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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

666: The number of Herman the Danish pastry

I've found a recipe that's persuaded me to keep Herman a while longer. The Bara Brith was good, but not a deal breaker. A week or so ago I quite fancied some pastries and looking through recipes, learnt that Danish pastries are made with a yeast dough. That could be a winner.

I've now made these a couple of times. The first time I made pastry as for croissants, with all the folding and turning that involves. I probably didn't keep the dough cool enough, and maybe handled it too much, but there was no detectable flakiness in the end result. The second time I did it the easy way, with grated butter, and the result was better, if anything (though there were other variables). Here is the recipe:

For the dough
  • 6 oz plain flour
  • 6 oz butter
  • 6 tblsp friendship cake starter
(OK it could be any number three times over, but I happened to use six of each)

For the filling

Whatever you like, really. I brushed the dough with beaten egg and sprinkled on some crushed almonds and pistachio nuts mixed with demerara sugar - not very much of any of those.


Put the butter in the freezer for about half an hour before you start. Grate the butter into the flour. If you dip the butter into the flour this is easier. Mix in the starter using a cutting motion then bring the dough together with your hands, but try not to handle it too much. Put the dough in the fridge for half an hour or so.

I followed Delia's advice to let it come back to room temperature before rolling, but I'm not sure that's necessary. I notice she doesn't include it in the online recipe. Here we are, all ready to go:

Getting ready to make Danish pastries

There's the pastry in the black tub, beaten egg, nut and sugar mixture, lots of flour for rolling, rolling pin and, though you can't see it in the photo, between those two little handles is a cheese wire (of the kind that's ineffective against slugs) for cutting the pastries.

Here's the pastry rolled out into a big square...

... and here it is rolled up and sliced with the cheese wire.

I still had to cut the last bit with a knife, but the cheese wire made the whole business a lot less squashy.

I accidentally deleted the photo in between that showed you just how little filling I spread on this, so you'll just have to take my word for it that it wasn't very much. It was quite a lot less than the pot full in the top photo because I saved some to sprinkle on top, stuck down with more of the beaten egg.

Here they are all laid out on baking trays.

Leave to rise for half an hour. Actually, I'm not convinced that they did rise during that time. Maybe it's because they were rolled up. I wonder if it might be a better idea to leave the pastry to rise before rolling it up? Anyway, cook at gas mark 6/200C/400F for not very long. About 15 min I think, or maybe not that long. You could probably get away with having the oven a little cooler too, whatever Delia says, but then you'd have to leave them a little longer. Take out when they smell cooked.

As you can see, the second trayful may have been cooked for slightly longer than strictly necessary, but they were still delicious.


  1. Cor they look nice. Could you make them with a sourdough starter then? Not that I've started my sourdough starter yet. Just like I didn't get round to commenting on your post about 'things to do'. The irony, eh?! I am in a more or less constant state of low level (and sometimes higher level) anxiety about how much I am managing to get on with (not much, it seems) and how much there is to do (er, lots) ON TOP of the everyday stuff. The garden's a joke, but I suppose we can kind of write that off as everyone seems in the same boat...

    1. The difference between a Herman (i.e. cake) starter and and normal bread sourdough starter is milk and sugar, so if you made these pastries with bread sourdough starter I think you'd want to add some sugar as well and maybe a bit more butter, but I'm not sure in what quantities. Maybe the butter isn't critical, but I don't think they'd be sweet enough with just sugar in the filling and not the dough.

      Haha, yes that's quite amusing that you didn't get round to commenting on my post about not getting round to things. I know the feeling...


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