Airy and crispy on the outside, rich and buttery inside, combined with tasty fruit to balance the flavor – that is a good Danish pastry. This multi-layered, sweet, laminated pastry was actually introduced by Austrian bakers when they were hired in Denmark in 1850 during a strike with Denmark bakery workers. When the dispute ended, Denmark bakers decided to adapt the recipe and added a few more eggs and fats to the recipe to turn it into something more palatable for the Danes.
Danish pastry in the US
Danish immigrants first introduced the Danish pastry to the United States around 1915. It is made with a dough of wheat flour leavened with yeast, milk, sugar, eggs and tons of butter or margarine. The dough is then folded and rolled a couple of times to create about 27 layers. The dough is chilled between folding for easier handling. The entire process is repeated multiple times to create the multilayered dough. It is then topped with fruits like apples, pears, peaches or sweetened cream cheese before baking.
How to make a Pear Rosemary Danish
Prep Time: 1 hr
Bake Time: 45 mins
Makes: 13 by 9-inch pan
- 1 cup unsalted butter, chilled
- 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 & 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
Pear Rosemary filling
- 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 pounds Pittman & Davis Starkrimson pears
- 1 Granny Smith apple
- 2 to 3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3 to 4 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons whole milk or half-and-half
- Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes and place in the freezer. Chop enough rosemary for the crust and filling. Preheat your oven to 400º F with a rack in the lower middle position.
- Combine sugar, salt, and rosemary in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 30 to 60 seconds to further break up the rosemary, and infuse the sugar with the oil. Add the flour and process for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Scatter the butter cubes over the flour mixture, then pulse to combine, about 12 to 15 one-second pulses. The mixture should resemble wet sand, with some pea-sized pieces of butter. Transfer mixture to a medium sized bowl.
- In a small bowl whisk the egg and 2 tablespoons of water to combine. Sprinkle the egg mixture over the flour mixture and fold to combine. I generally start with a fork or spoon, and then use my hands once the dough has started to come together. You may need to add another tablespoon or so of water to get the dough to come together. It is fairly soft dough, but it should not be overly sticky.
- Divide the dough into 2 unequal portions, the larger being about 2/3 of the dough. Place the smaller portion in the refrigerator.
- Flour your counter top or a piece of parchment paper. Use a generous amount of flour to prevent the dough from sticking from the counter. Sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour as needed to prevent sticking to the rolling pin. Roll the larger portion of the dough out into a rectangle that is large enough to fit into the bottom, and up and slightly over the sides of a 13- by 9-inch baking pan. (About 17 to 18 inches by 13 to 14 inches.)
- Roll the dough onto your rolling pin, and then transfer the dough to your pan by unrolling it off. Press into the bottom and sides of the dough into the pan. If needed patch tears with some of the dough overhang or by pressing together with your fingers. (The dough is pretty malleable.)
- Set pan aside, and make your filling.
Pear Rosemary filling
- Quarter and core pears. Cut each quarter into 4 or 5 chunks. Place in medium sized bowl.
- Grate apple on the large holes of a box grater into the bowl containing the pears. Add the rosemary, lemon zest and juice, sugar. Toss until well combined.
- Transfer pear mixture to the prepared crust. Distribute evenly. Sprinkle with salt. Dot with butter, and set aside.
- Roll smaller piece of crust dough into a 13- by 9-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Transfer to the top of the pear mixture. Fold or roll the bottom crust over the top crust and flute the edges or use a fork to press the edges. (I roll the dough down if I want to flute it, or fold it for a more rustic fork-finished edge.) Dock the surface of the crust with a fork.
- Bake for approximately 45 minutes, turning the Danish 180º after 25 to 30 minutes. The edges of the crust should be nicely browned and the top of the crust should be golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.
- Whisk the glaze ingredients together, and drizzle over the Danish after it has been cooling for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool at least several hours or overnight before cutting and serving.