Perhaps that's why I just couldn't pass the Danish recipe again without giving it a try. After cleaning three bathrooms, the fridge, vacuuming through the house, mopping all of the floors, catching up with some laundry, dusting and tree decorating, cleaning a certain messy boys room, making dinner, baking cookies and of course, a full day of school work - I didn't have a great deal of energy left last night, so I decided if I was going to do Danish, it would have to be easy - and it was! Truly!
I made the dough last night and shaped and baked them this morning! Yummy! Enjoy!
Easy Danish Pastry
Scald 1 cup of whole milk and set aside to cool to lukewarm.
Combine 1/4 cup warm water with 1 teaspoon of sugar and stir to dissolve. Sprinkle 2 1/4 teaspoons of dry active yeast over top and let sit for 10 minutes. It should get really foamy and creamy - and if it doesn't, either your yeast is old and dead or your water was too hot, so start again! Stir to dissolve.
In large stand mixer bowl measure 4 cups unbleached all purpose flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cut up 1 1/2 cups of cold butter into the flour mixture and using the paddle blade on your mixer or a pastry blender, 'cut in' the butter until the lumps are about the size of small peas!
Beat 2 large eggs really well; add cooled milk and yeast mixture and stir well.
Add milk mixture to flour and butter mixture using the dough hook on your mixer. This will be a soft sticky kind of dough, and I added about 1/4 cup more flour at this point because it wouldn't pull together into a ball. Butter a medium sized bowl and a piece of waxed paper (one side). Dump the ball of dough in the buttered bowl and turn it once to coat with butter. Place the greased wax paper over the dough and cover with a tea towel. Place in fridge overnight.
At this point I lined the cookie sheets with parchment paper and assessed the jam situation. We had lots of dribs and drabs of homemade jam on the go so it was the perfect time to Danish!
In the morning, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, take the dough from the fridge and flour your counter. Cut the dough in 1/2 - it will be stiff because, of course all that butter has hardened, but don't fret! Working with one 1/2 at a time, flour your rolling pin and roll out in a large rectangle, about 8"x16". Cut into 4 inch squares. Bring all four corners of each square almost to the center of the square and press in to make a small indent for your filling. Place each one on parchment lined cookie sheet, about 2" apart. Repeat with second half of dough. You should have 16 pastries. Beat an egg and add 1 tsp. cold water to make an egg wash; brush over the pastries. Let the pastries sit on top of the stove for 15 minutes.
Now is the fun part - plop a teaspoon of jam, apple butter, or prune butter in the middle of each - or a small cube of cream cheese, or lemon curd ... or whatever you can imagine!
Bake for 20-22 minutes or until puffed and golden. Remove to cooling rack. Glaze with thin icing made of 1 cup confectioners sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk and a dash of pure almond extract whisked together.
Makes 16 melt in your mouth Danishes, which are sure to disappear quickly!
NOTE: It took longer to write this than it did to make them - honestly!