These very easy Danish pastries, using quick croissant dough, are an excellent approximation to Danish pastries that are made with traditional croissant dough.
Although this version is something of a short-cut, with little hands-on time, they are light, flaky and taste excellent. Many shortcuts use bought puff pastry, but using an easy homemade croissant dough such as this gives them more substance – not to mention making them more special!
The quick croissant dough approach:
Traditional croissant dough takes the best part of a weekend to make, with all the resting needed to get that excellent light, honeycombed structure; that said, I find making a traditional croissant dough one of baking’s greatest pleasures!
The fabulous Nigella Lawson does a great short-cut version by pulsing the butter with the flour in a food processor, but I grate frozen butter into the flour: an approach I recall my gran doing over 30 years ago.
This dough is made up in under 20 minutes before being left to rest in the fridge for a few hours – or frozen for later use. But I have been known to make it up in the morning before work and leave it in the fridge until later that day to use!
Using further shortcuts:
There are all manner of shortcuts and tips for getting ahead that can be taken while still giving pastries that taste wonderful:
- the rhubarb can be cooked a few days in advance and chilled
- freeze the squares of dough so that they can be taken straight out of the freezer and topped
- the orange curd can be made a week or so in advance
- use a good quality commercial orange curd, but make it even more special by adding finely grated orange zest
- instead of orange curd, use good quality bought custard (the thicker the better) and flavour with orange zest and a little orange juice
- cream cheese, flavoured with a little caster sugar, orange zest and a little orange juice instead of the curd or the custard
You can flavour these however you like. Other favourite flavours of mine include the following:
- frangipane topped with sliced & fanned poached pear
- pecans and maple syrup
- cinnamon custard and sliced apple
- passionfruit curd and raspberries
Recipe: very easy orange & rhubarb Danish pastries – makes 10
- 1 quantity of short-cut croissant dough: recipe here
- a couple of stalks of fresh rhubarb, sliced diagonally or into small chunks
- 100g caster sugar
- 100ml water
- the grated zest and juice of a small orange
- a vanilla pod, split lengthways
- about 100g orange curd (replace the passionfruit with the juice and grated zest of 3 large oranges in this recipe)
- 100g good quality melted white chocolate, plus about 30g for drizzling over the baked pastries
(1) Prepare the rhubarb: heat the sugar, water, orange juice, orange zest and vanilla pod in a pan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for about 5 minutes until slightly syrupy. Remove from the heat and add the rhubarb, leaving it to sit gently for about 5-7 minutes in the heat of the syrup until it softens just a little. Remove the rhubarb from the syrup and reserve the syrup (which will be the glaze).
(2) Prepare the curd topping: mix the orange curd with the 100g of melted white chocolate.
(3) Roll out the dough to a rectangle just over 50cm by 20cm, trim the edges and cut into squares about 10cm by 10cm – or any size you wish. NB: You can freeze these squares of dough at this stage, if preferred, wrapping them in greaseproof and topping them later from frozen – just give them time to defrost before allowing them to rise.
(4) Assemble: top each square of dough with a little of the orange curd, spreading it almost to the edge. Scatter over a few pieces of the rhubarb. Leave to rise for an hour or two until nicely risen. NB: you can bring two opposite corners of the dough to the centre, pressing them together gently to seal – as the dough bakes, the seal might break but you get a nice curl shape.
(5) Bake in an oven preheated to 190C (fan) for about 15-20 minutes until deep golden brown. As soon as they come out of the oven, brush liberally with the reserved syrup. When they have cooled, melt the rest of the white chocolate and drizzle over the pastries.