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|
Unbleached Bread Flour: $1.58
Kosher Salt: $0.02
Granulated White Sugar: $0.08
Instant Yeast: $1.52
Cold Whole Milk: $0.70
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|
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|
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|
|Détrempe without butter block|
|The butter block on top of the détrempe|
|The other half of the dough pulled over to make a sandwich, of sorts|
|The first fold|
|The laminated dough, all rolled out|
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|
|Shaped, proofed, and filled danish, pre-bake|
White Granulated Sugar: $0.12
Apricot Preserves: $0.34
Glaze Ingredients Total: $1.66
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/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.)