I invested in two flours and made two batches of pastries, one using ‘patisserie’ and the other using ‘pain’ (pastry and bread). I had a quick look at the ingredients in the flours. The bread flour contained a mixture of different types of flour, including wheat, bean (? ‘fève’, which is a pulse) and soya, whereas the pastry flour contained only wheat flour.

I made the pastries over a day, starting on Friday evening and finishing on Saturday afternoon. I did the second roll-fold-and-chill on Saturday morning and the third on Saturday lunchtime. There is no kneading involved, so it is less labour intensive than bread (which I also made this weekend). 

Danish pastries
For the starter
1 cube of fresh yeast (the original recipe used dried yeast, but fresh yeast is widely available here, and I find it easier to use)
75ml warm water
50g of your chosen flour

For the dough
75ml cold milk
2 egg yolks
50ml cold cream
25g caster sugar
250g cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-2cm cubes
300g of your chosen flour, plus extra for rolling
1 tsp salt
Beaten egg, to finish

For the starter, in a warm bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water, beat in the flour until smooth, cover and leave for an hour to bubble. I covered the starter and then the dough with a damp tea towel. This prevents the dough from forming a skin on top.

Make the dough by whisking the milk, egg yolks, cream and sugar into the starter, followed first by the butter cubes and then by the flour and salt. Stir everything together to a rough, lumpy dough, scoop it out on to a floured worktop and roll out to 1cm thick. Fold it in by thirds, roll it out again as before, fold it in by thirds again, then wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Repeat this rolling and chilling sequence twice more, then roll and shape as needed. So, this is after the third rolling. Can you spot the difference?
Danish pastry dough, pastry flour on the left; bread flour on the right

For raisin danish
Roll a piece of dough to 30cm x 15cm x 1cm thick. Brush the surface with water (or spread with a thin layer of custard) and generously dot with plump, dark raisins. Roll tightly up along the length, so you have a short, fat scroll, seal the end with water, then cut into four wheels.
Alternative: roll a piece of marzipan out to about 30x12x1 and place this on top of the dough. Sprinkle with raisins and continue as above. Or sprinkle the dough with chocolate chips.
I made one lot of raisin (pastry flour) and one lot of dried cranberries (using the bread flour).
Raw Danish pastries, with dried cranberries
and filled with raisins

Rising and baking

Line a baking tray with nonstick paper, put the prepared pastries on top, cover loosely with clingfilm, and leave the shaped dough to rise somewhere warm until almost doubled in size. Once risen, brush with beaten egg and bake at 200C for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 180C and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until crisp.
Cranberry Danishes
Raisin Danishes
Verdict? Well, once you get over the amount of butter in these, they are divine! Buttery, crumbly, flaky, light… OMG. I got about 24 Danishes from the two lots (ie: 12 pastries per lot), and I can’t wait for another excuse to eat another one.

And for the difference between the flours? None really that I can see. Both raised well, they both taste the same (I might have to have another two to check that though), both were easy to use… I have photos, so I’ll get them up asap so that you can decide for yourselves.
Next time, I would use a little less butter – only about 10-20 grams less.

Update: I found this site: with an explanation about flours. Seems that in French speaking countries, they have their own system for classifying them! Now, at the moment (24.03.12/19.02), I am no closer to uncovering what type 00 is 'in French' but the nice Jean-Hugues of the former site has a list of what French flours can be used to make which goodies. Unfortunately, he doesn't mention which corresponds to the Italian 00. It could be T45, but I'm going to investigate further. Also, to further complicate matters, the flour I used in my baking this weekend doesn't list the type it is!
Someone contacted me to say that you can buy 00 four in the GB at Place Jourdan, but that it is quite expensive.

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