Several days this past week were spent on laminated doughs, or more common names of puff pastry, croissant, and danish. The realization that I would get to learn how to make puff pastry got me psyched for baking techniques before the class started. Although, I completely understand why most places that do large scale production would use a pre-made puff pastry. Its not actually that difficult, but can be time consuming. The end result is well worth the efforts.
I think my favorite quote we got during the demo of puff pastry was about the “lock-in” of the butter block into the dough, as my chef said, “Imagine it as being a big grilled butter sandwich.” I assumed the multiple layers of flaky pastry came from multitudes of rolls and folds but in actuality, the lock-in is followed by four more fold combinations: a four fold, a three fold, another four, and another three.These ultimately result in 289 layers. Our chef went through the math behind it, but ultimately, its 289 layers, 145 dough, 144 butter.
Croissant and danish dough follow a similar pattern following the lock-in, but don’t get as many folds, and only one four fold. They are similar doughs and mainly differ in shape. The danish dough we used was a little sweeter and more enriched. It also incorporated some cardamom (one of my favorite spices!). The other main difference between croissant and danish dough versus puff pastry is they also have yeast for leavening. The leavening in puff is all from steam from moisture. Because of the yeast, croissant and danish also have to proof.
I could go on and on about all the neat little nuances with these doughs, things you can make with them, shapes they are formed into, and various fillings, but I’ll end with my biggest amusement out of the few days spent on these products. My favorite item took me back to childhood and that was a cheese danish. Something about the filling was very reminiscent of the filling they used in the old McDonald’s cheese danish, maybe it was just the baked cream cheese, but it brought a smile to my face.