I'm loving all the rhubarb desserts that I've been seeing on blogs and around Pinterest lately. Rhubarb pies, rhubarb muffins, rhubarb cakes, rhubarb crumbles, rhubarb drinks, rhubarb everything!! Except… not many rhubarb danish (danishes?). Everyone knows that rhubarb goes great with flaky pastry, but it's usually a pie pastry. With a little help from King Arthur Flour, I stepped it up a notch and paired rhubarb with uber flaky croissant dough to make one kickass flaky-fruity-sour-sweet-crunchy-creamy pastry.
Now, before you look at the recipe and think, "Holy crap, I don't want to spend a week making these things", I'm going to tell you right now that I made these on a Sunday morning and they were baked off on Monday afternoon. I actually had to stop part way through because the light was going and I wanted photos of fresh danish, so I waited until the next day to roll them out and bake them. If you're a normal person that doesn't need to spend 2 hours taking photos of your baked goods in a specific window of time, you could have these ready in the same day (except the poolish still needs to be made the day before but that's not much work)!
The end result of your hard work rolling and measuring and cutting and proofing will be worth it, I promise you. The light and flaky croissant dough, the sour and juicy rhubarb, the crunch from the pearl sugar, and the creamy and sweet chantilly all play off each other to give you the best balance of textures and flavours.
You better have some friends over or a big family 'cause this makes 10 danish and if you live alone (like me), you'll probably eat three in a row. And then have another one later, aaaand maybe another at night. Five. You will eat five in one day. It happened. Whatever.
I know a lot of my readers are from the States and so you guys probably already know about King Arthur Flour, but because I live in Canada, I had never seen their products in stores and only knew of them through other blogs. But man, oh man, you guys in the States are lucky! King Arthur Flour is an incredible resource for bakers at all levels, home bakers and professionals alike. The brand of yeast from King Arthur is actually the same type we use at the patisserie I work at, so you know it's an awesome product.
They have an incredible variety of baking ingredients, ranging from decorative sugars and an array of specialty flours to more advanced ingredients like instant clearjel and dutch-processed cocoa powder. Seriously, I've never seen such a wide range of baking products in one place! Not only that, they have an incredible amount of baking equipment, too! They may not be in stores in Canada (that I've seen), but they ship to Canada every weekday. It's a paradise for someone like me, whose kitchen is 90% baking ingredients/equipment and who not only bakes for a career but also bakes every weekend as a hobby.
So while the weather is still cool enough that turning on the oven doesn't turn your whole place into a furnace, get on these! Challenge yourself and try something a little more difficult than the usual. Even if they don't turn out picture-perfect, it's all a learning experience! Have fun with it!
100 g all-purpose flour
0.1 g (a pinch) instant dried yeast
100 g water at 75 F/23.8 C
330 g unsalted butter, in one piece
500 g all-purpose flour
75 g granulated sugar
10 g instant dried yeast
3 g diastatic malt powder (optional)
200 g water at 75 F/23.8 C
100 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
15 g kosher salt
100 g pearl sugar
600 g rhubarb stalks, leaves removed
50 g granulated sugar
1/2 orange, zested and juiced
1 vanilla bean
150 g heavy cream
15 g icing sugar
2 g vanilla paste
For the poolish, combine the flour and the yeast in a medium bowl and mix with your fingers. Pour in the water and mix until thoroughly combined. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 12 to 15 hours. The mixture will be bubbly, but the best indication that it is ready are lines on the surface that look like cracks that are beginning to fall in at the center, as the yeast exhausts its food supply.
For the butter block (beurrage), place a piece of parchment on the work surface. Center the 330 g of butter on the paper and top with a second piece of parchment paper. Pound the top o the butter from left to right with a rolling pin to begin to flatten it. The parchment paper will be stuck to the butter: lift off the top piece and place it butter side up on the work surface. Flip the butter over onto the parchment paper, turning it 90 degrees. Top with the second piece of parchment paper. Continue to fatten the butter as before until you have a 6 3/4 by 7 1/2 inch rectangle. Wrap tightly in parchment paper and refrigerate.
For the dough, spray a large bowl with non-stick spray.
Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and malt powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and give it a quick mix on the lowest setting to distribute all of the ingredients evenly.
Pour about half the water around the edges of the polish to help release the poolish, then add the contents of the bowl, along with the water, to the mixer. Add the butter and mix on low speed for 2 minutes to moisten the dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour has been incorporated.
Sprinkle the salt over the top and mix on low speed for 2 minutes to dissolve the salt. Continue to mix on low speed for 20 minutes.
Run a bowl scraper around the sides and the bottom of the bowl to release the dough and turn it out onto the work surface. Stretch the left side of the dough outward and fold it over the center of the dough, then stretch and fold the right side over to the opposite side, as if you were folding a letter. Repeat this process, working form the bottom and then the top. Turn the dough over, lift it up with a bench scraper, and place it seam side down in the prepared bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let it sit at room temperature for an hour.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Uncover the dough, run the bowl scraper around the sides and bottom of the bowl to release the dough, and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, disturbing the structure as little as possible. Gently but firmly pat the dough into a rectangle about 10 by 7 1/2 inches, pressing any large gas bubbles to the edges and then out of the dough. Transfer to the sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for 20 minutes.
To encase the butter block and roll the dough, lightly flour the work surface and a heavy rolling pin. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and lightly dust the top with flour. Roll the dough outward from the center, rotating it frequently, and flipping and fluffing it from time to time, adding just enough flour to the work surface, dough, and/or rolling pin to prevent sticking, until you have a 16 by 7 1/2 by 1/2 inch thick rectangle.
Lay the butter block across the center of the dough. Stretch and fold over the two longer sides so they meet in the center and pinch together to seal. There should be no exposed butter at the top of block, but you will see the butter on the sides.
To do the first turn, use the rolling pin to press down firmly on the dough across the seam from one side to the other to expand the dough. Turn the dough so the short end faces you. Roll to expand the length of the dough, flipping, fluffing, and turn the dough over and adding flour only as needed, until you have a rectangle approximately 22 by 9 inches and 3/8 inch thick.
Fold the bottom third of the dough up as if you were folding a letter. Fold the top third down to cover the bottom third. Turn the block 90 degrees so the dough resembles a book, with the opening on the right. You will continue this patter with each roll, and keeping the opening on the right will help you remember how to position the dough. You have completed your first turn: gently press a finger into the corner to mark it. Return to the sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for 20 minutes or until the dough has stiffened by it not hard.
For the second turn, lightly dust the work surface. Place the dough on the work surface with the opening on the right. It is important to work with the dough as quickly as possible, but not the risk of exposing the butter. Pressing on the dough will warm the butter; if it is too col, it will shatter rather than spread as you roll it. Expand the dough by pressing down firmly with the rolling pin, working up the length of the dough. If the dough cracks at all along the edges, stop and let it warm slightly at room temperature. Then roll out the dough as you did before to a 22 by 9 by 3/8 inch rectangle and repeat the folding. Turn the block 90 degrees, so the opening is on the right. You have completed the second turn; gently press two fingers into a corner to mark the dough. Return to the sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for 20 minutes or until the dough has stiffened but is not hard.
For the third turn, repeat all of the steps for second turn and mark the dough with three fingerprints.
For the rhubarb, combine the rhubarb with the sugar, zest, and juice from the orange in a casserole dish or any container large enough to fit the rhubarb stalks.. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them along with the pod. Mix everything until combined and let it marinate for 1 hour.
To finish the dough, line a sheet pan with parchment paper and lightly dust the work surface with flour. It is especially critical at this stage that the dough remain cold; freeze as needed. Lightly dust the top of the dough and roll it outward from the center, flipping, fluffing, and rotating the dough and turning it over, adding only enough flour to the work surface, dough, and/or rolling pin as necessary to prevent sticking. Roll the dough out to 24 by 9 inches.
Cut the dough crosswise in half, making two 12 by 9 inch rectangles. Stack on the sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper between them, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for 20 minutes, or until the dough has stiffened but it not hard.
Spray two sheet pans with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper.
Lightly flour the work surface. Remove one piece of dough from the freezer and position it on the work surface with the short end towards you; transfer the second piece of dough to the refrigerator. Roll the dough out to a rectangle about 20 by 8 inches.
Cut the dough lengthwise into two strips measuring 20 by 4 inches. Cut each strip into 4 by 4 inch squares. You should have 10 squares measuring 4 by 4 inches. Using a circular cookie cutter, cut out a circle from the centre of 5 squares.
Lightly brush the borders of the square (the one completely intact) with water and, using a metal or plastic bench scraper, place the square with the cutout on top, aligning them so the borders line up. Transfer to the baking sheets.
Using the same circular cookie cutter that you used for the dough, line up the rhubarb and cut out circles from the stalks (you may need to use a knife to help you cut the tough fibers). Gently place the rhubarb in the circle in each danish.
Remove the second piece of dough from the refrigerator and, if necessary, let sit at room temperature until warmed enough to roll, then repeat to make 5 more finished danish.
Brush the danish with egg wash. Cover the baking sheets with plastic tubs or cardboard boxes and let proof for about 2 hours. When the dough is delicately pressed with a finger, the impression should remain.
Position the rack in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F.
Brush the danish again with egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pans once halfway through baking, until the tops are a rich golden brown. Set the pans on a rack and cool completely.
For the crème chantilly, combine the heavy cream, icing sugar, and vanilla paste in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a St. Honoré tip. Pipe the chantilly onto the danish and sprinkle with more pearl sugar to finish.