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What are types of Danish pastry?

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Danish pastry
This is an example of a mouth-watering Danish pastry just waiting to be eaten
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What is Danish Pastry? A buttery, flaky, crispy treat that will make your day

Danish pastry is that tempting, appetizing, fluffy stuff that you are supposed to avoid if you are trying to lose weight. However, one bite (or two or three) of something heaven sent never hurt anyone.

What is Danish pastry? A Danish pastry is sweet pastry made with raised dough that is associated with Denmark and other Scandinavian countries. Although linked to Denmark, the Danish is actually a product of Austria.

The types of Danish pastry - kringle, rolls, snails and figure-eights - are numerous and all of them are equally appetizing.

The essence of good Danish pastry, which is actually called simply "Danish" and not Danish pastry, is the layer upon layer of buttery, layered crust that is filled with cream cheese, blueberries, apples or almost anything that can be put in between pastry layers.

When Danish is created it is generally made by using a firm consistency block of butter that is folded, rolled, shaped and baked, which is basically the puff pastry method, and the outcome is a buttery, golden, flaky and deliciously crisp pastry that has risen due to the steam, which occurs while baking, and the yeast that is also used. The steam makes the thin layers puff up. Layers of butter separate the dough and result in flakiness, which is the hallmark of good Danishes.

Puff pastry or Pate Feuilletee is a baking concept that originated in France and means leafed pastry because there are many layers or leaves. Danish pastry, however, is made from yeast dough, whereas puff pastry does not contain yeast and depends on the steam to make it rise and therein lies the difference in puff pasty and Danishes.

Ingredients in Danish include yeast, flour, eggs, milk and lots of butter. Yeast dough is rolled out until it is very thin and then is coated in butter and folded into layers. Sometimes the dough is chilled beforehand because that makes it easier to handle. Rolling, folding, buttering, and chilling are repeated many times, which is what makes the dough buttery, fluffy and flaky. However, there are different techniques that can be used to make Danish, much of which depends on what country you are in. The shape of, and filling in, the Danish will also vary depending on where you are getting your Danish.

In Denmark, a Danish is topped with icing, sugar or chocolate and stuffed with either custard, jam or marzipan and is designed to have a circle in the center, called Sandauers, or is in a spiral (snail) shape, figure eight or designed like a pretzel called a kringle.

Kringle is the word for a pretzel shape in Denmark. The pretzel-shape is the sign for bakeries in Denmark. Kringles are buttery Danishes that were introduced for the first time in America in Wisconsin in the last 1800s by Danish immigrant bakers.

In Denmark, kringles are also referred to as Viennese bread (Wienerbroth) and are almond-filled, pretzel-shaped coffee cakes. Austrian bakers who  moved to Germany introduced the method of rolling butter in between the layers of yeast after which the dough was allowed to rest for hours before baked.

Austrian bakers came to the forefront in Denmark when there was a strike in Copenhagen. The Austrian bakers took over baking while the Danes were on strike. When the Danish bakers later returned to their jobs, they continued to make Danish pastries the way the Austrian bakers had made them in their absence. 

In the United States, Danish pastry generally has a sweet bakers cheese topping or fruit topping that is added before baking. Nut filled pastries are also big in demand in the United States.
In England, jam, apricots, pecans, caramelized toffee, flaked almonds and raisins are put into Danish pastries before they are baked.

Danish comes in various shapes including pinwheels, envelopes, cheese pockets and turnovers.
An interesting bit of trivia is the fact that margarine was invented by a Frenchman because of the butter shortage created by the high volume of Danishes that were being produced and which required lots of butter.

Danish pastry became popular in America after L.C. Klitteng of Denmark reported that he served Danish pastry at the wedding of President Woodrow Wilson in 1915.

Resources: kringle puff pastry danish pastry



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