A Guest Post by my Honey Girl
Every Saturday morning during high school I would wake up early to bake. I particularly liked recipes that called for the butter to be cut into the dough by hand. I loved the rhythm of the integration and the feeling of pinching those cold knobs of butter into the yeasty dough or soft flour mixture. I would stand at the counter, my hands caked with sticky dough, usually my toes squidging together flour dust and salt– I’d always been a messy baker–and I remember feeling calm. When my hands were kneading in that bowl I felt truly relaxed, a nice respite from my academic anxiety. Eventually my parents would wander out into the kitchen, my dad usually bracing for the inevitable mess, and we would drink cups of coffee or tea while I tidied and my buttery breakfast good baked. One of my favorites to make and to eat was and is Danish hazelnut snails. Made with Danish dough with a sweet folded-in filling, the snails, speckled with hazelnuts, unfurl in the oven revealing their cinnamon innards.
Danish Hazelnut Snails (Snegler)
Adapted from Beatrice Ojakangas’ The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
Yield: 24 muffin-sized pastries
1 recipe quick method Danish pastry (recipe below)
½ c. softened butter
1 c. light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 c. finely chopped hazelnuts
1 t. cinnamon
1 slightly beaten egg
- Place paper cupcake liners in 24 muffin cups.
- Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to make a 20-inch square. Spread with the butter. Sprinkle with the brown sugar, hazelnuts, and cinnamon.
- Roll up jellyroll fashion. Cut into 24 slices. Place slices with cut side up into each of the muffin cups.
- Let rise in a cool place for 30 to 45 minutes, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush pastries with beaten egg. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve warm.
Danish Pastry Tips
We use cream and omit the cardamom seed, mix by hand, and don’t bother with bringing the eggs for the pastry to room temperature or with brushing the finished pastries with egg.
No need to bother with a thermometer for the water. It should feel lukewarm and just above body temperature.
It’s convenient to make the pastry dough the night before you make the snails. Then all you have to do is shape them and bake them the next morning. We chill for the minimum 30 minutes during the rolling and folding of the pastry the next morning and let them rise the minimum 30 minutes.
Quick Method Danish Pastry
3¾ c. all purpose flour
1½ c. chilled unsalted butter
2 packages active dry yeast
½ c. warm water, 105 to 115 degrees
½ c. heavy cream or undiluted evaporated milk
½ t. freshly crushed cardamom seed (optional)
½ t. salt
2 eggs at room temperature
¼ c. sugar
- Measure 3½ c. flour into a bowl, or into the work bowl of the food processor with the steel blade in place. Cut the butter into ¼-inch slices and add to the flour. Process or cut the butter into the flour until the butter is about the size of kidney beans.
- In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let stand five minutes. Stir in the cream or milk, cardamom, salt, eggs, and sugar.
- Turn the flour-butter mixture into the liquid ingredients, and with a rubber spatula, mix carefully just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Cover and refrigerate four hours, overnight, or up to four days.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board; dust with flour.
- Pound and flatten to make a 16- to 20-inch square. Fold into thirds making three layers. Turn dough around and roll out again. Fold from the short sides into thirds. This should result in a perfect square. Repeat folding and rolling again if you wish. Wrap and chill the dough 30 minutes or as long as overnight.