Monday, January 27, 2014

Danish Puff - Is it American, French or Scandinavian? Or Just Delicious?


I first made this Danish Puff the summer of 1980 after reading about it in the Free Press Report on Family. (No, the recipe was not chiseled onto a stone tablet.) I had read that its origins go back to a Betty Crocker Cookbook and apparently everyone's grandmother baked it every Christmas.

As young as I was, I knew nothing of fancy terms like pâte brisée and pâte à choux - French baking techniques. Nor does the recipe make reference to these terms. They keep it simple.

We don't have this perfect coffee time treat often as it is deceivingly rich.  Today I used Stirling Creamery's 84% Butter in both components of the puff.

There is no sugar in the pastry.  It's only sweetness comes from the icing.  

In true Danish style, the almond rules.  There is pure almond extract in the pâte à choux and the icing.  The toasted blanched almonds are the crowning touch.

To share the joy and the calories, anyone who came through our door today was served a piece or sent home with one. 

Whether this pastry is American, French or Danish, it's still pretty good. Says those who came through our door today.


DANISH PUFF
Source: Free Press Report on Family June 1980

BASE:
1 cup sifted all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons water

TOP:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup water
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sifted all purpose flour
3 eggs

ICING:
1 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons almond extract
2 teaspoons water, or as needed

50 grams sliced almonds, toasted*

Heat oven to 350ºF.

Base: Measure flour into bowl. Cut in butter. Sprinkle with water and mix with a fork. Round into a ball. Chill for 30 minutes. Divide in half and pat dough onto an un-greased cookie sheet. Make two strips 12" - 13" in length and about 3 1/2" wide. Strips should be placed 3" apart. Set aside to chill while preparing the next layer.

Top: Put butter and water into a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil. Turn the heat right down to low. Add almond extract. Stir in flour immediately to keep from lumping. Continue to stir until a ball is formed. Remove from heat. When smooth and thick, add one egg at a time, beating until smooth. Ensure that each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Once the last egg has been beaten in, continue to beat for another minute. Divide in half and spread one half evenly over each piece of pastry. Bake about 60 minutes until topping is crisp and nicely browned. 

Let cool completely before icing.

Icing: Add almond extract to the powdered sugar. Add the water slowly, testing the consistency.  The icing should be runny but not so runny that it can not be controlled off the end of a spoon.  If it becomes too runny, add icing sugar.

With quick movements, create lines across the top of the pastries by drizzling the icing off the end of a spoon. Try to avoid 'puddling' the icing.  Once it is well covered, sprinkle generously with the toasted almonds.  Continue drawing lines with the icing as a way of 'gluing' the nuts to the top of the dessert.

This is best served the day it is baked.

* To toast the sliced almonds bake them in a  350ºF for 5 minutes until they turn lightly brown.

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