The taste highlight of this pastry dessert is in the quality of the ‘pastry cream’ used. Pastry cream aka confectioner’s cream aka crème pâtissière in French, is a key ingredient in many French desserts including mille-feuille/Napoleon, pâte à choux and many other tarts. It is also used in Italian, Danish and other pastries, and sometimes in Boston cream pie. Although egg thickens the custard, the effect is minimal, with the majority of thickening resulting from starch. Corn flour or flour thickens at 100°C and consequently, many recipes instruct that the pastry cream be boiled. In a traditional custard such as a crème anglaise, where egg is used alone as a thickener, boiling results in the over-cooking and subsequent ‘curdling’ of the custard, whereas, in a pastry cream, starch prevents this. Once cooled, the amount of starch in pastry cream ‘sets’ the cream and requires it to be beaten or whipped before use.
Braided Danish with Pastry Cream & Fruit Fillings
Recipe by: Fae’s Twist & Tango (fae-magazine.com)
Pastry Cream • Confectioner’s Cream • Crème Pâtissière
• 120 ml / ½ cup milk (whole milk preferred)
• 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
• 2 egg-yolks at room temperature
• 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
• 2 tsp corn starch
◊ Have all your ingredients measured and ready.
◊ In a small sauce-pan, on medium-heat, bring milk to near-boil (avoid coagulation), add vanilla and turn off heat.
◊ In a medium-sized, deep, heatproof bowl, with silicone spatula, mix egg-yolks and sugar until incorporated. Add corn starch and continue to stir to combine.
◊ While vigorously stirring the egg-mixture, slowly drizzle all of the hot milk into the egg mixture.
◊ Return the mixture to the saucepan. Over medium-low heat, quickly and vigorously stir until it thickens. When the spatula scrapes across the bottom of the pan, it leaves a clear line (~ 3 minutes). Stir constantly, scraping the bottom of the pan or the eggs will curdle. Immediately remove from the heat. Pour cream into a small, heatproof dish. To prevent a skin from forming on the surface, press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream. Refrigerate until chilled (2+ hours).
◊ This cream volume is good for 2 sheets of puff pastry. (If making only one pastry, extra pastry cream can be stored in freezer. To use frozen cream, defrost in refrigerator for a few hours. Don’t be concerned about the consistency change of the cream. Once baked, it is just as good as freshly made.)
Any fruit filling of preference may be used.
Use canned peaches, pears, apples… but make sure you drain them very well. After draining, it may help to put them in the microwave for over a minute for some of the juice to seep out. It helps for crispier baking of the puff pastry. You may also use the fruits from preserves (avoid the liquid).
To braid the puff-pastry
• 450 g / 1 lb box with 2 frozen puff-pastries – Trader Joe’s brand or any, preferably made with real butter
• 2 (450 g/ 16 oz each) cans of fruits (1 can per sheet)
• 2 Tbsp raisins (optional)
For egg wash
• 1 egg, beaten well, with 2 tsp water -or- 1 egg-yolk beaten well with 1 tsp milk (remove chalazae & vitelline membrane from the egg yolk)
◊ If puff-pastries come frozen in rolls, defrost in refrigerator overnight, or per box’s instructions. Make sure it is ready to be unrolled. After defrosting, flatten the rolled puff-pastry. If any tears need repairing, push your fingers across tears and return to freezer in a flat form (on a tray, well-wrapped) for it to completely harden again. Use store-bought, frozen puff-pastry sheet as is and do not stretch it with rolling-pin.
◊ Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (not wax paper).
◊ Also, line a cutting board (which fits in the freezer) with parchment paper, if the frozen pastry does not come with one already.
◊ Have all fillings ready before preheating oven. Place rack on middle oven shelf and preheat to 200°C/400°F.
◊ Store bought puff pastry tends to become difficult to work with as it warms up. It is important to keep it chilled and work quickly with it. Remove ‘flat’ puff-pastry from freezer one at a time if using both sheets. From this point, work quickly, to keep puff-pastry from getting warm/soft (not only is it difficult to cut or braid, but also, it will not produce desired baked finish).
◊ Place flat frozen puff-pastry on parchment paper on cutting board. In less than 10 minutes, it is ready for cuts.
◊ Make cuts (see video below or see → here ), top with pastry cream, then with fruit filling over the pastry cream, (sprinkle raisins) and braid. This process should not take more than 2~3 minutes.
◊ Lift pastry and place on lined baking sheet.
When making 2 Danishes
◊ Put previously braided Danish in freezer. Then take out 2nd frozen pastry sheet to assemble.
◊ When one or both pastries are ready, brush it/them with egg-wash all over (for it to brown with shine).
◊ Put egg-washed pastry(s) on baking sheet into preheated oven as soon as possible.
◊ Bake for 28 ~ 32 minutes or until golden-brown on top (see photo).
◊ Take baking sheet out of oven. Slide Danish onto cooling rack for it/them to cool completely before serving. Serve at room temperature.
~ Velbekomme! ~
How to braid puff pastry
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