First of all, when I read through this recipe for the first time, before I'd gathered my ingredients or anything, I knew this recipe might be beyond my skill level. That's probably not being modest enough, honestly. Still, I like to give myself credit, and I figured I wouldn't tell my grandpa I was making these so that if they turned out horribly and I had to throw them away, he wouldn't be disappointed.
It's not a necessarily difficult recipe to follow - the instructions are clear, and it's fairly simple in regards to ingredients - but it is labor-intensive, and a bit of haste is required when dealing with the butter/flour mixture...but we'll get to that.
So I started out by adjusting the recipe to make 12 servings, rather than 36. My grandpa has multiple health issues and, though I'm sure he'd love to receive 36 Danishes, I know I'd feel bad if he had a heart attack or something because of it. However, the adjustment was only made to the ingredients. The recipe remained for the original serving size of 36. In most recipes this wouldn't be an issue but this recipe calls for certain amounts of ingredients at different times, so I had to do a little math (which has never been my strong suit).
So here's what I came to. In step 1, it says to cream together the butter and 2/3 cup of flour. For my 12 servings batch, however, I creamed together the butter and 3 tablespoons plus 1 3/4 teaspoons flour. Figuring that out was relatively easy.
In step 2, it says to mix the dry yeast and 3 cups of the remaining flour. After doing some math, I figured out that I needed to mix 1 cup of my remaining flour to the dry yeast. That left me with 1 2/3 cups of flour for the rest of the recipe.
After kneading my dough, it became firm and pliable with about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of flour still left over. Not wanting to make my dough too tough, I discarded it and left my dough to rise.
Upon pulling the cold butter sheets out of the fridge to fold into my dough, I found myself having to scrape the butter off of the wax paper rather than it coming off in the nice, simple sheet it was supposed to be. Still, this wasn't a big deal as I just spread the butter mixture around with a knife. To me there seemed to be a LOT of butter - when I pressed the edges to seal in the butter and rolled over it with my pin, butter oozed out the edges. I tried as well as I could to keep it contained but there was just so much, I had to let some of it go. The butter coated the cutting board I was using as a surface and got all over my rolling pin, a problem I somewhat remedied by placing a sheet of wax paper between the dough and my pin.
The butter seemed to be absorbed by the dough during its thirty-minutes stints in the refrigerator, at least some of it was. It was still pretty buttery when I got it out to place the filling. For filling I used Smucker's Cherry Preserves. It took me a minute to figure out how much to put without putting too much or too little. Then I folded over two corners to make it pretty. And for a final touch, I brushed them with egg whites for a nice shine.
How they looked before they went into the oven.
Beautiful, right? Wrong. The heat of the oven must have made the butter too slippery or something, because when I pulled them out of the oven (after 8 minutes), they looked like this.
How they looked when they came out. Blurghh.
I was about to damn the whole project but my mother, always an optimist, convinced me to press on. In the end I'm glad I did, but at the time I was rather depressed.
I added a bit more preserves to each one, hoping to save at least a few of the least-crappy looking ones for my grandpa's birthday. But then I remembered the icing.
This recipe, which I found simply by typing "danish pastry icing" into Google, made perfect icing. To apply it to the pastries, I cut the tip off a gallon baggy and drizzled it back and forth across each one. For such a simple recipe, this icing is tasty - and totally saved my Danishes!
See for yourself.
I was so happy. They still didn't turn out the way I expected them to look, but I'm not complaining - at least they turned out somewhat pretty.
Not too bad, after all.
As for the taste, we took one of the ugly ones and split it amongst ourselves. I thought the pastry was bland, especially for all the effort I'd put into it. It wasn't very flaky either, although that could very well be directly linked to my skill level. Oh, and something else - the recipe specifically said NOT to grease the pan, so I didn't - but the bottom of a few of the pastries stuck to the pan.
We'll see how my grandpa likes them. I'll update this once I have his expert opinion.