Prep 3 hrs
Cook 9 hrs
Danish pastries are the flakiest and the most buttery of all the sweet rolls. These cinnamon rolls just melt in your mouth.This recipe takes all day to make but the results are really worth it. To make it easier you can complete the recipe through step 26 on one day, and then make the actual rolls the next day. The recipe may seem complicated but it's really not. Most of the time the dough is either resting or rising. For this recipe you'll need a pastry brush and something that will allow you to evenly distribute flour over your work surface. A sifter or a shaker of some type is fine. Also, you must use real butter. It can be salted or unsalted (I use salted) but do not try to substitute margarine. The recipe will not work with margarine. You'll end up with a big mess in your oven if you use margarine. Also, in step #11 where it says to thoroughly flour your work surface, you need to resist the temptation to knead any more flour into the dough. The dough is SUPPOSE to be that wet. Note: If you wish to measure the flour by weight rather than by volume, 3 1/4 cups flour is approximately equal to 14.33 ounces or 406 grams.
- 1 1⁄2 cups cold butter
- 1⁄4 cup flour
- 2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast (not rapid rise)
- 1 cup milk, heated to about 110 f
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1⁄4 cup sugar
- 3 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons butter (divided in half)
- 1 cup brown sugar (divided in half)
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon (divided in half)
- 4 tablespoons flour (divided in half)
- 1 cup pecans (finely chopped, divided in half)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 teaspoon water
- 3⁄4 lb powdered sugar (Add more if icing is too thin)
- 5 tablespoons milk (Add more if icing is too thick)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Make the butter roll-in first.
- With a pastry blender or two knives (using two knives is actually easier) cut the flour and the 3 sticks of butter together until combined but do not let the butter become warm. The butter should never be allowed to become warm the entire to time you are working with this dough.
- Tear off a sheet of waxed paper and dump the butter on to it. Place another sheet of waxed paper on top.
- Beat the the butter between the two sheets of waxed paper with a rolling pin until it becomes malleable. Make sure it stays cold though.
- With a spatula, a knife or whatever, shape the mound of butter into an 7"x9" rectangle. It doesn't have to be perfect but try to get it into a rectangular shape as best you can.
- Set aside in a cool spot or place back in the refrigerator while you make the dough, but don't let the butter re-harden. You want the butter to be cold but still soft and pliable. If it's too hard it will break through the dough when you roll it out.
- For the dough combine the packages of yeast with the warm milk and let sit 5 minutes to soften.
- Mix in the salt, sugar, and eggs.
- Add the 3 1/4 cups flour all at once and stir until thoroughly combined. You should have a very soft and sticky dough.
- Chill dough in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.
- If the block of butter is in the refrigerator remove it when you place the dough in there to chill. You don't want the butter to re-harden and it's best if the dough and the butter are approximately the same temperature.
- Sprinkle your work surface generously, and I do mean generously, with flour. I use a shaker to evenly distribute the flour and completely cover the area I'm going to be rolling the dough out on. A simple dusting won't do. You need a good thick layer of flour, maybe as much as a 1/16 to an 1/8 of an inch thick. Don't worry about using too much flour because any excess will be brushed away with your pastry brush.
- Roll dough out into a 11"x16" rectangle.
- With a pastry brush brush all the excess flour off the top of the dough. Excess flour will interfere with layer formation.
- Place the block of butter on one side of the dough leaving a small border around the edges.
- Fold the other half of the dough over and pinch the seams together slightly to seal to encase the block of butter. If dough sticks to the table when you try to fold it then simply brush it with flour. Don't worry if the dough doesn't look too pretty at this point. It will get better.
- Turn the dough 1/4 turn so the part of the folded dough that opens up is on your right(like a book). Brush away the excess flour that's on top of the dough.
- Roll the folded dough into an 8"x20" rectangle. When you roll out the dough you want to make sure you use even strokes and roll from one end to the other. Avoid quick back and forth movements with the rolling pin and do not roll over the edge of your dough. This will destroy the layers you're trying to make. If the butter breaks through the dough simply sprinkle a little bit of flour over the spot.
- Brush away all excess flour off the top of the dough.
- Fold 1/3 of the dough over and brush off the excess flour and then fold the other 1/3 of the dough over that so the dough resembles a business letter.
- Roll out the dough again and fold it in thirds like a business letter just like you did before.
- Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This completes the first two "turns". Each time you roll out the dough and fold it you are doing what's known as a turn. A turn gets its name because after you fold the dough you have to turn it a quarter turn when you go to roll it out again. Each time you roll out the dough you want to make sure that the part of the dough that opens up is always on the right (like the way a book opens). It can open on the left if you want but the important thing is to be consistent.
- Meanwhile, take your pastry brush and a sheet of paper and sweep up all the flour on your work surface so you can use it again. You'll find that very little of the flour you used to roll out the dough actually gets worked into the dough.
- After the dough has chilled, sprinkle your work surface with your recycled flour and place the dough on it.
- Roll out and fold the dough in thirds exactly as you did before. (turn #3).
- Chill dough for 1 more hour.
- Repeat this rolling and folding one more time (turn # 4). You should now have a dough with 162 flaky layers (2x3x3x3x3). You started with two layers of dough separated by a layer of butter. Each time you rolled the dough out and folded it in thirds you increased the number of layers by a factor of 3.
- Chill dough for at least 3 hours or overnight if preferred. At this point you have a basic Danish pastry dough.
- With a sharp serrated knife, cut the dough in half.
- Keep one half in the refrigerator while you work with the first half.
- Roll the half of dough into a 9"x16" rectangle.
- Sprinkle the top of the dough with the cinnamon topping which consists of 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 tablespoons flour, and 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans.
- Roll dough into a tight 16" long log.
- Cut dough into 16 pieces. The easiest way to do this is to cut the log in half and then cut those halves in half and so forth. If dough is too soft to slice wrap it up and refrigerate it for an hour or place it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Place cinnamon rolls on ungreased baking sheets at least 3 inches apart so they have room to rise and expand.
- Repeat with the other half of the dough.
- Cover the trays of cinnamon rolls with towels and set aside to rise until the rolls are ALMOST doubled (about a 75% increase in size). Don't put them in a warm spot because you don't want the butter to melt. Rising time may take a few hours or more. After a couple hours the surface of the rolls may start to dry out, especially if the air is dry. If this happens, cover the tray of rolls with a damp paper towel and then put another towel on top of that.
- Brush rolls lightly with egg wash and bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until they are golden brown. Be sure to watch them carefully so they don't burn. If rolls are browning too fast on top lower the oven temperature about 15 degrees. If you have thin or dark colored baking sheets you may want to double-pan them so the bottoms of the cinnamon rolls don't get too dark.
- Drizzle powdered sugar icing over the rolls while they are still warm.
- To make icing simply combine powdered sugar with a teaspoon or two of vanilla and enough milk so you can drizzle it. I usually use about 3/4 to 1 pound of powdered sugar. As far as the amount of milk goes, I just kind of eyeball it.
I doubled the recipe and it was really exact. I changed the dough slightly by adding a bit of cinnamon and vanilla bean seeds. They weren't quite as big as I expected and took a while to rise. Next time I'll probably make them larger. But it was a great recipe and everyone loved them.
Started at 8:30 AM, pastries came out of the oven at 5:15 PM same day. Very delicious. Made the 32 rolls as called for, put raisins as an 'extra" in half of them. Dough was not as sticky as I thought it would be (based on recipe) so it was easy to handle. I rolled it all out at once rather than cut it in half. Easy to make and they turned out great. I have 20 yrs of commercial baking experience, so for me it was not a difficult recipe to do. I've done plenty of danish and mille feuille back in the day. I've been searching for a danish recipe to try out for a while and stumbled across this one. - Jim Barry, Nova Scotia
These rolls are just incredible. I was a bit intimidated by all of the steps but thought I'd try it. After going through the recipe, it really isn't a difficult recipe to make and the dough turned out beautifully. I split it in half and made cinnamon rolls with half of it and regular danish with the other half. This dough puffs up beautifully and is so flaky and light, yet so flavorful. It took eating cinnamon rolls to a whole new level. :-) The only thing I will note is that I did bake the cinnamon rolls one day and then left the other half of the dough in the refrigerator overnight. When I went to use it the next day, the dough had risen in the refrigerator and blew through the plastic wrap, so parts of it had dried out. (Which I just cut off.) But that is something to keep in mind if you're making this ahead of time. Thank you so much for sharing this, it really is incredible.