Danish Pastries

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

What Americans call “Danish” pastries also originated as Vienna goods, but were introduced to the United States via Copenhagen. In the 19th century, Danish bakers took a basic Viennese enriched bread dough and added even more layering butter, thus making a lighter, crisper pastry than the original. They also used the dough to surround a variety of fillings, notably remonce (butter creamed with sugar and often including some form of almonds). Danish pastries are made in essentially the same way as croissants. The initial dough is moister and softer, includes sugar and also whole eggs, so it’s sweeter, richer, and distinctively yellow, and it isn’t given an initial rising. Often more butter or margarine is used for the laminations, and the dough may only be turned three times, so the layers are fewer and thicker. Danish pastry dough is often used as a container for sweet or rich fillings, or rolled out, covered with a combination of nuts, raisins or flavored sugar, rolled up, and cut into spiral cross-sections. Once the final pastry is formed, it’s allowed to rise until about doubled in volume (again, at temperatures that keep the shortening solid), and then is baked.