I always think of rye as a straightforward, nose-to-the-grindstone type of flavor. It’s those dense, unmistakably flavored rye breads and their unassailable association with peasant, country food. Contrast this with the light and airy, sweet flavors you can achieve with white wheat flour.
But delicate pastries need not be made just with refined wheat flour, which is the central thesis of Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce (thanks Karen for the birthday gift!) As a former pastry chef, the author set forth to make whole grain pastries that would be appetizing to people who weren’t even looking to eat less refined flours. (Granted, we’re still talking pastries and such here, so there’s ample butter, eggs, and sugar. But still). As proof of this, I made the whole wheat chocolate chip cookies and presented them to my husband as “just some chocolate chip cookies” and he loved them–we all did. (Check out the recipe here).
I love maple and was intrigued by the maple danishes in the chapter on rye flour. This recipe is similar to a puff pastry dough and I bet could be made using Malgieri’s method, though I like having Kim Boyce’s low-tech shortcut here too.
There’s a fair amount of rolling involved here, but as Boyce says, if you just pay attention and follow the recipe it’s not all that hard. And the results are worth it! The maple softens the strong assertive flavor of rye, the butter ensures these danishes are light, flaky, moist, and smooth. The overall combination is utterly unique and quite irresistible!
I made one change–more out of necessity than anything else–I realized only after starting that I had no maple sugar, so I mixed maple syrup together with the brown sugar for the filling. I had my proportions all wrong so things were rather liquidy. As I rolled up my pastries a maple syrup-brown sugar ooze was getting everywhere. I just gathered this extra up as much as I could and poured it over the shaped danishes as a “glaze”–worked pretty well. Next time I’ll spring for the maple sugar; or maybe date sugar which is supposed to be a good (and less costly) substitute.
Now some pictures from the process, and a recipe.
Rolling out the dough
Dividing in half
Shaped rolls, set to rise
Risen danishes, ready for the oven
Cooling, delicious and flaky.
- 1c rye flour
- 2c all-purpose flour
- 1/4c sugar
- 1 1/2t kosher salt
- 6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen
- 1 package plus 1t active dry yeast
- 3/4c whole milk warmed to 100F
- 1 egg
- 3T softened butter
- 1/4c maple sugar (I substituted 1/2c maple syrup as maple syrup is half as sweet)
- 2T dark brown sugar
–Sift the dry ingredients together into a large bowl, pouring back any bits of grain that remain in the sifter. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the frozen butter into the dry mixture as quickly as possible. Briefly stir together with your hands and chill while you continue with the recipe.
–Mix the yeast and milk and allow to sit for 5 minutes until the yeast blooms. Thoroughly whisk the egg and mix into the milk mixture. Stir this mixture into the dry mixture; it will be somewhat dry. Refrigerate overnight.
–The next day, remove the dough from the fridge and flour the surface. pat into a rectangle and roll into a rectangle about 9 x 15 inches. Keep the longer side parallel to your body.
–Fold the rectangle into thirds, like folding a letter (a “turn”). Roll out again, and repeat twice more for a total of three turns. The dough will soften and smooth out.
–Cut the dough in half and roll each piece into a 12 X 8 inch rectangle. Rub the softened butter over the rectangles and sprinkle (pour) on the filling.
–Roll up the dough, starting at the shorter edge. Cut each log into 6 even slices and set to rise on buttered baking sheets, 6-8 rolls per sheet (I used parchment paper).
–Cover with plastic and allow to rise for 2 hours. They will not double in size but will swell. (Note that as mine were coated in syrup, they did not need to be covered while they proofed as the syrup kept them moist).
–Bake at 425F for 15-18 minutes, or until caramelized and golden brown. Eat as soon as possible, best warm out of the oven.