Plum Custard Danish
I love laminated dough. I love making it, I love the way it looks when its raw with the layers of butter striped through the dough. When its cooked, the butter evaporates creating steam and pushes the dough apart giving it that rise and crispness. It reigns supreme in my books.
We had an abundance of plums so I made a plum jam with as little sugar as I could get away with. I wanted that good plumminess to come through as much as possible. Danish pastries can lose their integrity when they are saturated in sugar and jam and icing. We want to keep things in check.
I made the plum jam and the custard the day before to let them both set up. The recipes for those two are on a separate page due to the length of this recipe. This recipe makes 20 danishes, I proved and baked 10 and froze the rest. They freeze well and keep up to 1 month in good condition.
270g high grade flour (plus extra for dusting)
8g dried yeast (I used Edmonds Surebake, it worked a treat)
150g chilled whole milk
plum jam and custard for filling
50 - 100ml milk for glazing pre bake
3 tbsp white sugar
100ml hot water
Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and lightly mix together by hand. In a jug, mix together the yeast, milk and egg. Pour this onto the flour and mix together to form a shaggy mass. Set the dough aside for a moment while you attend to the butter.
Slice the butter into 6 slices. Cut two pieces of baking paper about 50-60cm in length (the average domestic baking paper width is 30cm) Lie these slices flat, in two rows of 3 on one of the pieces of baking paper. Cover with the other sheet of paper and gently press the rolling pin along the slabs. We want to shape and create 1 rectangle of butter that has a consistent thickness (roughly 22cm across and 12cm in width) We want the danishes to have beautiful, even layers and this is where we lay that foundation. Pastry is all about equations and outcomes. Getting that equation right and paying attention to details will produce good outcomes.
Once the butter is ready, lightly dust a clean bench and roll the dough out to a rectangle the same width as the butter but three times the length. I rolled mine 25cm in width and 40cm in length (about 4-5mm thickness). Imagine the dough is thirds
Remove the top layer of baking paper from the butter and lay it right on the edge of the dough, in what would be the middle third. Fold the 1st third over the butter and then the remaining third over that. Gently pat the dough to secure. Lay the dough on a tray and cover with clingfilm, tucking the edges around the sides of the pastry to prevent it drying. Chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
Next, take the pastry off the tray and place on a lightly floured bench. Turn the pastry 90 degrees and roll to a thickness of 4-5mm. Imagine the dough in thirds again and repeat the above step of folding, covering and chilling. Do this twice more, remembering to turn the dough 90 degress before rolliing and folding.
Once the dough has had its final fold, chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. The next step involves rolling and cutting the dough and because this takes a little longer, its better for the dough to be really cold. The fat will solidfy and you will not only get a cleaner cut but also, have a bit more time before the yeast is activated and starts to prove.
Lightly flour the bench and roll the dough out to a rectangle measuring 28cm by 50cm, a thickness of about 3-4mm. Cut the dough by marking the length 10cm apart and the width, 7cm apart. Cut in a slicing motion. Try not to drag the knife through the dough as this will tear the layers. There should be 20 squares.
Place half a teaspoon of custard in the middle of the squares and top with half a teaspoon of plum jam. Take the two opposites corners and bring them up to the centre, over the jam and custard. Pinch the corners together and press them into the jam and custard to secure.
Once you have your 20 danishes shaped and filled, you can either choose to bake them all or freeze some for another time. I baked 10 and froze 10 in this instance. For the 10 I froze, I lay them flat on baking paper and placed them in the freezer. Once they were solid, I placed them in a container, layered with baking paper. When you want to use them from frozen, just do the same as you would do for fresh, but they require a longer time as they have to defrost. A good way is to place what you need on a baking tray lined with paper, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge to defrost overnight. Take them out of the fridge and leave them in a warm place to prove and carry on as normal. It takes a lot longer but you have more control over the prove.
For the remaining 10, I placed them over 2 oven trays lined with baking paper, covered with lightly with clingfilm and placed them in a warm place in the house. I chose the lounge because it's a bit of a sun trap. I left them to prove for almost an hour, until they doubled in size.
Towards the end of their proving, about 10-15 minutes, preheat the oven to 200C. Once the danishes have fully proved, remove the cling film, brush them gently with a little milk (I used my finger because my pastry brush is too big with harsh bristles, I wanted to keep it delicate) and place in the oven. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden and crispy.
While the danishes are baking, make a light sugar syrup to brush over them at the end. You can use jam but I find it too heavy. Take 3 tbsp sugar and 100ml of hot water, place in a pan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside until the danishes are ready. Fresh out of the oven, brush the danishes with this syrup and leave to cool.
There you go, fresh plum custard danish pastries. So very rewarding and so delicious. Of course you can put apricot jam in instead of plum, or raisins, cinnamon and demerara sugar. I love the contrast of custard with a tart fruit. Definitely give these a try and remember, I am here to help if you need. Just drop me a line on here or instagram (@dinswithdins)