Recipe by Sarah Phillips and Kelly Hong; Food styling and photos by Kelly Hong © 4-24-2013 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
Flaky Danish dough makes exceptional pastries and it's not as hard to make as you might think! These classic Danish shapes are layered with brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans then drizzled with a vanilla-scented glaze. When making Danish pastry it is important to keep the dough very cold. Thus, when are you are shaping small pastries, it is sometimes necessary to re-chill the partially shaped dough until it is firm enough complete the shaping.
The first time you make the pastry, be careful to follow all the rules, and I don't recommend making it on a hot summer day unless your kitchen is air conditioned. However, we've included shortcut tips with this recipe to help speed the process of making them along.
PASTRY RECIPE HELP
After you get a little experience making this recipe, you can attempt shortcuts like rolling out and folding the dough twice in succession without re-chilling it. Another way to shorten the process is to place the dough in the freezer in between rollings. Usually about 10 minutes in the freezer is sufficient. When you use this shortcut, be careful not to freeze the dough until it's solid. The shaped pastries can also be chilled in the freezer. You can even freeze them and bake them directly from the freezer! Just add a little time to the baking time. And although they can be frozen, unbaked yeast pastries should never be kept frozen for more than a week or so. It is ideal to bake your Danish pastry within a day or two after shaping it.
1 recipe Basic Danish Pastry Dough, well-chilled
*NOTE: In the recipe's instructions, the dough will be divided in half to make two braids. Instead, you can use one dough half to make 1 Danish Pastry Braid and the other half to make 1/2 recipe or 12 Danish Pecan Snails, if desired. But if you make 12 Danish Pastry Snails, use half of the filling and icing ingredients, below.
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Egg white wash:
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon water
Egg white wash:
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, for sprinkling
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted; measure and then sift
4-5 teaspoons cold milk, strong coffee, lemon or orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
STEP I: PREPARE THE PASTRY DOUGH.
1. *Divide chilled dough into 2 equal parts; each part will make 12 Danish Pecan Snails.
Wrap and return 1 part to the refrigerator until needed for the second batch. (For the second part, follow the same steps below for the second batch of Danish Pecan Snails.)
2. Lightly dust a silpat, nonstick mat with flour. Lightly dust the top of the Danish pastry dough with flour.
NOTE: It is very difficult to roll the dough on a piece of parchment paper. We recommend using a silpat mat.
3. Roll pastry to make a 16-inch square.
4. Trim edges with pizza cutter to make a neat square.
STEP II: FILL THE DOUGH.
Fill the dough:
1. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.
2. Beat the egg white with water. LIGHTLY brush the entire surface of the dough with the egg white wash.
Cover and refrigerate the remaining egg white wash for the second batch of Danish Pecan Snails.
3. Spread 1/2 of the brown sugar mixture on one half of the dough. Reserve the remainder for the second batch of Danish Pecan Snails.
4. Sprinkle 1/2 of the chopped nuts over the brown sugar mixture. Reserve the remainder for the second batch of Danish Pecan Snails.
4. Carefully fold the bottom half of the dough up and over the filling, and press down lightly to help encase the filling.
STEP III: SHAPE THE DANISH PECAN SNAILS
1. Use a ruler, and then use a pizza cutter to mark the center of the dough, at about 8-inches.
2. Mark each 1/4, at about 4-inches and 12-inches. Each 1/4 piece should be about 4-inches wide.
3. With a pizza cutter, cut each 1/4 into three strips, making 12 pieces, each about 1.33-inches wide.
Try to cut the strips as even as possible, but do not panic if some are a bit imperfect. It will all work out in the end.
4. Take one strip and gently stretch it to lengthen it a bit.
5. Then twist the strip by rolling it is on the work surface, pushing one hand in one direction, and the other hand in the opposite direction.
6. Roll the snail up by wrapping the strip in a tight spiral, then tuck the end underneath. This will keep the snail from unrolling while it bakes.
7. Press the snail down with your fingers to flatten a bit, then place them on a silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet.
8. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes. The dough WILL NOT double.
SARAH SAYS: Let rise at room temperature. Do not place them in an especially warm place to rise as you do not want the buttery layers to melt.
NOTE: Freeze the dough before rising, Step #8, for a month. Let thaw and rise before baking.
You may also cover the dough and refrigerate it overnight, where it will rise slowly. Bake off the Danish in the morning, to have them piping hot, for breakfast.
STEP IV: BAKE THE DANISH PECAN SNAILS AND ICE.
1. After Danish have been rising for 20 minutes, position an oven shelf to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Right before baking, at 45 minutes, beat the egg whites with water. Lightly brush the Danish with the egg white wash, and lightly sprinkle them with granulated sugar.
Cover and refrigerate the remaining egg white wash for the second batch of Danish Pecan Snails. Save the remaining sugar for the second batch.
3. Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then remove to rack to cool a bit more.
STEP IV: ICE THE BAKED DANISH PECAN SNAILS
1. Make the icing.
NOTE: Ice and serve the pastries while still warm.
2. In a small bowl, mix the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract to a drizzling consistency.
3. Spoon half of it into a small zip-lock plastic bag, seal the top, and snip a bottom corner to create a little decorating tube.
Cover and save the remainder for the second batch of Danish Pastry Snails.
4. Squeeze squiggles of the icing over the pastries, set on a cake rack positioned over a piece of parchment paper to catch any drips. Allow it to set for a few minutes.
Serve while the pastries are still warm.
Cool before storing. The baked Danish Pecan Snails can be stored, well wrapped, at room temperature for a few days, or frozen for a month.
Reheat in a 325 degree F oven, wrapped in foil.