This is your chance to learn how to make genuine Danish pastry at home from one of the greatest chefs in the world. You can fold and twist this pastry into any shape you like. This recipe comes from The Nordic Baking Book by Magnus Nilsson whose 12-seater restaurant Fäviken in Sweden has been listed in the top restaurants in the world for the last 6 years. You may recognise Nilsson from the Emmy-Award winning US PBS series ‘The Mind of a Chef’ and the Netflix docuseries ‘Chef’s Table’. His book, published by Phaidon, explores the rich baking tradition of the Nordic region, with 450 recipes that are easy-to-follow and bake at home.
‘The Danish Pastry, or ‘Danish’, is actually only called this in the English-speaking world. In the Nordic countries it is know as Viennese bread and in most Germanic countries it is often called some-thing that relates to the city of Copenhagen’, says Magnus Nilsson. ‘The dough used for making Danish pastries is based on the Viennoise dough, which is a leavened type of puff pastry containing eggs. There are conflicting stories of exactly how and when the Danish was invented, but they all agree on one thing: the origins of this pastry, now intimately connected to Denmark, and especially to Copenhagen, are in Austria. It was brought to the Nordic region 130– 150 years ago and since then it has been adapted to suit the Nordic taste, becoming a bit sweeter and a bit richer than the original.
‘When you make Danish pastries it is an advantage to do it in a cool environment and with cool equipment: a chilled stone or marble work counter in a refrigerated space would be ideal, but opening your kitchen window on a chilly autumn (fall) morning shortly before you start also works. It is also a good idea to refrigerate equipment like rolling pins and knives, before starting. If you work really quickly, none of these precautions are necessary. But if not, they will buy you some extra time before the butter melts as you work it, turning your ambitious baking project into something that needs to be disposed in your compost bin, rather than baked in your oven.’
Preparation and resting time: 2 hours
Makes: enough for 20 pastries
500ml cold milk
1 teaspoon salt
1.2kg strong wheat flour, plus extra for dusting
1kg butter, cut into 1cm thick slices
1. Combine the milk, yeast, sugar, eggs, salt and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix at medium speed until the dough is smooth and shiny. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator to rest for an hour.
2. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work counter to a 60 x 45 cm rectangle. Place the cold sliced butter onto the half of the rectangle closest to you, leaving a 3cm edge of dough around the buttered part. Fold the butter-less half of dough towards you over the butter and crimp the edges using the spare 3cm.
3. The 45cm seam should now point towards you, if not then correct that. Roll the dough out evenly to a thickness of 2cm. Roll in one direction only and maintain the width of the rectangle at 45cm.
4. Now imagine the rectangle being made up of 3 smaller rectangles beginning closest to you, and fold the closest imaginary rectangle away from you so that it covers the second one. Subsequently fold the third imaginary rectangle towards you so that it covers both the previous ones and makes 3 layers of dough. Again, turn the dough so that its short side faces you.
5. Once again, roll the dough out evenly to a thickness of 2cm. This time you can roll in both directions, but try not to exceed the dimensions of the first rectangle (60 x 45cm).
6. Repeat the folding in thirds, turning and rolling process twice more. If the butter seems to be melting at any stage, then place the dough in the refrigerator to chill again before you resume rolling.
7. Once you’ve rolled the pastry out to a rectangle for the third time, cover it with a clean dish towel and refrigerate for 30 minutes to rest before proceeding with shaping your pastries.
Read more about Magnus Nilsson on Wikipedia
You’ll find Magnus Nilsson’s restaurant website Fäviken here
Follow Magnus Nilsson on Twitter here.
Magnus Nilsson on what he eats for breakfast and why he feels the pressure to innovate – interview with the UK Independent.
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