Category Archives: Danish-Style

The Twist

Come on baby let’s do the…oh that’s too corny for Wednesday morning. The twist can be an intimidating thing for beginning coffeecake shapers, since it’s sort of like open heart surgery on a piece of dough. The first time you do it you feel like all you’re doing is making a big mess. But as long as you carry on with confidence you soon bring order out of chaos. Just take me by my little hand and go like this…

Starting with a standard dough rectangle, again about a 14-ounce piece rolled out and trimmed, sprinkle on some cinnamon sugar (one tablespoon of cinnamon to one cup of granulated sugar, though you won’t need that much for one coffeecake). Cover the whole surface.

Curl over the lip of the square and start rolling it up.

Keep it as tight as you reasonably can. As you get toward the end, pat the ends a little (and/or stretch the corners of the piece) to keep the ends squared.

Once that’s done, it’s time to open. A bench scraper please, nurse. You want the roll seam side-down on the board. Starting about an inch and a half down from the end, press the blade down through the center of the roll, cutting a slit all the way through.

Make a second incision a bit further down, again leaving about an inch and a half of uncut roll at the end.

Open the roll. Nurse, give me some suction there, please. And a sponge. More light!

Now for the first twist. Grasp the top end of the roll. Yes, you’ll have to touch the innards. Eeew…

Flip the end through the opening from underneath. Steady now.

See? Not so hard. Have your assistant dab the perspiration from your brow and continue.

Flip the top end under again.

That’s two twists. Almost there!

Pick up the bottom end…

…and flip it through the opening from above.

Like so.

And the operation is complete. You may now close. Nurse, sutures.

Pick up the shaped cake and transfer it to a parchment-lined sheet pan. Paint it with a wash of beaten egg. Preheat your oven to 400 while the coffeecake proofs, about 45 minutes.

When it’s slightly puffy, apply more egg wash. Insert the pan in the oven and immediately drop the heat to 375. Bake the coffeecake for about half an hour until deeply golden.

Cool for about 15 minutes and apply the icing.

Allow the cake to cool completely before serving, about an hour. Or serve warm if you simply can’t stand it.

Filed under:  Danish-Style, Pastry | 2 Comments

The Braided Coffeecake

If you’re looking for a coffeecake that will amaze your friends and terrify your enemies, this is the one. Actually quite simple, it will make you look like a true master of the breakfast pastry-shaping arts. It works very well with chocolate. Start by making a simple filling out of three ounces of chocolate and half an ounce of butter. Combine them in a small dish…

…and melt them together in a microwave, applying as many 10-second bursts (on high) as needed, stirring between each. You’ll get something that looks like this:

Now for the shaping. Roll and trim a roughly 14-ounce piece of Danish dough to a square about 14″ x 12″. Using an icing spatula or a butter knife, score the dough lightly into thirds.

Make a series of sloping cuts in the dough, about half an inch apart, down each side of the dough piece. A pizza cutter is the perfect instrument for this job, but a sharp knife will also work.

Carefully cut away the very top pieces…

…and remove them.

Do the same with the very bottom pieces.

Now apply the chocolate filling in the center. You need not use all of it if it seems over-full.

Now, fold down the top flap…

…then start folding in the side strips, left, right, left, right, left, right…

…all the way to the bottom. Pretty no? And so easy.

Slip your hands under the cake and gently transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Apply a wash of beaten egg to the surface and set the pastry aside to proof, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 degreed Fahrenheit.

When the pastry is slightly puffy, apply another coat of egg wash, then insert the pan in the oven.

Immediately drop the heat to 375 and bake about half an hour until the coffeecake is a deep golden brown. Allow it to cool completely before serving.

Filed under:  Danish-Style, Pastry | 18 Comments

The Classic Coffee Cake

Just like the kind that comes in the box at the grocery store, only much, much, much, much better. This is the easiest kind of all to shape, and can be filled with pretty much anything from jam to chocolate to cheese to fruit. This one will be raspberry. Start with about a third cup of raspberry jam. Add a few drops of almond extract for extra awesomeness and stir it in.

Being careful not to get any filling on the edges, spread a medium-thin layer over the center of one half of the dough. Why shouldn’t you get any on the edges?

Because that’s where your beaten egg glue goes.

Paint it all around the edge of the dough piece, then lift up the far end…

…and fold it over the filling.

Ideally, you want a touch of overlap on the outer edge, since the tendency for the top layer of dough will be to lift off as it rises. Press firmly all around the outer edge of the pastry to seal it. Press down along the fold as well to discourage any bubbling or curling along that side of the cake.

Brush any residual flour off the surface…

…slip your hands under the cake and transfer it to a parchment-lined sheet pan.

Now, using a pair or kitchen shears, snip steam vents in the top layer of dough. The pattern is up to you.

Paint the pastry with egg wash, being careful not to seal the vents shut.

While the cake proofs, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The coffeecake will need to rise for about 45 minutes, just until it’s slightly puffed. As with all laminated pastries, it need not rise much, certainly nothing like double its size. About a 30% increase in size is all you need. How much is that? Just enough so you notice it, but not so much that the dough is spongy on the outside. See here?

At this point you’ll want to paint on another coating of egg wash. It also helps to run a moistened finger all the way around the edge, again, just to keep the top from making any funny moves in the oven. Open the oven, put in the cake, and immediately drop the temperature to 375.

Bake it about half an hour until the top is a deep gold, turning the pan once at about the 20 minute mark. Pretty much all coffeecakes of this style split at least a little in the oven, since the very top layer of dough gets brittle in the heat. This one split quite a bit more than I was hoping.

Oh well, that’s what icing is for.

See? Problem solved. Cool it completely before serving.

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Roll, Roll, Roll Your Dough

All the shapes I’m about to show you have a common point of origin: a roughly square piece of Danish pastry dough. So instead of having a 6-shot intro for every coffee cake tutorial, I thought I’d make things easy and put the rolling tutorial into just one post. Start with your dough piece, about 14 ounces. Lay it on an amply floured board…

…and apply the pin.

Roll the dough out into a slightly oblong rectangle, about 14 inches long and 12 inches wide.

You want the dough fairly thin. If it’s too thick you can get too much rising and that can distort the shape of the cake. You’re shooting for about 1/8″ inch.

The shape will probably be a little rough. You can trim it up if you like with a pizza cutter (keep those scraps in a bag in a freezer for projects yet unknown).

Brush the residual flour off the surface of the dough with a brush or a piece of paper towel…

…and you’re ready to rock and roll!

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It all starts with the dough.

Danish dough, since my favorite coffee cakes are made with laminated pastry. The recipe on the site will make enough for two coffee cakes of medium size. The great thing about laminated dough is that while it’s time-intensive to make it freezes beautifully. I like to make a whole lot, cut it up and freeze it. I can pull a piece of frozen dough out of the deep freeze the afternoon before I want to bake, and by morning it will be thawed and ready.

Filed under:  Danish-Style | 6 Comments