Taking the Danish on a Middle Eastern Date

Special thanks to Kelly from Sass & Veracity and Ben from What’s Cooking?for hosting this month’s challenge!

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medjool dates
medjool dates

Growing up in a Middle Eastern home, dates were something my family always had around.  The medicinal properties that my grandmother claims this humble fruit holds are endless, but I was never one who needed any sort of convincing to eat these sweet, chewy nuggets.  I did find out, though, that there is archeological evidence of date cultivation since 4000 BC,  to which my grandmother simply responded with the Arabic equivalent of, “I told you so.”  I want to dedicate this entry to my grandmother because I drew inspiration for this challenge from her date-stuffed semolina cookies that I grew up eating.

mise en place
mise en place

I didn’t tweak the recipe for the pastry too much.  I used the zest of a lemon instead of an orange because I thought it would go better with the lemony undertone of the ground cardamom.  I also didn’t use vanilla beans because, let’s face it, even though I already graduated, I’m still living on a college student budget. 

1, 2, 3, 4, repeat.
puff pastry dough folding

The recipe for the dough was great.  I loved that cardamom was already included in the recipe because I felt that it went well with my Middle Eastern theme.  

tiny specks of cardamom & butter
cardamom specks

This is a shot of the dough after four turns and I absolutely loved how you could see the specks of cardamom and the laminated butter running throughout.   

filling the danishes
filling the danishes

Of course, the braid part of the challenge flew right over my head and so I opted to make individual portions by cutting out disks using the rim of a small drinking glass.  This was not a great idea when it came around to eating the little things because I never felt guilty about having one more piece.  In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m munching on a piece and telling myself that a visit to the gym will be necessary tomorrow.

for the picky eaters who don’t want date-filling
strawberry topping

Since I know that dates might not be everyones cup of tea, I used the scraps to make star-shaped pastries with a strawberry jam center.  Because I know EXACTLY how it feels to be that kid unpacking the “weird food” during lunch while Timmy gets to build his Pizza Lunchables and enjoy his chewy chocolate chip cookies. Anyway, I digress.

strawberry stars
strawberry pastries

The star-shaped pieces tasted good, but I had my eyes set on the prize – the medjool date, Danish-inspired pastry.

Middle Eastern Inspired Date Danish
Date Danish

The secret to the date filling is to throw in a couple teaspoons of butter so that the filling doesn’t dry out in the oven.  Other than that, the filling is nothing more than pure dates that have been pulsed in the food processor.

Date-filled Danish

(yields approx. 12 servings)

Modified from Sherry Yard’s recipe

Components

  • 1/2 tbsp. dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp. whole milk, lukewarm
  • 35g. sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom, ground
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, chilled
  • 2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
  • 250 g. flour + 40g.
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 10 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 tbsp. butter

Putting them all together

  1. Combine the milk, yeast, sugar, lemon zest, cardamom, vanilla and egg using a paddle attachment.
  2. Switch to a hook attachment and add the 250g. of flour and salt gradually and mix until a dough is formed. Combine 1 stick of butter with the remaining flour until just throughly combined.
  3. To make the filling, process the medjool dates with 1 tbsp. of butter until smooth and set aside.
  4. Roll out the dough into a long sheet and cover 2/3 of it with the butter mixture.  Fold so that you have alternating layers of butter and dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Repeat this process 4 times, making sure to refrigerate after each step.
  5. Roll out the dough one final time and cut out into small disks.  
  6. Top half the disks with a small amount of the date mixture and seal using the remaining disks.
  7. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Note: For a nice shiny golden brown finish, brush the top of each pastry with an egg wash (an egg with a tsp. of milk or water).

Print

breakfast with friends
breakfast with friends

One of my best friends from high school, Yuliana, was visiting this weekend so I was happy to share the fruits of this challenge with her (and my roommates, of course). Raquel also went to high school with us and so we all had a fun weekend talking about how OLD we all are and how crazy it is that high school was so long ago.

27 thoughts on “Taking the Danish on a Middle Eastern Date

  1. oh, I love that you switched things up a bit!!! And your pictures of the ingredients, I always love those…beautiful. I loved eating this challenge much more than making it!:) Great work!!!

  2. oh i am so glad you did this! and i love the results. dates are such a neat idea for this on Tony! send me a few of those cute bites here!

  3. Great pictures and post. For me the best part of the challenge was the smell. Thank you for baking with us 🙂

  4. Oh man, you have the cutest and most fun post! I love the annotations 🙂 What lucky friends you have and your final pastries are so pretty!! Nice job.

  5. Wow.. all of your pastries look sooo delicious!! and I would love to try one of those date filled ones.. mmmmm I love dates!!!
    Your pictures are also lovely! Congratulations on your challenge!

  6. Ok, I love what you did with the challenge!! I am sure you are already aware but oh how lucky you were to be the kid with the “weird” food as opposed to the lunchables!!! Great work, so glad I stumbled on by!!!!

  7. WOW! Excellent choice of filling and super progressive pictures of the challenge.

    Your breakfast companions seemed to really enjoy your danish. Well done.

  8. This is my first visit to your blog – really a beautifully done blog – you should be proud. I love the way you did your challenge for this month – you’re an original.

  9. Very nice! You never cease to amaze me. I was thinking of you & how you condemn store-bought puff pastry while I was rolling my dough out. So glad you had some good friends to share this treat with you. Always take that extra nibble – at your age an extra lap around the track is all it takes to get back in line. Great job!

    xoxox Amy

  10. Oh my, your date filling sounds incredible! I would have loved to make something similar, but it’s just too dangerous for me to have dates in the house- I always eat them all before they can be baked!

  11. Wow, what an excellent twist you put on the challenge! The filling sounds really good paired with the cardamon. I like how you made mini pastries instead of a braid, too.

    Really, pizza Lunchables aren’t that great, I know that now, but I still asked for it at the time anyway!

  12. Genial el aspecto de estas pastas… (sigo enamorada de tu blog)
    y la idea de aprovechar los recortes muy buena… enhorabuena…

    besos

    Hilda

  13. love ur pix and write up…. im jus an admirer or food blogs n art… but ur photos ve inspired me to try making one of these…. just one question…. was the dough reli sticky to handle???? i made cinnamon buns once and the dough gave me nightmares….

  14. I’m really excited to try this recipe with all the dates I have left over. Where can I get the recipe for the dough?!

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