This versatile Danish shape may be made with any filling that isn’t runny when heated.
Makes twelve 4-inch square pastries
1/2 batch Danish Pastry Dough, below, chilled
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Egg Wash: 1 egg well beaten with a pinch of salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted after measuring
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
One large cookie sheet or jellyroll pan lined with parchment paper or foil
- For the filling, combine the cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla in a small bowl and use a small rubber spatula to beat them together.
- Place the dough on a floured surface and lightly flour the dough. Use your rolling pin to press the dough in firm parallel strokes in both directions to soften it slightly. Flour the surface and the dough again if necessary and roll the dough to a 12 x 17-inch rectangle. Slide the dough to a cookie sheet or flexible cutting board and refrigerate it until firm, about 10 minutes.
- Use a sharp pizza wheel to cut away a 1-inch wide strip of dough from one of the 12-inch sides and reserve it. Cut the remaining dough into 12 4-inch squares.
- Leave the squares of dough in place on the work surface and drop a heaping teaspoon of the almond filling in the center of each. Fold the 4 corners of the square to meet in the center over the filling, only overlapping them about 1/4 inch. Place pastries on the prepared pan.
- Cut the reserved strip of dough into 12 1-inch squares. Brush a little egg wash in the center of each pastry; center one of the squares of dough on each so that the sides of the square align with the open areas of the folded-in dough. Cover the pan with a towel and let the pastries rise until they just start to puff, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 400˚F.
- Once the pastries have risen, brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sliced almonds. Bake the pastries until they are deep golden and the filling is set, about 20 minutes. Cool on a rack.
- While the pastries are cooling, prepare the water icing. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir well to mix. Place over low heat and cook until just lukewarm, about 110˚F. Use a spoon to drizzle the icing in parallel lines on each pastry. Let the icing dry before serving.
Danish Pastry Dough
Makes about 2 1/4 pounds dough
3 1/2 teaspoons (1 1/2 envelopes) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm tap water, about 110˚F
1/3 cup milk, heated and cooled to 110˚F
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
2 large eggs, at room temperature
- Whisk the yeast into the warm water. Wait a minute or two, then whisk again to make sure that all the yeast has dissolved. Whisk in the milk.
- Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse a few times to mix.
- Cut 4 tablespoons of the butter into thin slices and add to the bowl. Pulse to mix in finely, but don’t let the mixture become pasty.
- Cut the remaining butter into 1/2-inch cubes and add to the work bowl. Pulse exactly twice for 1 second at a time to combine very roughly.
- Transfer to a mixing bowl. Whisk the eggs into the yeast mixture and pour the whole mixture into the bowl. To mix in the liquid, position a rubber spatula so its blade is flat and parallel with the bottom of the bowl and repeatedly dig down to the bottom of the bowl while turning the bowl. Mix until the dough comes together; it will be soft and sticky.
- Press plastic wrap against the dough and refrigerate it for 1 to 2 hours.
- Scrape the chilled dough to a floured surface and flour the dough. Use the palms of your hands to press the dough into a rectangle about twice as long as it is wide. Starting at the narrow end of the rectangle farthest from you, use a rolling pin to firmly press the dough in parallel strokes close to each other. If there are sticky pieces of butter on the surface of the dough, seal them with a large pinch of flour, making sure to clean off the rolling pin of anything stuck to it before continuing. Repeat the pressing motion from the close to the farther narrow end of the dough.
- Press the dough once in the width—it should now be a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Once again, flour under and on top of the dough and roll the dough away and back toward you in the length and once in the width, without rolling over the ends, to make a rectangle about 18 inches long and 8 inches wide.
- Fold the two 8-inch ends of the dough in toward the middle of the rectangle, leaving a 1-inch space in the middle. Fold the top down to the bottom to form 4 layers of dough. Reposition the dough do that the folded edge that resembles the spine of a book is on your left. Rolling and folding the dough is known as “giving the dough a turn.”
- Give the dough another full turn of rolling and folding.
- Wrap the folded dough in plastic and chill it for at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours before using it.