Danish Pastry Dough (for Cinnamon Rolls and More)
This is danish pastry dough the way I make it - based on the recipe from the Fanny Farmer Baking Book. It is time-consuming. It sounds complicated, but with a little practice it's not nearly as difficult as it sounds, and the results are well-worth the effort. This dough makes the most delicious, flaky, rich, melt-in-your mouth cinnamon rolls, but can also be used to make any number of pastries - plain or fancy. Use a yeast formulated for sweet dough if you can find it, otherwise regular yeast will work just fine. Also be sure to use all-purpose or pastry flour - not high-gluten bread flour.
"I made this yesterday and it is amazing! it was so easy..........time consuming ,yes.......but the results are perfect . I made cinnamon rolls with 1/4 of the dough and they were the best I have ever eaten. I look forward to making cheese danish,croissants and more!! Thank you!!!!"- stonecreek4
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Danish Pastry Dough (for Cinnamon Rolls and More) Preparation
Place all ingredients for yeast dough in bread machine and start on dough cycle. While the dough is mixing, prepare the butter mixture: Cut each stick of butter into 8 or more pieces, place in a small mixing bowl and sprinkle with the 1/4 cup flour. Work with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorportated, mushing it together with your hands if necessary. When the butter and flour are mixed together, form the mass into a rectangle and place between two large sheets of waxed paper and roll into a rectangle. I use a 16x20 inch pastry board for this recipe, and roll the butter mixture out to not quite half the size of the board - about 7x19 inches. Place the butter mixture in the fridge while the yeast dough finishes mixing.
When the dough is finished mixing, let it rest only about 15 minutes, then turn out onto a well-floured pastry board. The dough will be quite sticky, but the flour necessary to roll and turn it several times will eventually firm it up somewhat. Roll the dough out and just over the edges of the pastry board. Remove one sheet of waxed paper from the butter mixture, and place it over half the dough mixture, so that the edge of the butter is in the center of the dough, with a slight edge of dough around the other three sides. Flip the dough over to cover the butter (you will likely have to use a dough scraper or knife to loosen the dough from the pastry board) and seal the edges - encasing the butter in the dough. Now loosen the dough and place in the middle of the the pastry board (again using a dough scraper or knife as necessary), and roll the dough out into a rectangle the size of the board. Now loosen the dough on one side and fold it over so the seam is in the middle, then loosen the dough on the other side, and fold it over to cover - folding the whole mass in thirds like you would a business envelope. Place on a floured baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes up to a few hours. This completes the first turn.
Take the dough out and place on the floured pastry board. Roll it out into a rectangle the size of the board again, then fold in thirds again. Put it back on the baking sheet in the fridge for another 45 minute-to-a-few-hours rest. This completes the second turn.
Back to the fridge for 45 minues or more, then roll it out and fold it in threes - you guessed it - the third thurn.
Back to the fridge, roll it out, fold it in threes - the fourth and final turn. Is all this rolling, folding, cooling and resting really neceassary? Geez! It just seems like so much work! Yes, it is absolutly necessary - this simple but time-consuming process is what develops the buttery, flaky layers that make this pastry dough simply out of this word - better than anything you will buy in the store or bakery - and worth the effort.
So now that we've given the dough 4 good turns, it can either be refrigerated overnight so it's ready to make fresh pastry for breakfast in the morning, or you can now roll it out and proceed if you can't wait. Roll the dough out one last time to cover the pastry board.
For Cinnamon Rolls: brush the dough with melted butter, then sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar (you could also add whole or crushed pecans if you like). Roll up jelly-roll style, and cut into slices about 3/4-1 inch thick. Place rolls in a baking pan so the edges are just barely touching, cover with a clean dish cloth and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 40 minutes - until they are nice and puffy and about doubled in size. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes - until they are nicely browned on the top. If you like make an icing of powdered sugar, a little milk and vanilla, and drizzle over the tops while the rolls are still warm.
You can also make this dough into any number of shapes - simple triangular or round pockets, pinwheels, spirals, bear claws, braids, coffee rings, etc. They can be filled with butter/cinnamon/sugar, butter/jam or preserves, fresh fruits, nuts, cream cheese/sugar/vanilla, etc. Whatever your imagination inspires.
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