Pear Danishes

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At Bourke Street Bakery we pretend this is the healthy alternative to the butter-laden croissant because of the addition of freshly poached fruit. It is possible to substitute other fruit for the pears in this Danish. Peaches are delicious when they’re in season, as are plums. You may also wish to replace the vanilla with cinnamon sticks or a mix of star anise, cinnamon, cloves and a strip of orange peel. The sliced lemon is added to stop the fruit from discolouring. You will need to poach the pears and prepare the crème pâtissière at least one day in advance.

Ingredients

Poached Pears

  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1.2 kg (2 lb 10 oz/ cups) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 2 litres (70 fl oz/8 cups) water
  • 10 Buerre bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into eighths

Method

To make the poached pears, split the vanilla bean lengthways and scrape the seeds into a saucepan. Add the sugar, lemon and water. Bring to the boil over high heat, stirring well to dissolve the sugar, then reduce the heat to a very slow simmer. Add the pears to the simmering syrup and cook for about 20 minutes, or until they are easily pierced with a skewer — the poaching time will vary according to the ripeness of the fruit. Remove from the heat, allow to cool, and store in the syrup in an airtight container. Refrigerate until needed.

Take the rested dough from the refrigerator and roll it out into a rectangle, about 40 x 85 cm (16 x 33½ inches) and about 5 mm (¼ inch) thick. Rolling the dough may take quite a lot of energy as it may keep springing back to its original size. If this happens, rest the dough in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes then resume rolling. This resting process may need to be done a number of times. If the dough is becoming too large to fit in the refrigerator simply fold it over and place on a tray before placing it in.

Cut the dough into thirty-six 9 cm ( inch) squares. Place the squares on trays lined with baking paper and place in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.

Remove the squares from the fridge and working with one square at a time, fold each corner to meet in the centre pressing down firmly to create a smaller square. Arrange the Danishes back onto the lined trays at well-spaced intervals. Place teaspoons of crème pâtissière in the centre of each Danish and top with two pieces of pear.

Preheat the oven to 240°C (475°F/Gas 8). Cover the Danishes loosely with a damp tea towel (dish towel) and set aside in a warm room (about 25°C–27°C/77°F–81°F) for 1½–2 hours, or until almost doubled in size. Spray the tea towel with water occasionally if it becomes dry.

Remove the tea towel, brush the top of each Danish lightly with egg wash and place in the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5) and bake for about 15 minutes, or until a deep golden colour. Cool slightly on trays before dusting with icing sugar and serving.