Sunday, March 4, 2012

Update March 2012


As I said before, fatherhood keeps you busy.

My baby boy is ten months old now, and eats solid foods in addition to milk.  I wanted his first taste of bread to be a bread that I baked.  Here's a picture of how this whole wheat loaf was received.

Henry seems to like it!

More updates later.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blog Update

Sorry, haven't had a lot of time for frequent breadmaking.  Here is the reason:

My baby boy was born in April.  Fatherhood keeps you busy!

I hope to return to more regular breadmaking and blogging in future weeks and months.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


On a whim last week, in the belated honor of Fat Thursday, I made paczki: Polish pastries like sufganiyot, or, if you will, jelly doughnuts. Paczki is pronounced "pohnch-key," and the recipe I used is available here.  My younger brother lives in Poland, and he informed me that the doughnuts I'd made and photographed looked exactly like the ones available in the local bakeries.  Unfortunately, I didn't document the experience at the time.  So in the interest of educating this blog's three or four readers, I made more doughnuts.  This wasn't for my benefit.  It's all for you.  I mean, I don't even like doughnuts.  Uh-huh.  Well, um.  Let's get started.

Mise en place
Recipe: The Dough
22-23 oz. AP Flour: $1.74
12-13 oz. Warm Milk: $1.30
4 1/12 tsp. Rapid Rise Yeast: $0.96
3 3/4 oz. White Granulated Sugar: $0.24
4 oz. Room Temperature Butter: $2.08
1 Egg and 3 Egg Yolks: $0.55
1 tbsp. Brandy or Rum (Optional)
1 tsp. Salt: $0.01
Dough Ingredients Total: $6.88

Whisk the yeast into the warm milk and let it bubble up while you cream the sugar and butter together.  Then add the alcohol (I used coconut rum), salt and the eggs, one at a time, until well mixed.  It will look something like this:

Butter, sugar, eggs, rum, and salt
After that, add in the yeast mixture and the flour in increments until it becomes more of a dough than a batter.  You'll probably have to adjust the flour or liquid to get it to that stage.  I use a stand mixer, so once 3/4 of the flour or so was mixed in, I switched to the dough hook for the remainder of the mixing and kneading.  Once it's a dough, let the mixer go on slow-medium for about five minutes.  the dough will be very soft and a bit sticky:

Slack, soft dough

Put it into a greased container, cover it, and let it rise until doubled.  Then take it out, do three folds to press out the gas, and return it to the covered container for another doubling rise.  Depending on the warmth of your kitchen, these two rises may take as long as three hours.  After that, put it onto your lightly floured work surface and roll it out until it's between 1/4" and 1/2" thick.

All rolled out

Now it's time to start cutting out the doughnut shapes.  I purchased a three dollar doughnut cutter for the doughnuts with holes.  For the filled doughnuts, I took a can of tuna, emptied the tuna out (onto some green salads for extra protein), removed the label, washed it thoroughly, put a small pair of slits in the top so that the air could escape, and voila: a jelly doughnut cutter.  Put the shaped doughnuts onto a cookie sheet, cover them with plastic wrap, and let them proof for a half hour or so while you heat the oil to 350 degrees.  You will have scraps.  Just ball up the remaining dough and let it rest for ten minutes before re-rolling it out and cutting more doughnuts.  Yes, you can make doughnut holes as well: for them, take half-dollar sized balls of dough, flatten them out very thin, and let them proof for around 30 minutes.

Doughnuts, pre-proof
I used vegetable oil for frying, and when I was done making the doughnuts and strained the used oil back into the container, I found that I'd used about 14 oz. of a 64 oz. container of oil.  That comes to approximately $2.25.  Depending on the size of the pot you're frying the doughnuts in, you may need more oil so that the doughnuts will flip without difficulty.  For my purposes, 64 oz (half a gallon) was enough.  The real challenge is heating the oil to a proper temperature and keeping it there.  A thermometer is absolutely necessary for this.  Err on the low side when starting to heat the oil rather than going at full blast, as oil cools very slowly.  It's not as if you can hurry the cooling process along by putting an ice cube in it, unless you want to start a grease fire.  Once you've got it to 350 degrees, give or take, mark down where the position of the stove dial is if you plan to make more doughnuts at a later date.   The alternative is using a Fry Baby or similar purpose-designed oil-heating apparatus.  If you've got one: great!  And try not to eat too many fried foods.

Once the oil's ready and the doughnuts have swelled up a bit, set up a station for the jelly doughnuts: a plate with paper towels on it to drain the freshly fried doughnuts, a dish of some sort with two cups of sugar ($0.96) to roll the drained but still hot doughnuts in, and a cookie sheet for the sugared doughnuts.  For the doughnuts you don't plan to roll in sugar, set up some racks for them to cool.

When frying, put in four or five doughnuts at a time, bottom side up (so you'll be putting the flat side face up).  You may notice that your fingers have left indentations in the dough, which is fine: they'll expand out very shortly during the cooking process.  Don't crowd the pan, because you'll make it more difficult to flip them over (ease is a necessity when dealing with hot oil), and you'll also drop the temperature of the oil significantly.  It should take about two minutes per side to cook them, and they'll swell a great deal as they fry.  Don't be tied to a particular time, though: focus on color.  You want a golden brown: check every once in a while by partially flipping one over.

Frying doughnuts: side one

Side two: note that they're a little darker than they need to be

Once they're done, scoop them out of the oil with a spider or, if you don't have one, a slotted spoon, and put them on the paper towel-covered plate to dry for a bit.  Re-check the temperature of the oil to see if you need to make any adjustments, and put in the next batch.  While the new batch cooks, either roll them in sugar and put them on the cookie sheet or place them on the rack to cool.  Repeat as necessary until you get to the doughnut holes.

Jelly doughnuts frying

Note how much bigger the cooked doughnut is

When frying doughnut holes, there's a certain strategy required.  The first time I tried to do it, one side expanded a great deal, making them impossible to flip.  It's like trying to keep twelve Weebles down all at the same time.  In hot oil.  The trick is to fry them in small batches of 6 or 7, cook them for a few seconds on one side, and then roll them over.  This allows them to swell more or less equally so that one side isn't heavier than the other.  From there, cook until done, rolling them over one more time.  The doughnut holes got rolled in the same sugar as the jelly doughnuts.

I filled the jelly doughnuts with a seedless strawberry jam by putting the jam into a plastic bag fitted with a metal tip, piercing the side of the doughnut with the tip, and squeezing some jam inside.  Don't use a jam that has any solid fruit bits in it, or they'll get stuck inside the tip and clog up the poor man's pastry bag.  Don't worry about taking off too much sugar when filling them: if you rolled them in sugar while hot, plenty of sugar will have adhered to the surface.  I used about 3/4 of a 10 oz. jar to fill nine doughnuts, so that came out to $2.51

The doughnuts with holes got the glazed treatment, and I used Alton Brown's glaze recipe for that, which should run you approximately $2.00 for the confectioner's sugar, milk, and vanilla.  The trick is to keep the glaze warm in the pot so that it doesn't harden on you as you're dipping the doughnuts.  By the time you get to the end, you will probably be swabbing the last doughnut around the edge of the pan for the remainder, but at least none of it will go to waste.  Put the freshly glazed doughnuts onto a rack placed on a cookie sheet to dry.  And...that's that!  You've got doughnuts.  For a few of them, I put some shredded coconut on the glaze before it dried.  The great thing about this recipe is that you can do almost any sort of yeast doughnut you want with it: chocolate frosted, chopped peanuts, powdered jelly, bacon: whatever strikes your fancy.

Freshly glazed doughnuts

Doughnut holes

Doughnut cross-section

All of these doughnuts were made from one batch

The doughnuts themselves are very light and fluffy on the inside.  They tear when you bite into them instead of breaking the way cake doughnuts will.  Making them is a bit of a production, I'll admit: from the rising to the cutting to the frying and filling, it's a process that takes three to four hours.  But if you like doughnuts as an occasional treat and want to know what a real doughnut tastes like, you owe it to yourself to try making them at least once.

Total Cost: $14.60
Cost Per Serving (1 Doughnut/Serving): $0.66

Closest Packaged Analog: Entenmann's Donuts - Softee Assorted With Frosted
Cost: $6.39
Cost Per Serving: $0.94
Ingredients: Ingredients Common to All Donuts: Plain: Enriched Wheat Flour [Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Reduced Iron, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Folic Acid], Water Palm Oil, Sugar, Soybean and/or Canola Oil, Nonfat Milk, Egg Yolk Powder, Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate), Soy Flour, Glycerin, Corn Syrup Solids, Pregelatinized Wheat Starch, Salt, Dextrose, Soy Lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Cellulose Gum, Wheat Germ, Beta Carotene (Color), Nutmeg Oil. if Topped, Also Includes: Powdered Sugar: Modified Cornstarch, Artificial Color, Calcium Propionate (Preservative). Frosted: Palm Kernel Oil, Coca (Processed with Alkali), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Caramel Color.

While the doughnuts you make at home may be high in fat and sugar, they will probably be lacking things like Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate and Calcium Propionate.  They will also be less expensive.  And taste better.

(This post has been submitted to Yeastspotting.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza

Pizza is a favorite meal at our house.  It's an excellent vehicle for leftovers (except for pizza leftovers, which would be weird), and a Friday or Saturday night pizza pie is something to look forward to after a long work week.  For years, I'd been making pizza using the calzone recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook, and while it was good, it didn't have that East Coast-style crust that we miss living in Colorado.  Then, my wife got me Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day, which was a game-changer.  Now, delicious pizzas with that char on the crust are within reach.  We did it.  But it's not enough to sit on your laurels: reach higher.  Do more.  The new challenge was to make Chicago-style deep dish pizza.  I went with the King Arthur Flour recipe, with great but not perfect success.

Mise en place
Recipe: The Dough
17 oz. Unbleached AP Flour: $1.29
1.25 oz. Yellow Cornmeal: $0.13
1 3/4 tsp. Salt: $0.02
2 3/4 tsp. Instant Yeast: $1.42
7/8 oz. Olive Oil: $0.29
2 oz. Unsalted Butter: $1.04
7/8 oz. Vegetable Oil: $0.10
9 oz. Lukewarm Water
Dough Ingredients Total: $4.29

Making the dough itself couldn't be easier: just mix everything up and knead it for several minutes until it becomes a smooth dough.  It'll feel a little bit gritty because of the cornmeal.  Then, let it rise for an hour, and it'll look like this:

The risen dough

While it rises, prepare a couple 9" cake pans by hitting them with spray oil and drizzling a little bit of olive oil into them.  Roll the oil around so that it goes up along the sides, so it looks like this:

A prepared pan

A note about sauce: most of the Chicago-style pizza recipes I've seen call for a relatively unseasoned sauce: crushed tomatoes with a little Italian seasoning mixed into it.  As I love to make red sauce almost as much as I like to eat it, I deviated from the recipe and made my own pizza sauce. 

Recipe: The Sauce
1 28 oz. Can of Crushed Tomatoes: $1.89
1 tsp. Dried Basil: $0.02
1 tsp. Dried Oregano: $0.02
1 tsp. Dried Parsley: $0.02
1 tsp. Garlic Powder: $0.01
1 tsp. Onion Powder: $0.01
1/2 cup Shiraz (Any Red Wine): $1.50
Veggie Protein Crumbles: $4.95
Salt and Pepper to taste
Sauce Ingredients Total: $8.42

Mix everything into a saucepan and let it simmer on low for an hour.  It should be good to go then.  If you want it to taste even better, make the sauce the day before and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight so that the flavors really meld together. I decided to put in the veggie crumbles to make it almost like a bolognese sauce to add some fiber and protein.

Once the dough has risen, divide it in half, flatten it out some, put it into the pans, and begin shaping.  You want it to go up the sides so that you can put all the toppings inside the crust.  Like a pie.  Some of the olive oil will ooze up a bit over the sides, but it's okay.  When the dough starts to fight you a bit, cover it and let it rest for fifteen minutes.  After a couple of shapings, it should fill the pan the way you want it to.

After the first shaping

After the second shaping

The crust gets crunchy despite the heavy toppings inside it because of the pre-bake.  So you put the pan into the oven and bake it at 425 for ten minutes.  Mine rose more than I would have liked during its initial stint in the oven, so I pressed it back down a bit.  This is what it looked like after the pre-bake:

The slightly baked crust

According to the recipe, you put .375 lbs of sliced mozzarella cheese into each pan, then .5 lbs of sausage.  I put a half cup of half-skim shredded mozzarella ($0.86) and some chopped leftover turkey burgers inside ($2.55, approximately). 

First the cheese...

Then the meat...

Then the sauce...

Finally, a little grated Parmesan on top

I grated a little bit of Parmesan on top that we got from Zingerman's, and the pizzas went back into the oven for 25 minutes.  It's difficult to slip them out of the pans while they're not, but not as tough as it is to wait fifteen minutes for them to set up before eating. 

The waiting is the hardest part

Time for dinner!

They turned out really, really well.  The crust was crunchy and flaky from the butter and two kinds of oil, with a nice, toothsome bite from the cornmeal. It's a filling sort of pie, especially with the veggie crumbles.  My only problems were that the crust rose unexpectedly during the pre-bake, and that I didn't press it into the corners of the cake pan as much as I should have.  Despite that, I'm not at all disappointed with the final product.  It's a Chicago pizza.

Total Cost: $16.12
Cost Per Serving: $4.03

Compare that to a Chicago-style deep dish pizza: you can spend around $15.00 per same-sized pie at a restaurant or delivery place, and you don't have to tip the waiter at home.  You know what's in it, you know who handled it, and you can put in anything you want. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

ABED Recipe: Chocolate Cinnamon Babka

This recipe, a cross between cake and bread, was taken from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Bread Every Day.  Overall, it's not difficult to make (unlike laminated dough), and turned out well.  Because I made it in a Bundt pan, I was unable to give it a streusel topping.  Even so, I don't think the end product suffers from the lack.

Mise en place
Recipe: The Dough
Unbleached Bread Flour: $1.13
Yeast: $2.50
Lukewarm Milk: $0.60
Warm or Melted Butter: $1.56
Granulated White Sugar: $1.92
Vanilla: $0.80
Egg Yolks: $0.14
Salt: $0.01
Dough Ingredients Total: $9.65

The dough, pre-ferment
Making the dough is similar to making quick breads or muffins: mix the yeast into the warm milk and set aside while you cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg yolks and vanilla until fluffy.  From there, just mix in the flour, salt, and milk-yeast mixture until you get a fairly solid mass of dough.  Knead the dough by hand a little, and let it rise for a couple of hours.  It won't get very big, but it'll swell up a bit.  While it rises, make the filling.

Recipe: The Filling
Frozen Chocolate Chips: $2.88
Cinnamon: $0.04
Cold Butter: $1.04
Filling Ingredients Total: $3.96

Just put the frozen chocolate chips into a food processor and chop them up until they're little bits, but not quite dust.  Please be aware that doing this is extremely loud.  Hearing protection isn't a bad idea, to be honest: if a sound is loud enough to hurt your ears, it's doing damage to them.  Add the cinnamon, mix a little, and then add the cold butter in pieces.  You should end up with something that looks like this:

The filling in the processor

At the end of the ferment, roll the dough out into a 15" square and sprinkle the filling on top except for the very edges.

Looks a little like cooked ground beef, doesn't it?

Then roll it up and give it a gentle twist on both ends to create the spiral.  There are plenty of options for shaping here: Bundt pan, loaf pan, or get fancy and do a Kranz cake.  I went with the Bundt option, as this seemed like a cake-y sort of thing to me.  Press the rolled-up, twisted dough into the Bundt pan and press it into the bottom.  It's tricky, but try to level it so it's fairly even.  This is what I managed:

Babka in pan, pre-proof

Note the two lines: the long curve is the seam from the initial roll and twist.  The line in the upper right area is the seam from both ends pressed together.  In retrospect, I might have moistened the ends before pressing them together to create a tighter seal.  Now, let it proof for two and a half hours, and this is what it'll look like:

Proofed, unbaked babka

It gets pretty poofy and tall.  Wait for it to just clear the top of the pan before baking.  After a trip in the oven (about 33 minutes is what mine took), this is what came out when unmolded:

A great...big...BABKA

Note once again the lines from the seams.  The one on the left end is, obviously, from the initial roll and twist.  The wide one on the bottom right: that's from not having created a great seal of the ends.  This is the slice I took out first to have a look at the crumb.

The crumb is light and fluffy.  Despite that this looks like a cake, it doesn't at all taste like one, and has the lightness of a yeasted dough. 

A better look at the crumb

If you want to gild the lily, I suppose you could add a glaze or a fondant icing drizzle to the top, but it doesn't need it.

Total Cost: $13.61
Cost Per Serving: $0.85

Closest Packaged Analog: Entenmann's French Crumb Cake
Cost: $7.69
Cost Per Serving: $0.96
Ingredients: Bleached Wheat Flour, Sugar, Butter, Eggs, Nonfat Milk, Water, Soybean Oil, Filberts, Molasses, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate), Modified Cornstarch, Dextrose, Salt, Natural & Artificial Flavors, Spice, Sorbitan Monostearate, Preservatives (Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Propionate), Xanthan Gum, Polysorbate 60, Mono- And Diglycerides, Contains Nuts.

There's a certain cost difference there, and with the homemade babka, you don't have to eat Sorbitan Monostearate and Polysorbate 60 if you don't want to.

(This post submitted to Yeastspotting.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

ABED Recipe: Danish

When my beloved wife got me a copy of Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day, one of the recipes that really grabbed my attention was the one for laminated dough.  In the past, I'd eaten more than my fair share of danishes, croissants and the like, but once I had learned how the dough was made (dozens if not hundreds of layers of butter and dough), I assumed that the creation of such treats required heavy rolling machinery, or the dedication of professional bakers in a commercial kitchen.

This is, of course, false.  However, making laminated dough is far from an easy thing, as I read in the book.  But it was doable.  There are some significant challenges: regulating temperature properly, rolling the dough to certain measurements, shaping, and others.  And while I was ultimately successful in that I made a buttery, flaky pastry that's quite delicious, there were some errors I committed during the process that made themselves known in the final product.

Mise en place
Recipe: The Détrempe
Unbleached Bread Flour: $1.58
Kosher Salt: $0.02
Granulated White Sugar: $0.08
Instant Yeast: $1.52
Cold Whole Milk: $0.70
Cold Water
Melted Unsalted Butter: $0.52
Détrempe Ingredients Total: $4.42

The détrempe is the dough part of the laminated dough; it's the bread part of the bread-and-butter sandwich that is laminated dough.  Making it is easy enough, though you want to make sure that everything stays fairly chilled.  So you don't dissolve the yeast in any of the liquids, but instead first mix it with the flour, salt, and sugar, then you add the cold water and milk and melted butter.  What you should have at the end is something like this:

A coarse, sticky dough
And, as usual for ABED, you put the dough in the refrigerator overnight to let it ferment.  I'll admit that even selecting this recipe to try was a bit of a gut check, so I was looking forward to the next day when it all came together.

The other part of laminated dough is a butter block: a slab of butter that goes in between the layers of the détrempe.  

Nascent butter block
 Recipe: The Butter Block 
Cold Unsalted Butter: $6.24
Unbleached Flour: $0.04
Butter Block Ingredients Total: $6.28

The intent here is to break up the butter and incorporate the flour into it without melting the butter.  Essentially, you want a cool paste.  If it gets too warm, put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to cool off.  My problem when making this was that I was too concerned about overheating it, so while I mixed it up fairly decently, there were still some largish bits of butter in the mass that proved difficult to deal with later on.  Better next time to run the risk of getting it warm by mixing it more and making sure the butter is of that paste consistency; you can always refrigerate it later.

The butter block
After that, you have to shape the butter block into a 6" square.  Describing it is easier than doing it: put it on a piece of parchment paper or silicone mat, cover it with plastic wrap, and tap, roll, press, or otherwise form it into the square, using whatever tools you have available: spatula, pastry scraper, ruler, etc.  My initial efforts made a larger rectangle than square, so I used a ruler to measure off the proper dimensions, cut around them, and added the extra on top.  After some pressing with the spatula and a rolling pin, I got a butter block of about 6 1/2".  It wasn't worth it to me to do more cutting; I figured I could always roll out the dough part a little flatter to cover it.  The butter block then went into the refrigerator to cool back off.  You don't want it too warm or soft when incorporating it into the dough, or it might melt a bit.  The important thing to remember is that it is doable, despite the difficulty.  Pulling the plastic wrap taut as you square off the edges with a straight edge helps a great deal.

Détrempe without butter block
After that, take the détrempe out of the refrigerator, dust the working surface with flour, and roll out the dough to about 12 1/2" x 6 1/2".  I had to do mine a bit bigger because the butter block was larger.  This was a little easier than expected, and didn't shrink back a great deal as I was rolling it out.  Hence, I was able to roll it all out in one session without having to give the dough a rest.  You want to have the corners and edges as squared-off as possible.  If necessary, push the sides in a little with a straight edge of some kind.  I ended up having to fold one end under a bit during the initial roll-out so I had more room for the long side.  Once that's done, you put the butter block onto one half of the dough and fold the other half on top of it, pinching the edges together to make a seal.  Don't worry too much about getting a perfect seal: all the flour you've put on and under it during the rolling may make that difficult.  I used a Silpat, so the butter block peeled off the surface and onto the dough pretty easily.

The butter block on top of the détrempe

The other half of the dough pulled over to make a sandwich, of sorts
After that, it's time to make the layers.  Roll out the sandwich into a 16" x 9" rectangle and fold it as if folding a letter.  You should have something that resembles this at least a little:

The first fold
Then, let it rest for twenty minutes so you can do more rolling: roll it out to another 16" x 9" rectangle and fold it letter-style again.  Another rest, and another roll-and-fold.  This is where I ran into the most amount of difficulty.  Because the butter block didn't have the paste consistency, there were some larger chunks of cold butter in the mass that poked out the surface of the dough in unlovely clots.  Far from the end of the world, but what it meant was that some of the layers were already broken by the rolling and folding.  Also, the dough often required long rests in the middle of rolling so that it wouldn't fight and shrink back so much.  This aspect of the process was extremely time-consuming: roll for a while, let it rest.  Roll, rest.  Repeat.  Eventually, after the final fold and a rest in the refrigerator, I was able to complete the final rolling: a 24" x 9" rectangle (or thereabouts).

The laminated dough, all rolled out

It may be difficult to see in the photo, but note the slight tear in the surface in the upper-middle left area.  Also note the air bubbles on the edge.  Despite the layering, this is still a yeast dough, and some action is going on in there.

After that, I used a pizza cutter to slice the dough into about twenty-two strips: each one would become a danish in one shape or other.  Rather than get too fancy with shapes at this outing, I just went with three: round, S-shaped double snail, and eyeglass-shaped double snail.  If I do this again, I'll probably make some pinwheels, but these are fine for now.  You twist the strips and then shape with the twisted strips.  One mistake I made was that I didn't tuck the ends under on the round danish, so they've all got little handles on them.

Shaped danish, pre-proof

From there, I proofed them for about two hours, preheated the oven, made an indentation in the center of the round parts, and put a teaspoon or so of cherry ($1.47) or blueberry ($1.33) pie filling into each danish.  As the oven preheated, I made the glaze and fondant.

Shaped, proofed, and filled danish, pre-bake
Recipe: Glaze
White Granulated Sugar: $0.12
Apricot Preserves: $0.34
Lemon: $1.20
Glaze Ingredients Total: $1.66

Recipe: Fondant
Confectioner's Sugar: $1.20
Corn Syrup: $0.35
Fondant Ingredients Total: $1.55

When I opened the oven to turn the baking tray around, I saw that some of the butter leaked out of the dough, almost bathing the pastries in bubbling butter.  They hadn't browned significantly, so I hoped that they would in the next six minutes or so.  My fears proved unfounded, and I was presented with golden brown danish when I next opened the oven to check, so I took them out and painted on the simmering glaze while it and the danish were still hot.  After a few minutes, I drizzled the fondant on top, and there they were: danish.  But the proof of the pudding (or pastry, in this case), is in the eating.  Were they worth the effort?

A plate of danish

Yes.  They were flaky and delicious, despite (or because of) their imperfection.  And they came out of my kitchen!  The caveat is that making them is an extremely time-consuming process, from the butter block to the rolling to the shaping.  This time, I went with canned pie filling because I didn't have berries at home to make it myself.  If our waistlines and my time allow, future danish will be made with only natural ingredients.  Whatever I do in future baking, I'll always know I can make laminated dough and do some really tasty things with it. 

Total Cost: $16.71
Cost Per Serving (1 danish/serving): $0.76

Closest Packaged Analog: Entenmann's Danish - Cinnamon
Cost: $1.95
Cost/Serving (One package): $1.95
Ingredients: Enriched Flour Bleached (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar, Water, Margarine (Palm Oil, Water, Salt, Monoglycerides, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Beta Carotene Color, Vitamin A Palmitate), Egg Whites

The homemade version is 39% of the price of the prepackaged variety, and came out of a kitchen that has a 0% allowable percentage of foreign material in the process. 

(This post was submitted to Yeastspotting.)