I know what you are thinking, what the heck do the cute little teddy bears have to do with Danishes. I'm in the middle of a double move, we are bringing college girl back home in a couple of days and I'm packing up my house so we can move as soon as my other daughter gets out of school.
I thought about being all organized and having guest posters and other ways to fill the void, but I must face facts here, I'm tired and the next couple of weeks will be just plain craziness. Hopefully you can attempt these lovely bear claws to help you fill the void of my absence for the next couple of weeks.
I've been putting off the packing, like some magical packing fairy will come do it for me. We are moving to a much smaller place, so some stuff has to go, hence part of the problem. When I came across these bins in my closet with mementos the girls had given me over the years, I found these teddy bears.
The reality of the move has started to sink in and I've been a little sad, so I decided why not do a little baking to cheer myself up.
Danish Dough Adapted from Cindy Mushet the Art and Soul of Baking
1/4 cup warm whole milk (110 to 115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon sugar plus 1/2 teaspoon
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cold large egg
3 ounces cold whole milk
1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest from 1 orange
Pour the warm milk into a small bowl and whisk in the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Whisk in the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes, or until mixture is bubbling.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar, the egg and cold milk. Whisk the yeast mixture into the egg mixture. Add the flour, salt and orange zest. Attach the dough hook and mix on lowest speed for 1 - 2 minutes. Dust a work surface lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Knead the dough 3 to 5 times just to finish bringing it together. The dough will not be smooth; it will become fully kneaded and smooth during the rolling and turning process. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
1 1/2 (6 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/8 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Toss the butter pieces with the flour and refrigerate for 20 minutes. In the cleaned stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the floured butter on medium speed, scraping down the bowl once or twice with a silicone spatula, for 1 or 2 minutes, until the butter and flour form a smooth mass. You are not trying to beat air into the mixture, just make it pliable and smooth. Scrape the butter onto a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap, wrap it up and refrigerate while you roll out the dough.
Lightly dust the work surface with flour. Set the dough in the center and dust the top with flour. Roll the dough into a 15 by 12-inch rectangle with a short side parallel to the edge of your work surface. Gently pull or stretch the dough to form straight edges and sharp corners. Brush any flour from the surface. Visually divide the dough crosswise into 3 equal, 5-inch wide sections. Spread the cold but pliable butter evenly over the top two sections of dough, leaving the bottom third empty and leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges of the buttered sections. This is best done with your fingers.
Fold the empty bottom third up over the center third of the dough. Then fold the top third down over the center. Pinch together the seams along the bottom and sides of the dough. Roll your rolling pin across the top of the dough a couple of times to seal the dough. If your butter is still cool you can do a second turn now, if not wrap it and put it back in the refrigerator for a few.
Position the dough with the short side parallel to your work surface and the long fold on your left. Dust the dough with flour and roll it into a 20 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush any flour from the surface of the dough. Fold the dough using the book fold method: Fold the two short edges into the center of the dough, leaving a 1/4-inch crevice between them. Line up the edges and square the corners as you fold. Now fold one side over the other, as though you were closing a book. Roll your pin across the top of the dough 3 or 4 times to seal. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and repeat the process in the last paragraph, so you have a total of 3 folds. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours before using.
Orange and Almond Filling
2 ounces almond paste
1 tablespoon sugar
2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
zest from 1 orange
1 1/2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
Break or cut the almond paste into small pieces and put them in the bowl of the food processor. Add the sugar and process 20-30 seconds. Add the butter and process or mix until well blended. Add the egg, orange zest, and flour. Process until combined. Place into a disposable piping bag and set aside.
Dust your work surface with flour. Place the dough in the center and dust with flour. Roll into 16 by 12 by 1/4-inch rectangle. Position the dough so that one of the long edges is parallel to the edge of your work surface. Using a ruler and a chef's knife, mark the dough at 4-inch intervals. Cut the dough into 12 (4") squares.
Cut a small amount of the tip of the pastry bag off and pipe a 3-inch long line of filling in the center of each square. Brush the edges with a thin film of water, then fold the dough over the filling. Press to seal. Cut 4 or 5 1/2-inch long slits through the bottom sealed edge of each pastry. Place onto baking sheets lined with parchment or silpats. Curve the pastries into a smile so the slits separate and form a claw.
Cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap and let the claws rise in a cool spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and position a rack in the center. Chill the bear claws for 15 minutes. This will make for a flakier texture. In a small bowl, lightly beat 1 egg and 1 tablespoon milk. Brush the claws with egg wash and sprinkle each one with sliced almonds, or place on toes.
Bake one sheet at a time for 14 to 16 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack.
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon milk (or more until thin enough to drizzle)
Combine all the above in a bowl.
Once cooled drizzle bear claws with confectioners' glaze.
See all those yummy layers of pastry, it's because we went through all that trouble to book fold the dough. I hope you try this recipe and keep yourself busy during my absence. I'll probably be checking in with all of you even if I'm not posting. So don't think you are going to get away with slacking, he he.
Peace out from the Teddies,